White House Press Secretary Dana Perino fired back at candidates for Republican National Committee chairman Tuesday after five of the six major candidates criticized President Bush for bailouts of the auto industry and financial institutions.

Asked for her reaction to the candidates promising to sign onto a resolution that will come before the RNC at their annual winter meeting disavowing the bailout packages, Perino said those candidates would have had a different perspective had they been in the president's position.

"I don't think that, if they would have been responsible, as the president of the United States was, for the future of our financial system that, that they would necessarily be signing on to this resolution, because it was put very plainly to the president that our entire system faced collapse if he didn't act," Perino said during her daily press briefing.

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"It's their right to have that debate. It's their right to put forward that resolution," Perino continued. "But unless they're sitting there in charge of the economy, then they probably can't really put themselves in the president's shoes."

During Monday's debate, former Maryland Lt. Gov. Michael Steele and former Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell included the bailout legislation among their diagnoses of the biggest faults of the Bush administration. Michigan Republican Party chairman Saul Anuzis said the notion of "big government conservatism" was Bush's biggest fault.

Perino reiterated that Bush will not play a role in the race for chairman of his own party. "The president is just going to let the RNC, you know, fight that out. That's the appropriate thing for them to do, and they can have a good, robust debate, and we encourage them to do so," she said.

The only RNC chairman candidate who did not promise to back the resolution later this month, incumbent Robert "Mike" Duncan, was originally appointed to the position by Pres. Bush just after the 2006 election.

-Reid Wilson