Transcript: Charlie Gibson Interviews President Bush

GIBSON: That's the second time I've heard you use the word "joyful" about the presidency, and that might take people by surprise. Even in really tough times?

BUSH: Oh, yes. As I said, some times are happy, some not happy. I don't want people to misconstrue. It's not -- I don't feel joyful when somebody loses their life, nor do I feel joyful from somebody loses a job. That concerns me. And the President ends up carrying a lot of people's grief in his soul during a presidency. One of the things about the presidency is you deal with a lot of tragedy -- whether it be hurricanes, or tornadoes, or fires, or death -- and you spend time being the Comforter-in-Chief. But the idea of being able to serve a nation you love is -- has been joyful. In other words, my spirits have never been down. I have been sad, but the spirits are up.

GIBSON: I have found you to be an excellent political analyst and commentator?

BUSH: Why? I try not to. (Laughter.)

GIBSON: What did you think of the campaign?

BUSH: I thought my candidate for President, John McCain, had a tough headwind -- for two reasons. One, rarely does the American people -- do the American people give a political party three terms. That in itself was difficult for him. They did one time since World War II; that happened to be for President 41, my dear dad. Obviously the economic situation made it awfully difficult for John McCain to get a message out. And I felt that Barack Obama ran a very disciplined campaign. I mean, he inspired a lot of people and was in a position to take advantage of the inspiration. It was well organized, he raised a lot of money, and ran a textbook campaign.

GIBSON: Given the conditions, and the economy, is there any way John McCain could have won?

BUSH: It's hard to see it, in retrospect. You know, John ran a hard campaign. And he was -- I think the interesting thing about the way people analyze campaigns, though, is they always look at the negative side. The positive side is, from Barack Obama's perspective, he had a really good campaign. I mean, this guy I'm told raised $150 million in one month. That meant a lot of people were for him for President. And he had a organization that he was able to get them out to the polls, particularly in the voting box, where it really mattered on the electoral map.

GIBSON: Palin choice -- help or hurt?

BUSH: I think it helped John. It energized the party. It -- I can remember when she first was named, young women in our office were saying, isn't it great that a woman is in a position to serve on the ticket now, to maybe be Vice President of the United States. Her crowds were big and enthusiastic. And so I think it helped.

GIBSON: Was the election in any way a repudiation of the Bush administration?

BUSH: I think it was a repudiation of Republicans. And I'm sure some people voted for Barack Obama because of me. I think most people voted for Barack Obama because they decided they wanted him to be in their living room for the next four years explaining policy. In other words, they made a conscious choice to put him in as President.

GIBSON: But both candidates wound up criticizing you a lot.

BUSH: Yes, well, that's what happens when you're the incumbent during a tough economic time, but --


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