Will Bush Have Time to Focus on Domestic Issues?

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This is a partial transcript of "The Big Story With John Gibson," Nov. 11, 2004, that has been edited for clarity.

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GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I earned some capital. I've earned capital in this election and I'm going to spend it for what I told the people I'd spend it on, which is, you've heard the agenda: Social Security and tax reform, moving this economy forward, education, fighting and winning the war on terror.


JOHN GIBSON, HOST: President Bush outlining his agenda for the next four years. He's been reaching out for the broad support of Americans and appealing to Democrats to bridge this political divide. Will the President spend the next four years putting out fires around the globe or will he be able to turn his focus to issues here at home?

Joining me in Washington, Simon Rosenberg, President and founder of the New Democrat Network (search), and Republican Strategist Dylan Glenn.

So, Dylan, let me go to you first. The President would like to do things, like Social Security (search) and he's got ideas about tax reform, et cetera. Is he going to have the luxury of doing that or is he going to be occupied by events overseas?

DYLAN GLENN, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Well, John, I think first and foremost you can certainly argue that he received a mandate on November 2nd to act. This has been a President that's done nothing but act and lead. I think he's the first president since 1936 to actually make gains in both houses. So, I think you can suggest that there's a mandate for his agenda, which he campaigned on clearly.

GIBSON: Yes, but now you're just going to start a fight with Mr. Rosenberg about mandate. I don't want to go there. I want to know if he is going to have — if you think — he's going to have the luxury to — Iraq is going on, he's got to pay attention to that; he's got the western Europeans carping at his heels; Tony Blair is coming today to pound on the table about something.

Will he have the luxury of actually dealing with the domestic issues that he said he wanted to deal with?

GLENN: Presidents often are at the whim of the winds of events around the globe. No question about it. This President had a strong domestic policy in his agenda and then the events of 9/11 took place. But people forget, not only did we have additional tax reform after 9/11, we also had a Medicare prescription drug benefit bill done.

They don't just turn their attention to foreign affairs. This government functions under the leadership of an agenda that a president decides.

GIBSON: OK, Simon, your turn.

The President, in a way, you sort of heard the Kerry mantra: he's making some attempts to reach out to the Canadians and Tony Blair's coming and he's going to make nice with him and so forth. But is he going to have the luxury of being able to kind of, compartmentalize all this trouble overseas and deal with domestic issues?

SIMON ROSENBERG, PRESIDENT, NEW DEMOCRAT NETWORK: I think he can do both. And I think he's — what's going to be important for him is really what he chooses to focus on. What the country needs now is a return to growth, greater fiscal integrity in our government; we need Iraq to be doing better than it is certainly today.

And I think what America's really crying out for is more affordable quality health care for more Americans. And that's the agenda that I think Democrats would be interested in working with the President on. And I think, certainly he has shown that he has the capacity to work both overseas and here at home.

GIBSON: OK. There you go.

Dylan, look at Simon, reaching out, giving the President credit. He has the capacity, he can do things. He's saying he's willing to work with the Republican side. So?

GLENN: Can I take it one step further? He has more than the capacity, he has a history. The first bill that he passed, the Education Bill, was a bipartisan bill. Our Tax Reform Bill was a bipartisan bill. And I think Simon's absolutely right.

We want to continue growth. This administration will work to continue growth, a logical step is tax reform, which the President campaigned on and I think a lot of people would argue that the people spoke about.

And so, I think he can do both.

I think it's important for him to do both. And this is a man that says what he means and means what he says and we have to take him at that.

GIBSON: OK. I think we came close to a promise from Simon. So, I want to exploit that opening.

Simon, are you telling that the New Democrat Network is going to recommend to democratic leaders: work with President Bush, we need to get some things done. Rather than, let problems fester so you have something to run on in four years?

ROSENBERG: I don't think anybody in Washington ever wants problems to fester. I think we're all here to get the people's business done. I think there's going to be, as there has been, an honest disagreement about how to go about doing these things. And I think you are going to see a spirited opposition from the Democrats, if they don't agree with where the President is going.

But if the President wants to meet us halfway and wants to work with the Democrats and incorporate our ideas and our values into his governing, I think he's going to have willing partners on our side.

GIBSON: All right. Dylan Glenn and Simon Rosenberg, thanks. We'll see how this deal works out. We'll have you both back some time. Appreciate it.

ROSENBERG: Thank you so much.

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