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Hannity

Bush & Blair: A Special Relationship

This is a rush transcript from "Hannity," November 24, 2010. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

SEAN HANNITY, HOST: Throughout the 20th century totalitarian regimes from Nazi Germany to Communist Russia rose to threaten the free world. It was in large parts the efforts of two nations, the United States and the United Kingdom that ensured that they wound up -- in the words of Ronald Reagan -- on the ash heap of history.

Now Franklin Roosevelt and Winston Churchill defeated Hitler's Germany in places from North Africa to Normandy. Three decades later Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan starred down the communist threat from the halls of Geneva to the beaches of Grenada.

On September 11th, 2001, the 21st century's fight for freedom fell to American President George W. Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair.

Now despite their political differences they forged their relationship that shocked even their closest advisers.

Now we spoke with both men and some of the people who knew them best about that relationship and how it shaped the War on Terror.

Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

GEORGE W. BUSH, 43RD PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Good job. Thank you.

I admire courage in people. And Tony Blair is a courageous person.

God bless America.

HANNITY (voice-over): In the aftermath of the September 11th attacks George Bush and Tony Blair faced a new world. Radical Islam threatened freedom and they vowed to take the fight to the enemy.

ANDREW ROBERTS, HISTORIAN: Up until that point Bill Clinton heard that many lobbed a few cruise missiles into Afghanistan. We haven't really appreciated that this was a proper existential struggle. This was something that both Bush and Blair knew beforehand but 9/11 gave them the power they needed to do something about it.

HANNITY: Over the course of eight years Bush and Blair fought to beat back the Islamist threat and plant democracy in its place.

JOSHUA BOLTEN, FMR. CHIEF OF STAFF TO GEORGE W. BUSH: What I saw when I became chief of staff in early 2006 I thought was one of the most extraordinary relations I saw within the closed doors of the Oval Office.

BUSH: So help me God.

HANNITY: When George W. Bush was elected president in December if 2000, many wondered how he would get along with the British prime minister or whether they would get along at all.

STEPHEN HADLEY, FMR. NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: Prime Minister Blair had a very special relationship and strong relationship with President Clinton. And the question really was, how he was going to perceive this new president, President George W. Bush, and whether that close relationship with President Clinton would be a barrier in some way to forming a close relationship between President Bush and Prime Minister Blair.

AIR FLEISCHER, FMR. WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Tony Blair is labor. George Bush is conservative. They have reasons not to get along, at least on paper and at least politically speaking.

HANNITY: When news reached Britain that George Bush had defeated Al Gore in the presidential election, Tony Blair placed his first call to the president-elect.

JONATHAN POWELL, FMR. CHIEF OF STAFF TO TONY BLAIR: At that time President Clinton was staying with Prime Minister Blair at Checkers. It was a farewell visit. Just as President Clinton's helicopter took off, the Marine One, Tony and I went into the office, put that first call through to President Bush.

And he explained to President Bush on the phone that he'd been a good personal friend to President Clinton and he intends to remain a friend of President Clinton even though he'd left office. And President Bush said that he respected that and he expected nothing less from someone like Tony Blair.

HANNITY: Bush and Blair met for the first time at Camp David in February of 2001.

BUSH: Welcome. It's my honor to welcome the prime minister from our strongest friend and closest ally to Camp David. Laura and I invited he and Sherry over. I wasn't sure what to expect because his reputation was left of center politician and very close to Bill Clinton.

POWELL: So slightly nervous, get-to-know-you type of meeting. We flew in by Marine One into Camp David. And the president was there to meet Tony Blair. They hadn't met each other before. And I guess there was a slight apprehension, like a first date if you like.

HANNITY: That apprehension did not last long.

TONY BLAIR, FORMER BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: I think most of all we have a -- the same perception of the world. And the belief in freedom. The belief in standing up for what is right and just. And everything that I've heard today confirms to be in my view that that relationship will carry on and strengthen in the years to come.

BUSH: As they told me he's a pretty charming guy. He put the charm offensive on me.

(LAUGHTER)

BUSH: And it worked.

I felt we hit it off immediately. And he's an easy guy to be around. Our conversations were wide ranging. I learned a lot from him. He turned out to be a very steady, good friend.

POWELL: What the Prime Minister found was someone who was very smart politically. He had a very nice line, a self-deprecating jokes. President Bush would always make fun of himself which is rather endearing.

FLEISCHER: They hit it off, basically the same age, hit it off the same international points of view. And they just enjoyed each other's company.

POWELL: It's very much a family event at Camp Dave. I remember we all went to watch the film "Meet the Family" in the cinema there. I remember Condee Rice gained fast asleep and had to be woken up when the lights came up at the end of the movie.

HADLEY: They got along famously from the very beginning. And I think it's because they genuinely liked each other very much but also they each knew how important the relationship between the United States and the U.K. is and would continue to be under George W. Bush's administration.

HANNITY: At Camp David Bush and Blair also found agreement on an issue that would come to define their partnership. The threat posed by Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein.

BUSH: He has got to understand that we're going to watch him carefully. And if we catch him developing weapons of mass destruction we will take the appropriate action.

BLAIR: We know (INAUDIBLE) given the chance he will develop these weapons of mass destruction.

BUSH: We're actually determined to make that part of the world a more peaceful place by keeping this guy in check.

DAN BARTLETT, FMR. COUNSELOR TO GEORGE W. BUSH: I recall Tony Blair saying is that the only place in the world where U.S. and British warplanes were being shot at almost on a daily basis was in Iraq.

FLEISCHER: Right from the start both of them also had a view of Saddam Hussein as Saddam Hussein was indeed a real threat to this world.

POWELL: We joined with President Clinton in bombing Iraq after they threw the inspectors out. So dealing with Iraq had been something for us right from the first movement that Tony Blair came into government in 1997. The threat had been there and we had to deal with it by airstrikes.

HANNITY: Perhaps more importantly, the meeting fostered a sense of trust between the two leaders which would become critical as America came under attack.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Even though they had different views along the political spectrum, each of them sensed a kindred spirit.

POWELL: The problem is, when you deal in international politics, you often have people who make promises to you who don't deliver on them. What Tony Blair found in President Bush was someone who he gave you his word, would definitely deliver.

BUSH: Listen. He's a man of his word. And I admire that in Tony Blair.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

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