This is a partial transcript of "The Big Story With John Gibson," January 12, 2005, that has been edited for clarity.

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GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We renew that purpose today to make our country more just and generous, to affirm the dignity of our lives and every life. This work continues. The story goes on. And an angel still rides in the whirlwind and directs this storm. God bless you all and God bless America.


JOHN GIBSON, HOST: President Bush saluting God and country during his first inaugural (search) address. He's always been very open about his religious faith. Yesterday, President Bush told "The Washington Times" that he doesn't see how you or anybody could be a president without a relationship with the Lord.

Is there room for God in the White House? Joining me in Washington, Republican Strategist Genevieve Wood and Democratic Strategist Michael Brown.

Michael, you first, does it trouble you much to hear the President talk about God in this way?

MICHAEL BROWN, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Of course not. How could it trouble anybody? I think it's important that we don't question anyone's faith and how they believe and what they use to find inner strength to make tough decisions.

So, now, I don't have a problem with it. I'm frankly proud of it and glad he's using whatever he needs to use to help him get through the day and get through his life and help him make tough decisions.

GIBSON: Well Genevieve, as you can see, Michael is not going to be the one to pick a fight over this, but somebody is. And what do you expect to be coming the president's way for having said this?

GENEVIEVE WOOD, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Well, I think most Americans out there, John, are people like Michael, who many of them are Christians themselves.

But even if they're not, maybe they never even go to church, I think they like the fact that there's a man in the White House, the President of the United States cares more about what something — someone, in this case God — thinks of his decisions. Is more concerned about what he will say on Judgment Day than he is what the headlines, maybe even "The Washington Post" will say about the President's decisions or his faith.

And sure, look, there are a lot of interesting people out there like Michael Newdow, who wants to take "under God" out of the Pledge. And now I understand he doesn't want the president to swear the inaugural oath on a bible. There are so few people out there like that, but I think they're in the minority. They've got the right to think that way. They've got the right to make editorials and write editorials about it.

But the majority of Americans I think take great comfort that we have a president who has a strong faith and seeks direction from God.

GIBSON: OK. Let me read this quote a little more fully.

The President told "The Washington Times" "I fully understand that the job of the president is and must always be protecting the great right of people to worship or not worship, as they see fit. That's what distinguishes us from the Taliban. The greatest freedom we have, or one of the greatest, is the right to worship the way you see fit or not."

So, Michael, why would that trouble somebody like — I know I'm not asking Michael Newdow — but why would that trouble people who are trying to get "In God We Trust" off the money, or "So help us God" out of the Pledge of Allegiance?

Why would it be troubling to see a guy saying, "Look, I don't want us to be the Taliban, but I'm going to acknowledge God in the way that I lead the country?"

BROWN: Again, I don't know why some people can be troubled. I think we can certainly sit here, and as we have a conversation assume why some people would be troubled, because clearly some people believe in — and clearly a direct correlation to make sure...

GIBSON: OK. Separation of church and state issue. That's what we're going to hear.

BROWN: Obviously. And some people obviously, clearly believe in that. But the Taliban reference is something that he thought was important to draw an analogy, or draw a correlation for his beliefs and other beliefs.

But again, I think that's one of those things that's such a tough issue: it's so subjective. You have to do what you need to do in your daily life and have to value it the way you want to value it. You have to believe the way you want to believe. I don't think anyone can take shots if somebody wants to have a bible at their inaugural or what they want to do.

So, from my standpoint, John, I don't understand it, again, because it's so subjective. It's about that person. It's about what you believe. It's about what your family believes.

GIBSON: Genevieve, suppose Michael is the vanguard of the new Democrats, under whoever's going to lead the DNC...

WOOD: I'm liking it so far.

GIBSON: ... and they're going to come out and they're going to run in two years and they're not going to be hostile to religionists, and they're not going to make fun of evangelicals, and they're going to be understanding like Michael just was. I would think that might be a little troubling to Republicans who have been counting on Democrats to upset religionists and get the religionists out to rote for Republicans?

WOOD: Implode?

Well, but if you're a Christian first, a person of faith first, and a Republican second as I am, I obviously hope that the Democratic Party does take up that mantle. I would love to have to fight over those kinds of voters. We'll see if it happens.

There are a few folks out there that don't sound quite as sensible as Michael does tonight in the Democratic Party. But look, there are a lot of people out there, a good number, some I would say on the Democratic side and others, who don't like the ultimate right and wrong kind of argument.

I think anytime that somebody, whether it's the president or anybody in political office, invokes faith, invokes the name of God, some people say, 'Oh, well this is going to be the attempt to push morality on us." I don't think that's what the President was doing, but I think that is why you see some people out there trying to stir the pot.

GIBSON: So Michael, I want to demonstrate to you here that I can handle your curveballs. So, is this the advice you would give the Democratic Party? Because it was only a couple of months ago, really, that I could have expected Democrats to be screaming bloody murder about somebody who thinks God is speaking to him, running the country.

BROWN: I think the troubling part, John, is that I think frankly, when during that campaign cycle was when people do talk about their beliefs and who they believe in and which God they worship. That if you don't believe as they do, then something's wrong with you; that you're a sinner or that you've done something wrong or you're not living your life the right way.

I think that's where people have been troubled by it. Because again, as I mentioned, it's a very subjective thing. It's about what you believe and some people choose to wear it on their sleeve, some people don't. And I don't think we should criticize either way how you choose to believe in your God.

GIBSON: It is a brave new world of reasonableness on both sides of the same question.

WOOD: Well, John, I don't think Americans will be fooled by people who aren't genuine, either.

GIBSON: Thank you, Michael and thank you, Genevieve. We will pick up this God issue on another day.

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