[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/09/01/art.ridge.cnn.jpg caption="Ridge denies his new book attacks his former colleagues in the Bush Administration."] WASHINGTON (CNN) - Tom Ridge, the first U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security, denied Tuesday that he attacked former colleagues Donald Rumsfeld and John Ashcroft in his controversial new book.
Ridge called them "people whose opinions I respect immensely" on CNN's "American Morning."
He made headlines recently by saying he fought their proposal to raise the U.S. terror threat level in the run-up to the 2004 presidential elections.
In his book, "The Test of Our Time," he implied that politics may have played a
role in the proposal to raise it. Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld and Attorney General Ashcroft strongly advocated raising the security threat level to "orange" - even though Ridge believed a threatening message from Osama Bin Laden "should not be the sole reason to elevate the threat level."
In the book, he called the incident "another illustration of the intersection of politics, fear, credibility and security."
He told CNN on Tuesday that he was not "second-guessing" Ashcroft and
Rumsfeld in the meeting.
In the end, the threat level was not raised. Frances Townsend, a former Homeland Security advisor to Bush and now a CNN contributor, denied politics played any role in the request to raise the threat level.
"It was never discussed," Townsend said last week on CNN's "The Situation Room."
"Not only did he never say this at that time, that he thought political influence was involved in raising or lowering the threat level, he's never said it since when I've spoken to him," she said.
The former governor of Pennsylvania also confirmed he would not not run for Senate, he told CNN's "American Morning" Tuesday.
"That is out completely," the Republican said, reiterating a stance he first took in May.
He also called a run for the presidency "very unlikely," but said he wanted to help the Republicans "recapture the White House in 2012."