President George W. Bush spoke with ABC News' Martha Raddatz Sunday following an incident in which an Iraqi reporter threw two shoes at the president. Bush told Raddatz he wasn't insulted by the shoe-throwing, and that stranger things have happened to him.
He also spoke about his legacy, standing by the invasion of Iraq as the right thing to do, but also saying his presidency was about a lot more than taking down Saddam Hussein.
The full transcript of the interview follows:
Martha Raddatz: Let's start with what just happened. And that is someone threw a shoe at you, whether it's an Iraqi reporter?
President Bush: Yeah, I think it's a reporter. At least that's what they told me on the way out, that it's a person who works in the Iraqi press, stands up and throws his shoe. And it was amusing. I mean, I've seen a lot of weird things during my presidency and this may rank up there as one of the weirdest. On the other hand, I do remember when the president of China came to the South Lawn, and a member of the press corps started yelling. I think it was Falun Gong slogans at the Chinese president. So this happens and it's a sign of a free society.
Raddatz: It's also considered a huge insult in this world, the sole of a shoe, throwing a shoe.
Bush: I guess. Look they were humiliated. The press corps, the rest of the Iraqi press corps was humiliated. These guys were just besides themselves about, they felt like he had disgraced their entire press corps and I frankly, I didn't view it as, I thought it was interesting, I thought it was unusual to have a guy throw his shoe at you. But I'm not insulted. I don't hold it against the government. I don't think the Iraqi press corps as a whole is terrible. And so, the guy wanted to get on TV and he did. I don't know what his beef is. But whatever it is I'm sure somebody will hear it.
Raddatz: Let's talk about this trip. Your last trip to the region as president. Your last trip to Iraq. Surely your legacy will be largely about this war. Talk to me about how that feels being here? The last trip and what you really think that legacy will be.
Bush: Well, first of all I think a president's legacy is going to take time. We've accomplished a lot in my administration. Like No Child Left Behind; 52 months of uninterrupted job growth; PEPFAR, which is the AIDS initiative in Africa; fighting malaria, where there's poverty; faith based; I mean there a lot that people will be able to judge this administration on.
Clearly, one of the most important parts of my job because of 9/11 was to defend the security of the American people. There have been no attacks since I have been president, since 9/11. One of the major theaters against al Qaeda turns out to have been Iraq. This is where al Qaeda said they were going to take their stand. This is where al Qaeda was hoping to take ...
Raddatz: But not until after the U.S. invaded.
Bush: Yeah, that's right. So what? The point is that al Qaeda said they're going to take a stand. Well, first of all in the post-9/11 environment Saddam Hussein posed a threat. And then upon removal, al Qaeda decides to take a stand. And they're becoming defeated and I think history will say, one, the world was better off without Saddam, two, along with the Iraqi troops we have denied al Qaeda a safe haven because a young democracy is beginning to grow, which will be an important sign for people in the Middle East.