President Bush, shadowed in Europe by a pressing concern back in Washington, said Wednesday he will not select a Supreme Court nominee based on his or her views on abortion or other hot-button political issues.

He urged senators to act "in a dignified way" in what is expected to be a contentious battle over confirming his first nominee to the nation's highest court.

Bush visited this Scandinavian nation to thank Danes for sending troops to Iraq (search) and Afghanistan (search). He strongly defended his decisions on Iraq, climate change, imprisoned terrorism suspects and aid to Africa — all of which have made him unpopular in Europe.

"I understand that people aren't going to agree with decisions I make," Bush said as he stood alongside Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen outside a white mansion that serves as his official summer residence. "I truly believe we're laying the foundation for peace."

Bush traveled to Gleneagles, Scotland, later Wednesday for a summit with leaders of other wealthy nations. But first he met with Bono (search), the rock star who has made aid to Africa his major cause, and planned a bike ride around the sprawling resort where other Group of Eight (search) leaders were gathering.

Bush made his fourth trip to Europe this year just days after Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor (search) announced her retirement. The president said that as he reviews candidates to replace her, "I'll try to assess their character, their interests."

Bush said he would have no "litmus test" that disqualifies candidates because of their opinions on abortion and gay marriage.

"I'll pick people who, one, can do the job, and people who are honest, people who are bright and people who will strictly interpret the Constitution and not use the bench to legislate from," Bush said.

Bush spent a few hours reviewing material on more than a half dozen potential replacements for O'Connor on the flight to Denmark. He has said he will spend a few weeks narrowing a list of candidates and then interviewing some, and his goal is to see a new justice in place by the time the court begins its new term in October.

"I will take my time," Bush said. "I will be thorough in my investigation."

Meanwhile, Senate Democratic Leader Harry, D-Nev., said Attorney General Alberto Gonzales is qualified to sit on the Supreme Court, but added he didn't know whether Gonzales was assured of an "easy way through" to Senate confirmation. Gonzales, a longtime friend of Bush, often is mentioned as a potential nominee for the high court.

Bush spent a few hours reviewing material on more than a half dozen potential replacements for O'Connor on the flight to Denmark. He has said he will spend a few weeks narrowing a list of candidates and then interviewing some, and his goal is to see a new justice in place by the time the court begins its new term in October.

Bush bristled at criticism of Gonzales. Conservatives said they aren't convinced his beliefs on affirmative action and abortion are far enough to the right for their liking.

"I don't like it when a friend gets criticized," Bush said. "I'm loyal to my friends.

"And all the sudden this fella, who is a good public servant and a really fine person, is under fire," Bush said. "And so do I like it? No, I don't like it. At all."

Bush spent his 59th birthday here to thank Denmark for the several hundred troops the Scandinavian nation has contributed to the U.S.-led fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Outside Fredensborg Palace, where Bush had lunch with Queen Margrethe II (search) and her husband, a group of people held small U.S. and Danish flags -- and a large banner proclaiming, "Happy Birthday George." A smaller group held several protest banners urging U.S. and Danish withdrawal from Iraq and "Peace."

Fogh Rasmussen said the Danes were glad to help with both missions.

"We share the belief that freedom is universal and we share the belief that in the struggle between democracy and dictatorship you cannot stay neutral," the prime minister said.

After lunch with Queen Margrethe and about 50 other guests, Bush headed for the summit in Scotland where discussion about the world's changing climate and aid to Africa were at the top of the agenda.

Bush said he is proud of his administration's tripling of U.S. aid to Africa, and his decision to double aid again by 2010. But his pledge still falls short of the commitment sought by British Prime Minister Tony Blair, the summit host.

On climate change, Bush said warming temperatures are partly caused by manmade emissions. But he renewed his objection to the international Kyoto Protocol that mandates certain reductions.

"I think there's a better way forward," Bush said. "I would call it the post-Kyoto era, where we can work together to share technologies, to control greenhouse gases as best as possible."