Think Progress catches President Bush trying to distance himself from "stay the course," a phrase he has used repeatedly over the last several years:
STEPHANOPOULOS: James Baker says that he's looking for something between "cut and run" and "stay the course."
BUSH: Well, hey, listen, we've never been "stay the course," George. We have been — we will complete the mission, we will do our job, and help achieve the goal, but we're constantly adjusting to tactics. Constantly.
Update 10/23 12:27 PM: Think Progress flags White House communications director Dan Bartlett disavowing "stay the course" in an interview on CBS this morning:
STORM: So, Mr. Bartlett, staying the course is no longer the operative strategy?
BARTLETT: Well, Hannah, it's never been a stay-the-course strategy. Strategically, we think it's very important that we stay in Iraq and we win in Iraq. And if we were to cut and run and go and leave that country too early it would be a disaster for American policy.
Update 10/24 11:41 AM: The New York Times reports on Bush's rhetorical shift:
The White House said Monday that President Bush was no longer using the phrase "stay the course" when speaking about the Iraq war, in a new effort to emphasize flexibility in the face of some of the bloodiest violence there since the 2003 invasion.
"He stopped using it," said Tony Snow, the White House press secretary. "It left the wrong impression about what was going on and it allowed critics to say, 'Well, here's an administration that's just embarked upon a policy and not looking at what the situation is,' when, in fact, it is the opposite."
Mr. Bush used the slogan in a stump speech on Aug. 31, but has not repeated it for some time. Still, Mr. Snow's pronouncement was a stark example of the complicated line the White House is walking this election year in trying to tag Democrats as wanting to "cut and run" from Iraq, without itself appearing wedded to unsuccessful tactics there.