Transcript: Charlie Gibson Interviews President Bush

BUSH: No, not really. You know, I've been around politics a long time. Remember, I was the guy in 2000 who campaigned for change. I campaigned for change when I ran for governor of Texas. The only time I really didn't campaign for change is when I was running for reelection.

GIBSON: Given the fact that you did start campaigning for change, said you were going to change the ways of Washington, do you feel you did in any way? Or did 9/11 really stand in the way of doing it?

BUSH: No, you know -- actually, 9/11 unified the country, and that was a moment where Washington decided to work together. I think one of the big disappointments of the presidency has been the fact that the tone in Washington got worse, not better.

Having said that, there were some moments of strong bipartisanship. I mean, No Child Left Behind Act, for example, or eventually funding our troops. I know the war was -- created bitter divisions. But nevertheless, when it came to supporting the troops or our veterans, we worked together. And so there were -- PEPFAR, for example, the AIDS initiative in Africa, got bipartisan support. Millennium Challenge Account. I mean, there were moments of bipartisanship. But the tone was rough. And I was obviously partially responsible because I was the President, although I tried hard not to call people names and bring the office down during my presidency.

GIBSON: Do you feel the divisions are deeper, the enmities perhaps a little stronger, the language a little tougher now than it was January 20, 2001?

BUSH: Yes, I do. I do. I think -- I don't know, the close election created some pretty harsh language. But once I was President I think people decided that, well, let's try to work with him, and I said, I'd like to work with you, and we did some pretty good things. But having said that, Washington has always been politics. I mean, if you, like, for example, study the early Presidents, there's some pretty tough language when it came to Abraham Lincoln, or the relationship between George Washington and Thomas Jefferson.

So I didn't go into this naively, I knew it would be tough. But I also knew that the President has the responsibility to try to elevate the tone. And, frankly, it just didn't work, as well as I'd like to have it work.

GIBSON: I guess the bottom-line question I'm asking you is, do you feel you were in any way able to change Washington? Or do you feel --

BUSH: I think we did. I think we brought a results-oriented government, and we insisted that people focus on results, not process, and on a variety of reforms. Whether it be No Child Left Behind, or like the PEPFAR Initiative, or the Malaria Initiative, the question we always asked was, are we achieving the results?

Washington can be a very process-oriented town. The budget process -- let's just pass money because the program sounds good. We worked hard to say, is the program achieving the results? If not, let's eliminate it.

GIBSON: Barack Obama was talking just last week about the fact that he wants to go at the budget line by line, change things. I remember your State of the Union address you said, here's 151 programs we can cut out --

BUSH: Yes.

GIBSON: -- and we can save $20 billion. Not one of them got cut out, sir.

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