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Hannity

George W. Bush Reflects on Presidency in Premiere of 'Hannity'

This is a rush transcript from "Hannity," January 12, 2009. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

SEAN HANNITY, HOST: And now, with only days to go before President Bush's presidency comes to an end, I got the unique opportunity to see what a day in the life of the president is like. And tonight, we bring you part one, as I joined the president on his daily walk from the White House residence to the Oval Office.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

HANNITY: Got only a few days left.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I know it. We're coming to the end of what has been a fabulous journey. And I've got mixed emotions, of course. I'm going to miss the White House staff, and I'm going to miss being the commander in chief of a fabulous military.

Video: Watch Sean's interview with George W. Bush

But I also recognize that, you know, when your time is up, it's up. And I'm really looking forward to getting home.

HANNITY: And this is your walk every day.

BUSH: It is. I've been doing this for nearly eight years. And I walk out here early in the morning.

HANNITY: You've got a spectacular view of the monument right there.

BUSH: Yes, every morning. You know, you walk down here and here you are treated with one of the great monuments to American history. And the South Lawn is so beautiful, any time of year. It's grand — got a grand vista to it. And the old trees here that, you know, planted by different presidents.

HANNITY: When you know you have just a few days left, do you get emotional? Do you think...

BUSH: You know, I really — I don't get that emotional at this point, because I've been saying goodbye to people for a couple of weeks now. And I'm sure I'll get emotional as we get to the end.

I will tell you, though, that I'm also fortunate to have served and fortunate to be on the front row of history. The swearing in of President- elect Obama is going to be an historic moment for the country. And I will be sitting right there, observing it. And...

HANNITY: And you've gotten to spend a little time with him.

BUSH: Yes. He's a — he's a smart, capable person who is — you know, he's got a presence about him. And he's listened to — he's asked me good questions and listened.

And it's — it's going to be — the lunch the other day was fascinating, because we had two men who were about to be 85, if not, two guys who are 62, and a man 47. And so it was a fascinating generational moment, as well as...

HANNITY: It's a pretty elite club.

BUSH: It is.

HANNITY: Do you think with all that — you know, people talk about legacies of presidents and approval ratings and all of this. Do you think, if every American — and once of the things we wanted to do in this interview was to get to see just a day in the life or a snapshot in the life of you being president.

If they got to read those daily briefings, those threat assessments that you read every day, do you think they'd have a different view of you, the job, the pressure?

BUSH: I think they probably would. But, you know, the circumstances of the moment determine the so-called approval. But one thing that I would hope, when it's all said and done, people say that he was the same man. In other words, I didn't try to change my principles or change my character in order to chase popularity.

And what's more important to me, and I think eventually the American people is not the momentary approval, because I've been up, and I've been not so good. But it's whether or not in the face of danger I've stood strong, and whether or not I've stood true to my convictions.

And I tell people that, when I get home in Texas after this unbelievable experience, I will look in the mirror and be proud of what I see. And that's — and that's really important for all of us in life.

HANNITY: Well, for a lot of us in life, I think if you don't have principles — guiding principles...

BUSH: That's it.

HANNITY: Do you think — this is a question, maybe, that I've often wondered, as we talk about this elite club. I was watching your dad — is that the secret button?

BUSH: It is. Not so secret anymore.

HANNITY: OK. I was watching in this very room, there was your dad and — and President Carter and President-elect Obama...

BUSH: Right. Standing right here.

HANNITY: And Bill Clinton right here. And I was thinking about this very elite club that you've been a part of. And do you think there's a certain destiny? Because I know you're a man of deep faith. Is it a destiny...

BUSH: Yes.

HANNITY: ... or can you aspire to be president?

BUSH: I think — first of all, I think that those who say — you know, I am very reluctant to say, of all the people in the world, I have been picked out by the Almighty. And the reason I'm reluctant to say that is, one, I don't know. Secondly, far be it for me to put myself in the Almighty's shoes or position.

I mean, that — I have received a lot of comfort as a result of my faith, but never have I felt like I was any better than anybody else as a result of my faith, or I was, you know, "the" person as a result of my faith.

Some — some believe that. I have real trouble, as I repeat, I have real trouble, you know, saying, "Well, I know what God was thinking," because I don't. And so, no, when you run for president, it's a combination of, obviously, the experiences you've had in life, the principles you believe, and the desire to get something done.

And we all come with different philosophies and different backgrounds. But I would say the common — the common — the common ground with all of the people who have been president is there has been a desire to get things done on behalf of the American people.

And, you know, I — there's a lot of talk about faith in politics. I always say one of my favorite Bible passages, when it comes to political figures, is I should not be taking a speck out of your eye when I have a log in my own.

HANNITY: That's good for everybody, though.

BUSH: It really is important.

HANNITY: I mean, it's important. As you look in this office, and I look around this office, a lot of tough decisions were made in here. And you once told me that the job of the president is to make decisions.

BUSH: Yes.

HANNITY: What were some of the toughest moments you've had in this office?

BUSH: Well, by far the toughest moment is to make the decision to put men and women of our military into combat.

HANNITY: Did you make that decision here, do you remember?

BUSH: Well, I'm sure — I'm confident — I know a lot of the processes was done here in the Oval. This is where I spend a lot of time. And a lot of the meetings that went into, you know, whether or not it was necessary to remove Saddam Hussein, or whether or not it was important to rid Afghanistan of the Taliban were discussed here and the decision.

A decision, by the way, on an issue of this magnitude, takes a while to arrive at. In other words, before you put people in harm's way, you want to listen to a lot of voices, at least I wanted to, and a lot of opinions, and to think through all of the different circumstances as best as you possibly can before you make the commitment.

And so the toughest call would be — calls have been made, you know, here in the Oval, would be that of war — war, of sending our troops into war.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HANNITY: Now, we're going to have part two of my interview with President Bush on tomorrow night's program, including his advice to the incoming president, Barack Obama.

Watch "Hannity" weeknights at 9 p.m. ET!

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