WASHINGTON (AP) _ The White House considered funding candidates in Iraq's January election, but President Bush decided against it, his press secretary said Monday.

While publicly the Bush administration was saying the United States would live with whatever government was elected in free and fair elections, U.S. officials were concerned about Iranian support for pro-Iranian Shiite parties.

``We did have concerns that outsiders might try to influence the election, including Iran,'' press secretary Scott McClellan said. ``That raised concerns about whether there might be a need to level the playing field for the elections, and it presented us with some difficult issues about what action to take, if any, in response to those concerns.

``And in the final analysis, the president made the decision that our policy would be not to try to influence the outcome of the election by covertly helping individual candidates for office.''

The election resulted in the United Iraqi Alliance, a Shiite-dominated party, winning a majority of seats in the National Assembly.


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