Exclusive: Inside the White House

ABC News' Martha Raddatz spends a day in the life with President Bush.

Dec. 11, 2007 — -- Long before much of Washington, D.C., came to life this morning, ABC News got a glimpse of the president few ever see.

In the darkness, President Bush stopped to toss a few balls to his dog, Barney, on his short walk from the White House residence to the Oval Office.

"Coming with me, Barney?" he asked his Scottish terrier.

Just after 6:30 a.m., Bush was in the Oval Office, reviewing overnight intelligence, signing a few photographs and putting the final touches on a speech.

At 7:30 a.m., Vice President Dick Cheney, the director of national intelligence, a CIA briefer and the president's national security adviser huddled in the Oval Office for the daily intelligence briefing, which included the latest on the destruction of the CIA tapes.

CIA Destroyed Interrogation Tapes

In an exclusive interview with ABC News, Bush said today that he did not know about the destruction of the CIA videotapes of detainee interrogations.

The president said he was told just a few days ago.

"My first recollection of whether the tapes existed or whether they were destroyed was when [CIA director] Michael Hayden briefed me," Bush told ABC News' Martha Raddatz.

"There's a preliminary inquiry going on, and I think you'll find that a lot more data, facts, will be coming out," he said. "That's good. It will be interesting to know what the true facts are."

There was also news Tuesday that Russian President Vladimir Putin may be named prime minister after his term is up — something the president said he wouldn't want to do after the U.S. election.

"I think we just better let the elections play out and see what happens," Bush said. "Just let me say this — it is not something I would want to do."

This morning the president quickly turned his focus from foreign policy to domestic policy, delivering a briefing to the press about teen drug abuse.

Alcohol Addiction

Some teenagers were exceedingly nervous around the president. After the cameras left, he told a few who were recovering addicts,"Your president made the same kind of choice. … I had to quit drinking. … Addiction competes for your affection. … You fall in love with alcohol."

Later, Bush told ABC News he opened up to a girl about his own alcohol abuse, because he was touched by her story.

"I was trying to encourage her to stay strong," Bush said. "I wanted her, this young girl who's struggling with drug addiction, to know that others who might be famous have the same issue that she's not alone."

The president told ABC News he quit drinking more than 20 years ago — cold turkey.

"I doubt I'd be standing here if I hadn't quit drinking whiskey, and beer and wine and all that," the president said Tuesday to ABC News' Martha Raddatz during an exclusive tour of the White House residence.

"I had too much to drink one night, and the next day I didn't have any," Bush said. "The next day I decided to quit and I haven't had a drink since 1986."

The president said his alcohol problem wasn't severe, but said he still had a hard time quitting.

"I wasn't a knee-walking drunk," Bush said. "It's a difficult thing to do, which is to kick an addiction."

Bush said in his case, he made the decision to quit when he realized drinking was interfering with his family.

"Alcohol can compete with your affections. It sure did in my case," Bush said. "Affections with your family, or affections for exercise."

"It was the competition that I decided just wasn't worth it," he said.

Time for Reflection

Minutes after his speech on drugs, the president was back in the Oval Office for meetings with Italy's president.

In a day packed with events, Bush said he still had time for reflection.

"You can reflect when you are exercising," Bush said. "You can reflect, you know, late at night when I am upstairs with the first lady."

But there will be little of that tonight.

The president and first lady are spending the evening hosting one of many holiday parties, which for them means mostly posing for pictures until long after the sun goes down.

With about 13 months left in his presidential tenure, Bush said there are some things he'll miss about being the president.

"I'll miss a lot of the comforts and I'll miss a lot of people," he said.

Bush said he would miss leading the men and women of the military.

"It's such an honor to be the commander in chief of a group of people that are dedicated to the country, selfless, brave," he said.

"I'm going to miss avoiding traffic jams, not being on helicopters, Camp David will be a place we'll miss," Bush said. "On the other hand we'll have memories that will last our life."