This is a partial transcript of "The Big Story With John Gibson," Nov. 15, 2004, that has been edited for clarity.

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JOHN GIBSON, HOST: With his successful campaign behind him, President Bush is recommending his campaign manager become the new head of the Republican National Committee (search).

Ken Mehlman (search) would work to expand the party's base and promote its agenda.

Mr. Mehlman joins me now from RNC Headquarters to talk about where the Republicans go from here.


GIBSON: So, thank you, Ken. Appreciate you coming on today.

MEHLMAN: Appreciate the opportunity.

GIBSON: Well, where do the Republicans go from here? You are on the mountain top. Is there a higher mountain top to climb?

MEHLMAN: First of all, I'm not on the mountain top yet. Obviously, the members of the Republican National Committee will decide who the chairman is. I appreciate the president's confidence and I look forward to talking with the men and women who serve on the RNC to earn their vote. And I look forward to that happening in January.

I think we, as a party, have a tremendous opportunity. I think as a result of the election, the American people have clearly provided a mandate to the President, to the speaker and to the majority leader. And we look forward to using the next couple years to build our party, to enact an agenda of bold, conservative reform for the American people. And to bring new faces and new voices into the party, just as we did in the 2004 elections.

GIBSON: Over the weekend I saw James Carville (search) on one of the programs and he said, "The problem with the Democrats is they don't have an agenda, a true agenda. The Republicans did. George Bush was very specific about what he wanted to do and that appealed to the American people. Where the Democrats were just sort of, saying, "We're for clean air and better schools and so forth."


GIBSON: What is the president's agenda going into this second term?

MEHLMAN: I think the president's agenda, as you point out, is very clear. First of all, it's to continue to take the fight to the terrorists. It's an understanding that by fighting them in Fallujah, we are safer here in the United States.

But it also includes fundamental tax reform. It includes reforming Social Security (search) to enhance the system, so it's around for younger generations. It includes tort reform. It includes an energy bill. It includes taking the gains of "No Child Left Behind" and applying them throughout the educational system, so when someone graduates from high school, you know that diploma means real accomplishment and you know that there's a job waiting for them.

It's all of those things; it's a very specific agenda. I think it's an agenda around which we can continue to bring new folks into the party. We can continue to expand the party.

If you think about it, John, 50 years ago a movement started in this country to say that it will be wrong to deny someone, because of the color of their skin, a seat at the lunch counter. We now have an agenda that says we want to make sure that every African-American who wants to have the dream can own their own lunch counter. It is called the "ownership agenda".

So, it's a very bold agenda. It's an agenda that I think will bring new faces and new voices into the party. I'm very excited about working with Speaker Hastert and Majority Leader Frist and the president to make it a reality.

GIBSON: All right. Ken Mehlman is going to be the new RNC boss. He is going to come here often and speak to us many times. So, Ken...

MEHLMAN: I look forward to it.

GIBSON: Thanks very much. I appreciate it.

MEHLMAN: Absolutely.

GIBSON: And we'll see you again some time soon.

MEHLMAN: Thanks.

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