- The Washington Times - Friday, November 8, 2002

ASSOCIATED PRESS
Excerpts from President Bush's news conference yesterday:

This is an important week for our country and for the world. The United Nations will vote tomorrow on a resolution bringing the civilized world together to disarm Saddam Hussein.
Here at home, our citizens have voted in an election that I believe will strengthen our ability to make progress for all the American people.
I congratulate the men and women, Republicans and Democrats, who were elected this week to public office all across America. I appreciate their willingness to leave their private lives and to serve their communities and to serve our nation. …
Now that the voters have spoken, I urge the members of both political parties to come together to get things done for the American people.
I've talked to leaders of both parties and assured them I want to work with them. I talked to [Senate Majority Leader Tom] Daschle yesterday, and said that, although the Republican Party now leads the Senate, I still want to work with him to get things done for the American people. I talked to [House Minority] Leader [Richard A.] Gephardt as well.
I look forward to working with members of the Congress and the newly elected governors to make America's families safer in their homes and their communities, to make our economy stronger so people can find work, to make our country a better and more compassionate place. …
I'm grateful to the members of Congress, both Republicans and Democrats, that came together to support the war against terror, to authorize, if need be, the use of force to disarm Iraq.
We must bring the same spirit of bipartisan cooperation to the urgent task of protecting our country from the ongoing threat of terrorist attack. The single most important item of unfinished business on Capitol Hill is to create a unified Department of Homeland Security that will vastly improve our ability to protect our coasts and our borders and our communities.
The election may be over, but a terrorist threat is still real. The Senate must pass a bill that will strengthen our ability to protect the American people. And they must pass a bill that preserves the authority every president since John Kennedy has had to act in the interest of national security.
It's imperative that the Congress send me a bill that I can sign before the 107th Congress ends. …

Question: Do you believe that Tuesday's election gave you personally a mandate? And now that you have the Republican Congress, what will you do specifically, beyond terrorism insurance and government spending restraint, to address the real anxieties and the wiped-out feelings of everyday Americans? …
Mr. Bush: First, I think candidates win elections because they're good candidates. … I believe if there is a mandate in any election, at least in this one, it's the people want something to get done. They want people to work together in Washington, D.C., to pass meaningful legislation which will improve their lives.
The best way to win an election is to earn the trust of the voters, and that's what happened in state after state after state. …
Right now we've got to get through a lame-duck session. Lame-duck session, for people who don't know what that means, it means the Senate's coming and the House is coming back between now and Christmas, and they got a few days to get some big things done.
And the most important thing to get done, I want to emphasize, is to get a Department of Homeland Security finished. … I want it done. It is a priority. We got a good bill out of the House, and they need to get a bill out of the Senate into conference and to my desk. …

Q: Mr. President, how confident are you that the Security Council will approve the present resolution on Iraq? And if that happens, what happens next? What's the next step? Is war inevitable?
A: First of all, the resolution we put down is a tough new resolution, talks about material breach and inspections and serious consequences if Saddam Hussein continues to defy the world and not disarm. …
I just talked to [French President] Jacques Chirac, and earlier today I talked to [Russian President] Vladimir Putin. … And I'm optimistic we'll get the resolution vote tomorrow. … It's a statement of intent to once and for all disarm Saddam Hussein. …
When this resolution passes, I will be able to say that the United Nations has recognized the threat and now we're going to work together to disarm him. …

Q: On Iraq, you said many times that if Saddam Hussein does not disarm he will be disarmed militarily if necessary by the U.N. or the U.S. and others.
There's a school of thought that says going to war against Iraq would be a dangerous and misguided idea because it would generate a tremendous amount of anger and hatred at the United States, and out of that we'd essentially be creating many new terrorists who'd want to kill Americans.
What's wrong with that analysis?
A: Yes, well, that's like saying we should not go after al Qaeda because we might irritate somebody and that would create a danger to Americans.
My attitude is you've got to deal with terrorism in a firm way, and if you see threats you deal with them in all different kinds of ways. The only way, in my judgment, to deal with Saddam Hussein is to bring the international community together to convince him to disarm.
But if he's not going to disarm, we'll disarm him in order to make the world a more peaceful place.
And some people aren't going to like that, I understand. But some people won't like it if he ends up with a nuclear weapon and uses it. We have an obligation to lead, and I intend to assume that obligation to make the world more peaceful.
Listen, there's risk in all action we take. But the risk of inaction is not a choice, as far as I'm concerned. The inaction creates more risk than doing our duty to make the world more peaceful. …

Q: I want to return to the election. You're being quite humble about the results and your role, but many conservative lawmakers and many more conservative groups are saying, "Seize the moment." They say early in the new Congress you should push your plan to partially privatize Social Security, you should push for new restrictions on abortion, you should push and renominate the judges that were rejected by the Senate and that you should push a total overhaul of the tax code. What are your views?
A: Well, I appreciate all the advice I'm getting. One of the things about this job if you listen carefully, you get a lot of advice. …
I think the Social Security debate is an incredibly important debate. And we call them personal savings accounts, John, so that people have the option, at their choice, to manage their own money; that would be younger workers. Obviously, we've got to assure older workers that the promises we have made will be kept.
And the danger really is for young workers; that's the threat as to whether Social Security will be around for young workers without some massive tax increase. And I still strongly believe that the best way to achieve security and Social Security for younger workers is to give them the option of managing their own money through their personal savings account. …

Q: You were very gracious earlier giving credit in this last election to the individual candidates, but a lot of those candidates say they have you to thank. …
A: Look, sometimes you win 'em and sometimes you lose elections. That's just the way it is. … I was pleased with the results. …
I really don't put this in personal terms. I know people in Washington like to do that, you know, "George Bush won, George Bush lost." …
There's case after case of people who have put their reputations on the line, who spent a lot of time away from their homes and their families, shaking a lot of hands and putting their hearts and souls in both parties. They deserve the credit. Thank you for trying to give it to me, but they deserve the credit. …

Q: Can you give us an idea, sir, how long do you think it might take for the world to know whether Saddam Hussein actually intends to go along with the call of the world to disarm? Will it be a matter of days or weeks, months, or perhaps a year, sir?
A: Well, Wendell, this much we know: It's so far taken him 11 years and 16 resolutions to do nothing. So we got some kind of history as to the man's behavior. …
The status quo is unacceptable. You can send a few people in there and hope maybe he's nice to them and open up the baby milk factory. It's unacceptable. …
I don't put timetables on anything, but for the sake of peace, the sooner the better. And we'll see. …

Q: Now that the 2004 presidential campaign has unofficially begun, can you tell us whether Vice President [Richard B.] Cheney will be your running mate again? Or will you instead choose someone who might harbor greater presidential ambitions to perhaps succeed you one day?
A: Well, first of all, I'm still recovering from the '02 elections, and we got plenty of time to deal with this issue.
But should I decide to run, Vice President Cheney will be my running mate. He's done an excellent job. … He is a superb vice president, and there's no reason for me to change. …
I'm confident that he will serve another term.

Q: You said this afternoon that the U.N. Security Council vote tomorrow would bring the civilized world together against Iraq, but broad opposition remains all over the world to your policy. Will you continue to try to build support? If so, how will you do that?
A: Well, I think most people around the world realize that Saddam Hussein is a threat and they no one likes war. But they also don't like the idea of Saddam Hussein having a nuclear weapon. Imagine what would happen. …
Imagine Saddam Hussein with a nuclear weapon. Imagine how the Israeli citizens would feel. Imagine how the citizens in Saudi Arabia would feel. Imagine how the world would change, how he could alter diplomacy by the very presence of a nuclear weapon. …
I think a lot of people are saying, you know, "Gosh, we hope we don't have war." I feel the same way, I hope we don't have war. I hope this can be done peacefully. It's up to Saddam Hussein how we're to make that choice.
I also want to remind you that, should we have to use troops, should it become a necessity in order to disarm him, the United States, with friends, will move swiftly with force to do the job. You don't have to worry about that. We will do … what it takes militarily to succeed. …
I don't spend a lot of time taking polls around the world to tell me what I think is the right way to act. I just got to know how I feel.
I feel strongly about freedom. I feel strongly about liberty. And I feel strongly about the obligation to make the world a more peaceful place. And I take those responsibilities really seriously. …

Q: Do you intend to resuscitate the [federal judiciary nominations] of Priscilla Owen and Charles Pickering? And also, how bloody do you think the next Supreme Court nomination will be?
A: Well, first, I want the new chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee to understand that I am very serious about the reforms that I suggested in the East Room about how to get this process of nominating judges and approving judges on the right course, not only for this administration, but future administrations; not only for this Senate, but future senates. …
I also said at the time of Priscilla Owen's not being put to the floor of the Senate that I would hope that the Judiciary Committee would let her name out to the Senate floor at some point in time. We don't have to resubmit them. … Pickering and Owen are still there at the committee level. …
By the way, if they had been let to the floor for vote, we believe they would have won the vote. And perhaps the reason that's why they were never let to the floor for a vote.
So I hope the Judiciary Committee will let their names out and they get a fair hearing.

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