This is a partial transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," October 18, 2006, that has been edited for clarity.
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BILL O'REILLY, HOST: Now for the top story tonight, part three of my interview with the president of the United States. We begin in the East Wing of the White House:
O'REILLY: When you see your approval rating at 40 percent, what goes through your mind?
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: That a president must make decisions based upon principle and stand by the principles by which he makes decisions in order to achieve peace. And that sometimes people will agree with my decisions and sometimes they won't, but you cannot make decisions based upon opinion polls.
O'REILLY: Is it discouraging that more people don't see why you're doing what you're doing?
BUSH: Discouraging isn't the right word. It encourages me to go out and continue to make the case why we need to succeed in Iraq, why we need to make sure that we, you know, multi-lateralize the North Korean issue to achieve peace, that we got to keep taxes low to keep the economy growing.
But look, I've been up in the polls. And I've been, you know, down in the polls. A president that tries to make decisions, Bill, on polls will be a president that fails the American people.
O'REILLY: I'm just wondering, psychologically. You work hard, right?
BUSH: I think I do.
O'REILLY: I don't think you can ever take a day off, right?
BUSH: That's true.
O'REILLY: OK. Seven days a week — bang, bang, bang. You're in the most intense time — one of the most intense times in U.S. history. And then you're getting pounded day after day after day — pounded, pounded, pounded. How do you process that?
BUSH: I believe in what I'm doing. If I didn't believe in what I'm doing, I guess the pounding would end up affecting me. But when you believe in your soul, in the very fiber of your system, that taking on these extremists and radicals in the Middle East is necessary to have peace in the long run for our children, then you move on. And you — and this is a job where you have to do what you think is right. I get a lot of advice. I listen to a lot of smart people, but ultimately, it's the president's job to make the decisions.
O'REILLY: But then Woodward says you don't listen to anybody. You just blow them off.
BUSH: Well, that's his opinion. He just doesn't know how it works, because I've got a lot of good, strong people around me that — you know, they walk in the Oval Office. They're not intimidated. They say here's what's on mind, but I listen to a lot of people from outside as well. Of course I listen to people.
But this is a job where there's only one decision maker. And that's me. And I make decisions based upon principle. I make decisions based on the information I have. And I believe the decisions I have made, no matter how difficult they are, are going to make this world a better place.
O'REILLY: And if they don't? If it doesn't work in Iraq and other things like that?
BUSH: Well, it's going to work in Iraq. And — unless we leave before the job is finished. There's a lot of positive things in Iraq, such as 15 million Iraqis have voted for an election. Now admittedly, things have changed since the election. And the fundamental question is do we have the flexibility in our plan to meet the enemy as the enemy adjusts? And we do.
But I — look, history is interesting. I read three books on George Washington last year. And my opinion is that if they're still analyzing the first president, the 43rd president ought to be doing what he thinks is right. And eventually, historians will come and realize whether or not — what the decisions I made made sense.
O'REILLY: If the Republicans lose control of the House and the Senate in a few weeks in the election.
O'REILLY: Is that going to influence you at all?
BUSH: I don't buy into that premise for starters. It's kind of a trick question, because the minute I start answering your question, then the word is well, Bush anticipates losing. I don't anticipate losing. I anticipate a tough fight.
O'REILLY: But you have to plan for it, right? Worst case?
BUSH: No, not really.
BUSH: Because — I mean, there will be times to adjust, but I don't intend — I really believe we're going to hold both. I recognize it's a tough fight.
I believe the issue, however, is, who best to keep the economy growing? I am convinced the Democrats want to raise taxes on the American people. And the other issue is, who best to secure this country. And we had some interesting votes recently in the Congress on that very issue.
O'REILLY: The Foley deal, is that going to hurt the GOP?
BUSH: In a — with these House races, all races are local. And the president can help set the tone. The president can help frame the issues, but all races are local.
And just, I guess it depends on the district. Obviously, the Foley district itself affects that race.
BUSH: Although there was a survey that showed the Republicans, you know, within striking distance in that district.
O'REILLY: All right, in a moment, we'll wrap things up with the president by talking about his faith and how people don't like his faith and the culture war.
O'REILLY: Continuing now with the president of the United States, who was under attack on the personal front constantly.
O'REILLY: When people criticize me, I think I'm the second most criticized person in the country. You're first by a large margin, but I'm second.
O'REILLY: I get really furious, especially if it's dishonest.
O'REILLY: But you don't — you're different than I am. You're more philosophical. See, I'm sitting there going oh, if I had this guy's neck, you know.
BUSH: Well, I'm not as big as you are, so I can't — you know — I wouldn't be able to get away with that. Look, I understand politics. Remember, I'm a man who watched a guy I love dearly go through the same thing I'm going through. And that's my dad. And I — it's much harder when you see somebody you love being criticized than when you...
O'REILLY: Now did you get angry about that?
BUSH: I did get angry about it. And…
O'REILLY: But when it's you, you don't get that angry?
BUSH: No, not really, not really.
O'REILLY: You don't take it personally?
BUSH: No, I don't.
O'REILLY: Because they are trying to destroy you, you know that?
BUSH: Well, it's too bad. And I think most Americans don't want to see the president destroyed. I think most Americans want this country to come together and work for the common good. I suspect a lot of Americans are sick and tired of Washington politics.
O'REILLY: Oh, you bet.
BUSH: And my job is to, again, talk as clearly and plainly as I can to the American people about the stakes in the Middle East and the stakes in the Far East and the stakes in this economy and the stakes in making sure our children get an education, and try to diffuse the politics as best as I can.
The problem is is that we're now headed into a political season.
O'REILLY: You bet.
BUSH: And you know, it's just — it's — listen, I hear the criticism, but I believe — it's like these polls you asked me about. If you do not believe in what you stand for, in other words, if you're somebody that doesn't stand on principle, then all that matters. If you believe in what you're doing and believe in the principles by which you make a decision, such as freedom is universal. It's a principle.
O'REILLY: You stand — yes, you sink or swim on your principle.
O'REILLY: That's it.
O'REILLY: But there's also something else in play, Mr. President. The secular progressives — I just wrote a book called "Culture Warrior." And we sent you a free copy, by the way.
O'REILLY: The secular progressives...
BUSH: Might entice me to actually read it.
O'REILLY: The secular progressives don't like you because you're a man of faith.
O'REILLY: You know that.
BUSH: Yes. That causes me to be sad for people who don't like somebody because he happens to believe in the Almighty.
O'REILLY: But you know that's in play.
BUSH: Absolutely. They think you are some kind of evangelical. God tells you what to do and you go out and do it. And they hate that.
BUSH: I guess that I have pity for people who believe that. They don't understand the relationship between man and the Almighty, then. And.
O'REILLY: Don't believe it?
BUSH: Well, that's their choice. The great thing about America is we're equally American. In other words, those of us who believe in an Almighty, and those who don't are equal. And that's the way we got to keep it, because it distinguishes us from Usama bin Laden or the Taliban.
Well, let me finish my point.
BUSH: And so I welcome the diversity of views when it comes to religion. And I think that anybody who dislikes somebody because he happens to be a religious person is someone to be pitied.
O'REILLY: But they say that you make policy based on your faith.
BUSH: I make policy based upon principles that I believe are important. And my faith sustains me. My faith gives me comfort and strength.
But I make decisions — listen when I campaigned, I said vote for me and I will help reform the school system. Vote for me, we'll make Medicare work better. Vote for me, I'll defend the United States of America with all our might.
And those are the fundamental issues facing the country. And if people want to ascribe all kinds of, you know, all kinds of motives to my thinking, they just don't understand me.
O'REILLY: OK. We'd like to thank the White House staff for all their help.
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