BUSH: This was well received, yeah. (Laughter.)
QUESTION: (Laughs.) Following on both Judy and John's questions, and it comes out of what you just said in some ways, with public support for your policies in Iraq falling off the way they have, quite significantly over the past couple of months, I guess I'd like to know if you feel in any way that you've failed as a communicator on this topic. You deliver —
BUSH: Gosh, I don't know. I mean —
QUESTION: Well, you deliver a lot of speeches, and a lot of them contain similar phrases and they vary very little from one to the next. And they often include a pretty upbeat assessment of how things are going, with the exception of tonight's pretty somber —
BUSH: I didn't think — it was a pretty somber assessment today, Don, yeah.
QUESTION: Except this evening. Well, I guess I just wonder if you feel that you have failed in any way. You don't have many of these press conferences where you engage in this kind of exchange. Have you failed in any way to really make the case to the American public?
BUSH: You know, that's — I guess if you put it into a political context, that's the kind of thing the voters will decide next November. That's what elections are about. They'll take a look at me and my opponent and say, let's see, which one of them can better win the war on terror? Who best can see to it that Iraq emerges as a free society?
And, Don, you know, if I tried to fine tune my messages based upon polls, I think I'd be pretty ineffective. I know I'd — I would be disappointed in myself. I hope today you've got a sense of my conviction about what we're doing.
If you don't, maybe I need to learn to communicate better. I feel strongly about what we're doing. I feel strongly that the course this administration has taken will make America more secure and the world more free, and therefore, the world more peaceful. It's a conviction that's deep in my soul. And, you know, I will say it as best as I possibly can to the American people.
I look forward to the debate in the campaign. I look forward to helping — for the American people to hear, you know, what is the proper use of American power? Do we have an obligation to lead or should we shirk responsibility? That's how I — that's how I view this debate, and I look forward to making it, Don. I'll do it the best I possibly can. I'll give it the best shot. I'll speak as plainly as I can. One thing is for certain, though, about me — and the world has learned this — when I say something, I mean it. And the credibility of the United States is incredibly important for keeping world peace and freedom.
Thank you all very much.