TRANSCRIPT: Charles Gibson Interviews President George W. Bush and First Lady Laura Bush

CHARLES GIBSON: Well, that's the flip side, and that's the reconciliation issue. You said the design of this is to give the Iraqi government breathing space, to bring about reconciliation. We've got a reporter right now who's embedded with the 1st Cav, and I talked to him yesterday, and he said that's all they're talking about. He quoted a captain to me, we've gone as far militarily as we can go. The coalition cannot make reconciliation. And then they go on with their impatience and their frustration, that reconciliation isn't coming --

PRESIDENT GEORGE BUSH: I don't know what province this person is in, but this province, if this person were in Anbar Province, which used to be the al Qaeda stronghold, they would see enormous amounts of reconciliation taking place as these, Sunni sheiks are stepping up and beginning to take the lead at the local level.

If he's referring to, if this person's referring to laws being passed by the parliament, he's right in terms of a de-Baathification law, for example. On the other hand, they're just in the process of passing yet another budget which will distribute monies from the central government to provincial governments.

But there, as well there's a lot of local reconciliation taking place. I mean, after all, I, welcomed, you remember the Sheik that got killed? Well, his brother came, he's now assumed the mantle of the --

CHARLES GIBSON: This is in Anbar?

PRESIDENT GEORGE BUSH: Yeah. But they're reaching out beyond Anbar, these Sunni sheiks are. And he said to me, he came to the White House, and he said, you know, here's what I'd like, I'd like the following things. It's like dealing with a county judge in Texas in a way. Here is what the local folks want, I represent the local folks.

And he asked me, he said, would you mind meeting with some of the Shia Sheiks that I have gotten to know? And my only point to you is, is that, the captain's remarks are true in this sense, the Iraqis are going to have to, you know, obviously take the leap politically, which they are beginning to do.

My, my advice to him is that you have to be somewhat patient. One, because the grass roots reconciliation is beginning to translate into national, national changes. But also, these are people who are learning what it means to be involved in democracy. They, they're adjusting, they haven't had the same experiences that we've had.

CHARLES GIBSON: Let me turn to politics, and the real political pro in the family. A year from now, a year from this day, we're gonna now who has custody of this cottage for the next four years. You got a gut sense as to who it's gonna be?

FIRST LADY LAURA BUSH: No, I have absolutely no idea. No idea, I don't know who our nominee's gonna be from the Republican Party and … So we'll have a very interesting year watching from the sidelines, and I'm glad we'll be on the sidelines this time.

CHARLES GIBSON: He's got a sister who's endorsed one candidate, a nephew who's endorsed another, a second nephew who's endorsed a third, can't these Bushes…get together --


PRESIDENT GEORGE BUSH: Either that or my mother wisely has said, okay, you pick this camp, you pick that camp, you pick this camp.

CHARLES GIBSON: Shouldn't the family be united on this, they're -- they stick together pretty well --

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