This is a partial transcript of "Special Report With Brit Hume," Jan. 18, 2005, that has been edited for clarity.
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BRIT HUME, HOST: With his second inauguration now only a couple of days off, President Bush is looking back at the accomplishments and the controversies of his first term. Looking ahead as well to the opportunities of a second.
Here now is more of his conversation today with FOX News senior White House correspondent Jim Angle.
JIM ANGLE, FOX NEWS SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: You’ve got something now only a few presidents get, a second term. How is a second term different from a first one?
GEORGE W. BUSH (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, first of all, I know what to anticipate. And that is the unexpected. And secondly, it’s — I’m no longer a threat politically. In other words, since I’m not going to run for office again, people don’t have to view me as a threat. And hopefully that will enable people from both parties come together and get some big things done for the country.
ANGLE: Does that make it easier or harder?
PRESIDENT BUSH: I think it should make it easier to the extent Washington is a zero sum game, which it has been to on certain occasions during the first four years. But I think the second term provides a great opportunity to pull people together.
ANGLE: You know, terrorists, as you know, of course, did not sign the Geneva Convention.
PRESIDENT BUSH: Right.
ANGLE: And they clearly don’t abide by it as they go around beheading innocent civilians. But there is controversy over how they are treated once captured. Do we need to do something to update the Geneva Convention? Is there some international way of coming to an agreement about how these people are treated? And how we question them when they may have knowledge of plans to attack Americans or people in other countries?
PRESIDENT BUSH: Right. Now, that is a very interesting question. And I thought long and hard about that. I come down on that question this way, Jim. One, it is very important for America, that is trying to lead the world toward rural law, compassion, human compassion and dignity, to adhere to that principle; whether it’s deal with the terrorists or not dealing with terrorists.
In other words, we have an example to set. And so that’s why I said early on, we will adhere to the spirit of the Geneva Convention, although we fully recognize that an Al Qaeda terrorist is not subject to the Geneva Convention. I mean we are a nation that condemns others for torture, and so we ourselves can’t, shouldn’t torture and won’t.
You know, I think it may be useful for people to discuss the relevancy of the Geneva Convention. As far as this administration goes, we’ll adhere to the spirit and we’ll treat people with respect.
ANGLE: Senator Biden suggested in the confirmation hearings for Condi Rice this morning that the administration has not leveled with the American people about the cost of the war in Iraq, and that you knew more than you were sharing with everyone else.
PRESIDENT BUSH: We are in war. Things change on the ground. War is not — war is not predictable, aspects of war aren’t totally predictable. And what the American people need is that we’ve given our commanders on the ground the flexibility necessary to adjust to the conditions on the ground. And we level with Congress as best as we possibly can about the cost of war. After all, Congress has to appropriate.
ANGLE: Let me ask you one last question about Iraq. The election on paper wasn’t that easy for you. Though you get high marks for the War on Terrorism, we didn’t find WMD in Iraq, even though everyone, not just the United States thought we would. And we are involved in a war on which the public was and is divided.
PRESIDENT BUSH: Sure.
ANGLE: How do you think you overcame that on Election Day?
PRESIDENT BUSH: I think that first of all, a lot of people understand the Iraq theater is a part of the war on terror. And many Americans recognize that had Saddam Hussein stayed in power, had thwarted the will of the free world beings he would be even stronger and more destabilizing.
And a lot of opinion is shaped by the fact that it’s been very difficult. The unfortunate loss of life for our soldiers, it breaks people’s hearts, including mine. I can understand why there is anxiety about the loss of life.
But something’s happening in Iraq that is so different from the Saddam era. And that’s elections. And there are brave people fighting off these thugs who want to stop the elections. These brave people need our support. Over time what will happen is the Iraqis will be more fully prepared and equipped to do the fight themselves.
And when a democracy emerges — a democracy, by the way, with representing — that reflects the cultures and habits of the Iraqi people, the world — the dynamics of the world will change. Think about the influence a free society in Iraq will have on Iran. I mean the Iranians will see what it means to leave in a free society. Think about the influence that Afghanistan had in parts of the world that haven’t embraced democracy. I mean things are changing.
ANGLE: You see a sort of democratic domino theory?
PRESIDENT BUSH: I see the fact people want to be free. They long to be free, and that freedom is beginning to take hold. I’m going to talk about this in my inaugural address. This is an amazing time in the history of the world. And a nation with the influence we have should continue to help people realize their dreams and live in freedom.
ANGLE: You have time for one more question?
PRESIDENT BUSH: Sure. Depends on what it is.
ANGLE: It will be one you can handle.
PRESIDENT BUSH: As opposed to the other ones.
ANGLE: How different is the presidency than you thought it would be? President Clinton used to joke that it was a lot like running a cemetery. There were a lot of people under you, but nobody was listening.
PRESIDENT BUSH: Yes. Right. Pretty good. I would say that the presidency is one in which you better be prepared for the unexpected. In the Oval Office, there are busts of Churchill, Lincoln and Dwight Eisenhower. And I put those in there right after I got sworn in four years ago.
And after September 11, I was sitting down in the Oval reflecting. It dawned on me all three of those busts were the busts of war leaders. But I didn’t put them in there because we had shared the same experience in one way or the other. And then it dawned on me that the president must be ready for the unexpected.
The other thing about the presidency, which I knew would be the case. But you never realize the extent to which is the case is that it’s a decision-making job. You better be able to make decisions. You need to listen to good people. But ultimately the decision comes down to you, the president. And you have to decide and you’ve got to stick by your decisions.
ANGLE: Mr. President, thanks for joining us.
PRESIDENT BUSH: Thanks, Jim.
ANGLE: And congratulations.
PRESIDENT BUSH: Good luck to you.
ANGLE: Thank you.
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