President Bush says he is "excited, hopeful and appreciative" as he prepares for his second term. The president is unwavering in his commitment to the war on terror, but he will be a bit more disciplined with his rhetoric in his second term, he told ABC News' Barbara Walters in an exclusive White House interview.
Watch Barbara Walters' full report Friday at 10 p.m. on "20/20."
"I watch what I say. ... I said some things in the first term that were probably a little blunt. 'Bring it on' was a little blunt. I was really speaking to our troops, but it came out and had a different connotation, different meanings for others," he told Walters.
Bush used the phrase in July 2003 to say U.S. troops would not be scared off by Iraqi insurgents' attacks. During the presidential election campaign, his rival, Democratic Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts, used the line to criticize administration policy. "If the White House wants to make this election about national security, I have three words they understand: 'Bring, it, on!' "
More recently, guerrillas in Iraq have used the president's words in a propaganda video narrated in English, according to the Reuters news agency. The narrator of the video says, "George W. Bush, you have asked us to 'bring it on.' And so help me, [we will ] like you never expected. Do you have another challenge?" The video then shows explosions around a U.S. military vehicle.
Bush told Walters that the first lady criticized him for pledging after Sept. 11 to get al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden "dead or alive."
"I'll be more disciplined in how I say things," the president, adding, "I have to be cautious about conveying thoughts in a way that doesn't send wrong impressions about our country."
Bush repeated that his administration will continue to make the war on terror a priority and continue its pursuit of bin Laden, the suspected mastermind of the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks.
Despite the recent release of taped messages in which bin Laden suggests that more attacks on American interests are being plotted, Bush said he believes the al Qaeda leader "is not as strong as he was."
"He's going to be weaker, and I intend to use our resources to bring him to justice," the president said. "We will stay on the hunt."
The president also told Walters he has no regrets about his administration's decision to wage war in Iraq, despite inspectors' failure to find any weapons of mass destruction in the country -- the chief rationale for the March 2003 invasion and toppling of Saddam Hussein's regime.
The White House acknowledged Wednesday that there is no longer an active search for Iraqi weapons of mass destruction. The final report from chief U.S. weapons inspector Charles Duelfer, due out next month, has concluded that "the former regime had no formal written strategy or plan for the revival of WMD."
The Bush administration does not hold out hopes that any weapons will ever be found.
"I felt like we'd find weapons of mass destruction -- like many here in the United States, many around the world. The United Nations thought he had weapons of mass destruction," Bush told Walters. "So, therefore: one, we need to find out what went wrong in the intelligence gathering. ... Saddam was dangerous and the world is safer without him in power."