Bush's father comes to his defense on Iraq war

WASHINGTON, Nov 9 (Reuters) - Critics of U.S. President George W. Bush's handling of the Iraq war are "grossly unfair" and have forgotten the brutality of deposed Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein, Bush's father said in an interview published on Friday.

"Do they want to bring back Saddam Hussein," former President George H. W. Bush said in an interview with USAToday at his presidential library in College Station, Texas.

"I don't know what they are talking about here. Do they think life would be better in the Middle East if Saddam were still there," the elder Bush, who almost never comments on his son's presidency, said in a rare interview.

Public opinion polls show most Americans oppose Bush's Iraq war strategy and his overall job performance rating has dropped to record lows.

The president's father reacted testily when asked about criticism of his son, USAToday said.

"I don't reminisce with ... my friends like you about what my son does or doesn't do," Bush said. But "I think we forget even today the extraordinary brutality of Saddam Hussein."

Speaking of his son, the elder Bush told USAToday: "He has my full, unequivocal support. I feel about him great respect for what he's doing and tries to do and I think much of the criticism is grossly unfair... That's a father caring about his son and his president." (Editing by Sandra Maler)