Transcript: President Bush Interview, Part 2

Dec. 16, 2003 -- Following are further excerpts from Diane Sawyer's Dec. 16 interview with President Bush.

The Power of Prayer

DIANE SAWYER: Many people have expressed great interest in your faith and your religion and the role it plays. I guess — did you pray to God for the capture of Saddam Hussein?

PRESIDENT BUSH: No. I prayed to God for wisdom and strength and guidance.

DIANE SAWYER: And —

PRESIDENT BUSH: It's like saying, do you pray to God that you get a vote? No. I mean...

DIANE SAWYER: One of the questions that I guess people have is: Does your confidence come from feeling that — that God is behind you?

PRESIDENT BUSH: My confidence comes from a lot of sources. I do — I am sustained by the prayers of the people in this country. I guess an appropriate way to say this, it's one of the beautiful things about America and Americans from all walks of life is that they're willing to pray for the President and his family. And that's powerful. It's hard for me to describe to you what that means. It's — let me just say this: It's a leap of faith to understand. And — but I am a confident person, I am, because I believe in the values of America. I believe in what we stand for. I'm confident because I've got assembled a great team. ... I'm confident in my management style. I'm a delegator because I trust the people I've asked to join the team. I'm willing to delegate. That makes it easier to be president. ...

WMD Intelligence

DIANE SAWYER: Fifty percent of the American people have said that they think the administration exaggerated the evidence going into the war with Iraq, weapons of mass destruction, connection to terrorism. Are the American people wrong? Misguided?

PRESIDENT BUSH: The intelligence I operated one was good sound intelligence, the same intelligence that my predecessor operated on. The — there is no doubt that Saddam Hussein was a threat. The — otherwise the United Nations might — wouldn't a passed, you know, resolution after resolution after resolution, demanding that he disarm. ... I first went to the United Nations, September the 12th, 2002, and said you've given this man resolution after resolution after resolution. He's ignoring them. You step up and see that he honor those resolutions. Otherwise you become a feckless debating society. ... And so for the sake of peace and for the sake of freedom of the Iraqi people, for the sake of security of the country, and for the sake of the credibility of institu — in — international institutions, a group of us moved, and the world is better for it.

DIANE SAWYER: But let me try to ask — this could be a long question. ... ... When you take a look back, Vice President Cheney said there is no doubt, Saddam Hussein has weapons of mass destruction, not programs, not intent. There is no doubt he has weapons of mass destruction. Secretary Powell said 100 to 500 tons of chemical weapons and now the inspectors say that there's no evidence of these weapons existing right now. The yellow cake in Niger, in Niger. George Tenet has said that shouldn't have been in your speech. Secretary Powell talked about mobile labs. Again, the intelligence — the inspectors have said they can't confirm this, they can't corroborate.

PRESIDENT BUSH: Yet.

DIANE SAWYER: — an active —

PRESIDENT BUSH: Yet.

DIANE SAWYER: Is it yet?

PRESIDENT BUSH: But what David Kay did discover was they had a weapons program, and had that, that — let me finish for a second. Now it's more extensive than, than missiles. Had that knowledge been examined by the United Nations or had David Kay's report been placed in front of the United Nations, he, he, Saddam Hussein, would have been in material breach of 1441, which meant it was a causis belli. And look, there is no doubt that Saddam Hussein was a dangerous person, and there's no doubt we had a body of evidence proving that, and there is no doubt that the president must act, after 9/11, to make America a more secure country.

DIANE SAWYER: Again, I'm just trying to ask, these are supporters, people who believed in the war who have asked the question.

PRESIDENT BUSH: Well, you can keep asking the question and my answer's gonna be the same. Saddam was a danger and the world is better off cause we got rid of him.

DIANE SAWYER: But stated as a hard fact, that there were weapons of mass destruction as opposed to the possibility that he could move to acquire those weapons still —

PRESIDENT BUSH: So what's the difference?

DIANE SAWYER: Well —

PRESIDENT BUSH: The possibility that he could acquire weapons. If he were to acquire weapons, he would be the danger. That's, that's what I'm trying to explain to you. A gathering threat, after 9/11, is a threat that needed to be de — dealt with, and it was done after 12 long years of the world saying the man's a danger. And so we got rid of him and there's no doubt the world is a safer, freer place as a result of Saddam being gone.

DIANE SAWYER: But, but, again, some, some of the critics have said this combined with the failure to establish proof of, of elaborate terrorism contacts, has indicated that there's just not precision, at best, and misleading, at worst.

PRESIDENT BUSH: Yeah. Look — what — what we based our evidence on was a very sound National Intelligence Estimate. ...

DIANE SAWYER: Nothing should have been more precise?

PRESIDENT BUSH: What — I, I — I made my decision based upon enough intelligence to tell me that this country was threatened with Saddam Hussein in power.

DIANE SAWYER: What would it take to convince you he didn't have weapons of mass destruction?

PRESIDENT BUSH: Saddam Hussein was a threat and the fact that he is gone means America is a safer country.

DIANE SAWYER: And if he doesn't have weapons of mass destruction [inaudible] —

PRESIDENT BUSH: Diane, you can keep asking the question. I'm telling you — I made the right decision for America —

DIANE SAWYER: But-

PRESIDENT BUSH: — because Saddam Hussein used weapons of mass destruction, invaded Kuwait. ...

But the fact that he is not there is, means America's a more secure country.

2004 Election

DIANE SAWYER: I want to try politics.

PRESIDENT BUSH: OK.

DIANE SAWYER: Nobody's succeeded — ...

DIANE SAWYER: You have said that Secretary Cheney — that Vice President Cheney will be the Vice Presidential candidate.

PRESIDENT BUSH: For a good reason: he's a great Vice President.

DIANE SAWYER: Is it important to have continuity in the Secretary of Defense in the next term? Will you promise —

PRESIDENT BUSH: I haven't made any decisions on Cabinet except for the Vice President. I mean, everybody's got to understand that — that their job is for four years, and I'll make those decisions, if I'm fortunate enough to win.

DIANE SAWYER: [inaudible] assumptions? Are you beatable?

PRESIDENT BUSH: Everybody's beatable in a democracy. And that's the great thing about a democracy. People get to make that decision. I know how I'm voting. I'm not sure who I'll be voting against because I don't — they haven't nominated a candidate yet. But I know who I'll be voting for, and I just hope the people stay with us. And if they — if they do, I'll be honored to serve. If not, I'll be heading back to Crawford, Texas. ...

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