WASHINGTON – President Bush said Wednesday that he doesn't spend much of his time worrying but that he does fear for Americans and others in insurgency-wracked Iraq (search) and for the safety of his 23-year-old twin daughters.
"I spend most of my time worrying about people losing their lives in Iraq, both Americans and Iraqis," Bush told The Associated Press and other broadcasters in an interview.
He suggested he has some concerns about the implications of his high-profile position for his daughters, Jenna and Barbara.
"I worry about letting these little girls get into a situation where something unpleasant could happen to them," Bush said. "We're pretty much over the anger — not anger, the frustrations — of living in a fishbowl."
He also joked that he used to worry about wife, Laura — "until she got an 85 percent popularity rating." Mrs. Bush's popularity is nearly double her husband's and the first lady has taken on a more outspoken, high-profile role in Bush's second term.
But, Bush added: "You know, I don't worry all that much, frankly. ... I've got peace of mind."
The president said he has organized his White House team so that aides — including the many "buddies of mine from a long time ago" who are on his staff — have access to him, in hopes of ensuring he gets candid advice.
Bush was practical about his proposal to create private retirement accounts within Social Security, saying that the program's long-term solvency problems could be fixed without them but that he'd rather not. He repeated his intention to continue travel widely to try to persuade a reluctant Congress to go along.
"Personal accounts would make Social Security a much better option," Bush said in a round-table session with board members of the Radio and Television News Directors Association. "It doesn't matter how long it takes. This is such an important issue you have to get it right."