Transcript: Charlie Gibson Interviews President Bush

BUSH: No, that's right. The problem is the President doesn't get to decide how to appropriate. And because the President doesn't have the line-item veto it's very difficult to be able to excise some of the programs from the budget.

GIBSON: I'd like to talk a little bit about the highs and lows of the eight years. But you can't do that alone. We should bring Mrs. Bush in to talk about that.


MRS. BUSH: Okay, heard you calling. (Laughter.) Hey, Charlie.

GIBSON: Mrs. Bush.

MRS. BUSH: Good to see you.

GIBSON: Nice to see you. GIBSON: As you leave, what do you think the country's feeling is about George W. Bush?

BUSH: I don't know. I hope they feel that this is a guy that came, didn't sell his soul for politics, had to make some tough decisions, and did so in a principled way.

MRS. BUSH: I think they think he's somebody that kept them safe for eight years. And I think -- and I hear that all the time, people thanking me, telling me to thank him.

BUSH: I'll be frank with you. I don't spend a lot of time really worrying about short-term history. I guess I don't worry about long-term history, either, since I'm not going to be around to read it -- (laughter) -- but, look, in this job you just do what you can. The thing that's important for me is to get home and look in that mirror and say, I did not compromise my principles. And I didn't. I made tough calls. And some presidencies have got a lot of tough decisions to make --

GIBSON: Was there a time when you thought, if I do this I will be compromising my principles --

BUSH: Yes.

GIBSON: -- some decision where you really thought that that was at issue?

BUSH: Yes.


BUSH: The pullout of Iraq. It would have compromised the principle that when you put kids into harm's way, you go in to win. And it was a tough call, particularly, since a lot of people were advising for me to get out of Iraq, or pull back in Iraq, or -- and rather than listen to -- I mean, I listened to a lot of voices, but ultimately, I listened to this voice: I'm not going to let your son die in vain; I believe we can win; I'm going to do what it takes to win in Iraq.

GIBSON: You've always said there's no do-overs as President. If you had one?

BUSH: I don't know -- the biggest regret of all the presidency has to have been the intelligence failure in Iraq. A lot of people put their reputations on the line and said the weapons of mass destruction is a reason to remove Saddam Hussein. It wasn't just people in my administration; a lot of members in Congress, prior to my arrival in Washington D.C., during the debate on Iraq, a lot of leaders of nations around the world were all looking at the same intelligence. And, you know, that's not a do-over, but I wish the intelligence had been different, I guess.

GIBSON: If the intelligence had been right, would there have been an Iraq war?

BUSH: Yes, because Saddam Hussein was unwilling to let the inspectors go in to determine whether or not the U.N. resolutions were being upheld. In other words, if he had had weapons of mass destruction, would there have been a war? Absolutely.

GIBSON: No, if you had known he didn't.

BUSH: Oh, I see what you're saying. You know, that's an interesting question. That is a do-over that I can't do. It's hard for me to speculate.

GIBSON: Greatest accomplishment? The one thing you're proudest of?

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