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President Bush, Roundtable

Fox News Sunday

CHRIS WALLACE, HOST: I'm Chris Wallace, reporting from the presidential retreat at Camp David. And this is "Fox News Sunday."

President Bush and a "Fox News Sunday" interview. We sit down with the commander in chief to discuss the 2008 campaign, the war on terror and what the government can do to shore up the economy -- President Bush from Camp David, a "Fox News Sunday" exclusive.

Then, Super Tuesday fallout. Can McCain unite the GOP? Who's in better shape for a bruising delegate fight, Clinton or Obama? We'll ask our Sunday regulars -- Brit Hume, Mara Liasson, Bill Kristol and Juan Williams.

And we'll look at the most dramatic week so far, "On the Trail," all right now on "Fox News Sunday."

And hello again, this week from Camp David, Maryland, the presidential retreat outside Washington and the site of some of the most historic events of recent times -- Middle East peace summits over the decades, meetings between American presidents and Soviet leaders, and councils of war following the attacks on 9/11.


WALLACE: Thank you for inviting us to Camp David.

BUSH: Sir, it's good to see you here.

WALLACE: Great to be here.


WALLACE: We met President Bush on one of the trails here at Camp David.


WALLACE: How much do you love this place?

BUSH: Well, you can see how beautiful it is. And you drove up here and you realize how remote it is. And so I love it a lot. It's a great place to come and relax.

WALLACE: Do you feel a million miles away from the White House and Washington here?

BUSH: You never feel very far away from the job because it follows you wherever you go.

WALLACE: Right, right.

BUSH: But I do feel -- I feel somewhat out of the bubble. (END VIDEO CLIP)

WALLACE: And very quickly, the talk turned to politics.


WALLACE: How closely are you following the campaign?

BUSH: Pretty close. You know, I don't spend endless hours listening to the opiners and I hadn't watched many of the debates, but I'm aware of what's happening in both parties.

WALLACE: Do you feel at all frustrated being on the sidelines?

BUSH: No, because I'm one of these fellows who doesn't wish for something that can't happen.

On the other hand, I've got a pretty good sense of what these candidates are feeling like and I'm excited for them, and I also know how tired and frustrated they can become.

WALLACE: Are you eager to get out there and campaign against the Democrats for the Republicans in the fall?

BUSH: You know, the thing about the presidential campaign -- of course, the candidate is going to be center stage. And to the extent I can help, I want to. But the focus, of course, will be on -- you know, on the next president.


WALLACE: We continued our conversation in the family theater inside Hickory Lodge at Camp David.


Mr. President, I know you're not ready to endorse yet in the presidential race, so I am going to ask you a non-endorsement question. This last week you talked to the CPAC conference and you said soon you will have a nominee who will carry a conservative banner.

Question: Is John McCain a true conservative?

PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: Absolutely. I know him well. I know his convictions. I know the principles that drive him and no doubt in my mind he is a true conservative. Now I do want to make sure that you don't rope me into getting into this primary before it ends because we have another conservative candidate in Mike Huckabee still running.

WALLACE: I understand that. I'm not asking for an endorsement. I -- but let me ask you to continue on McCain. Rush Limbaugh says that McCain's nomination would destroy the Republican Party. Ann Coulter says she would vote for Hillary Clinton because she's more of a conservative than McCain is.

What do you think of that kind of talk?

BUSH: I think that if John is the nominee, he has got some convincing to do to convince people that he is a solid conservative and I'll be glad to help him if he is the nominee ...

WALLACE: Why do you ...

BUSH: But he is a conservative. Look, he is very strong on national defense. He is tough fiscally. He believes the tax cuts ought to be permanent. He is pro-life. His principles are sound and solid as far as I'm concerned.

WALLACE: Why do you think there is -- you talk about convincing to do -- why do you think there is such personal animosity towards Senator McCain among some elements of the conservative (inaudible) ...

BUSH: Probably some personal animosity toward me. You can't please all the people all the time. But part of a campaign is for the nominee of the party to rally the party and to rally the folks that are going to end up being the base from which he operates and I had to do that. Every nominee has had to do that and whoever our nominee is going to have to do it.

It's just the process. Primaries tend to divide up the parties and there is a period of time in which the candidate who is in the process of becoming the leader of a party, must work to bring as much of the party together as possible. That's just the normal course of primary politics.

WALLACE: Let's talk about some of the issues that give conservatives heartburn with McCain and quite frankly issues where he broke with you. He was one of only two Republicans -- I don't have to remind you -- who voted against your tax cuts. The first time, he said because he said they tilted too far towards the rich.

BUSH: He is for making the tax cuts permanent.

WALLACE: And what he did in 2001 and 2003 doesn't bother you?

BUSH: No. He absolutely has said that and he's the kind of fellow who says something, he'll do it and he said, these tax cuts ought to be made permanent. See, you're trying to get me in the trap again of getting involved in this primary and it's not even over yet.

WALLACE: I'm not ...

BUSH: You're doing a fairly effective job of it, Chris. I congratulate you on that.

WALLACE: Well, let me just ask you ...

BUSH: Another question on McCain?

WALLACE: I will. He also disagreed with you on campaign finance reform. And on limits in the interrogation of terror detainees.

BUSH: Look, you can find -- in the course of any senators career a place where they may have different with the president. The question I asked myself and I hope voters ask, what are the principles by which this person will be making decisions? That's the most important thing to me.

And we have got two conservative candidates running for office, our party will soon decide who that -- who are banner carriers will be and our candidate will be certainly more conservative than the other.

WALLACE: I'm going to ask you about the choice in a moment. Let me ask you about Mike Huckabee to give equal time.

Mike Huckabee, you say, a good conservative, accused your foreign policy of displaying an arrogant bunker mentality.

BUSH: I think he has tried to walk back that position. I haven't spoke to Mike about that but again, in the course of a primary, in the course of a campaign, people are going to say things that people try to blow up into major crises. I've known Mike a long time. I was the governor of Texas. He was the governor of Arkansas.

He is a solid conservative person and the thing -- I remember Mike when he weighed a lot and I'll never forget getting off at the airplane and there he was at the foot of Air Force One and I couldn't recognize him.

And the reason I bring that up is he's disciplined. He sets a goal and he takes care of business.

I'm sure that you can find quotes from people running for office that sound like they're at odds with me. But the point -- what really matters in a campaign what are the basic beliefs. What is one's view of the role of the federal government? We believe government ought to be empowering people. We ought to trust people. The other side tends to want to empower government.

We believe taxes ought to be low. They want to raise taxes. We believe we ought to be on the offense against an enemy. That this isn't -- this War on Terror is not just a simple law enforcement matter. It requires all assets, all hands on deck to protect the American people. We believe in the transformative power of freedom. In other words, there's certain principles, and that's what I look for in these candidates.

WALLACE: So what do you say to those conservatives, those Republicans who have questions about both of these candidates? As you know, the Club for Growth, some of the anti-tax and spending groups have problems with Huckabee as well. What do you say to them when they're running their litmus tests on McCain or Huckabee.

BUSH: I say if you're seeking -- looking for perfection, you'll never find that person. I certainly wasn't a perfect candidate for a lot of folks. You're not going to find perfection.

But what you ought to look at is look at the person's heart, look at the principles. And determine what's the best course for the nation and the best course for the nation is to have our candidate become president of the United States.

WALLACE: One last question on the Republicans. Some people say that this is a generational election. An election about change. At a time when Democrats are arguing whether or not to usher out us baby boomers for someone younger, are you concerned at all about the Republicans perhaps turning to somebody who is even older than us?

BUSH: Again, I -- you're presuming that Senator McCain is going to be the nominee and should he become the nominee, one of the reasons why is because people understand this is a dangerous world and that we're going to need steady, strong leadership in the Oval Office to deal with the dangers of this world. And if Senator McCain is the nominee, he will have brought those credential to the White House. And that's going to be very important. It's going to be a very important election issue, too, Chris.

And that is, which candidate understands the complexities and dangers and who will have the best plan on dealing with it? And I confident that the nominee will be the person who is capable of assuring the American people, one, the reality, I see the reality. And secondly, I've got a plan to deal with it.

WALLACE: Let's turn to the Democrats. Some months ago you went on the record, perhaps to your regret, and said Hillary Clinton was going to be the Democratic nominee. After the events of Super Tuesday and the news that she had to loan her own campaign $5 million of her own money, are you sticking with that prediction?

BUSH: This same year, I was asked who I thought was going to win the American League and I said the Detroit Tigers. I guess I don't know who's going to win the Democratic nominee. I predicted Senator Clinton because I knew that she understands the klieg lights and understands the pressures and that (INAUDIBLE) for me, but I've never voted in a Democratic primary in my life. I'm not exactly sure I'm not the proper person to be opining about how the Democrats are going to conduct themselves from this point forward.

WALLACE: There's been a lot of talk about former President Clinton crossing the line in some of his attacks against Barack Obama. Your father certainly never did any of that against your opponents back in 2000.

BUSH: Right.

WALLACE: Do you feel that he's acted inappropriately as the former president?

BUSH: First of all, my father's wife was not running.

WALLACE: His son was.

BUSH: (INAUDIBLE) There's a bit of a difference between father and son and father and wife and secondly, I can understand why President Clinton wants to campaign hard for his wife. And yeah, those accusations that Bill Clinton's a racist I think has been wrong. I just don't agree with it.

WALLACE: You've been and I suspect you're aware something of a pinata for the Democrats during their campaign. I'm sure you've heard Senator Clinton said in the last debate it did take a Clinton to clean up after the first Bush and I think it might take another one to clean up after the second Bush.

BUSH: It's a clever sound bite. My attitude is so long as they're talking about me, we have a better chance of winning because our candidate will. What's going to matter is not the past, but the future when it comes to campaigns and if the Democrat party feels like they can win an election by focusing on me, I think they'll be making a huge tactical mistake. But I hope they do get them (ph), because our candidate will be able to talk about the future, what this person intends to do for the country.

WALLACE: Do you think there's a rush to judgment about Barack Obama. Do you think voters know enough about him?

BUSH: I certainly don't know what he believes in. The only foreign policy thing I remember he said was he's going to attack Pakistan and break the Mani Mijad (ph). I think (INAUDIBLE) that in a press conference.

WALLACE: I hope not. But so you don't think that we know enough about him or what he stands...

BUSH: It doesn't seem like it to me, but this campaign is plenty of time for candidates to get defined. He has yet (ph) his party's nominee.

WALLACE: So why do you think he's gotten this far if people don't know what he stands for?

BUSH: You're the pundit. I'm just a simple president.

WALLACE: And you've done this a little bit, let's project ahead to November, the Republican nominee whoever it ends up being is going to have to carry along and deal with a faltering economy.

BUSH: How do you know that?

WALLACE: Well it is as of this moment.

BUSH: You said November.

WALLACE: All right, you can see that we will -- it won't, but at this point, he would be weighed down by a faltering economy, an unpopular war, at least according to the polls and forgive me running (INAUDIBLE) unpopular president. How does he overcome all of that and...

BUSH: Because there's two big issues. One is, who's going to keep your taxes low? Most Americans feel overtaxed and I promise you the Democrat party is going to field a candidate who says I'm going to raise your tax.

If they're going to say, oh, we're only going to tax the rich people, but most people in America understand that the rich people hire good accountants and figure out how not to necessarily pay all the taxes and the middle class gets stuck.

We've had -- we've been through this drill before. We're only going to tax the rich and all you have to do is look at the history of that kind of language and see who gets stuck with the bill.

And the other one, this is a dangerous world and Americans understand it's dangerous. They understand we're under threat of attack and whoever our nominee is is going to have to convince them that we will take whatever measures are necessary to protect us.

WALLACE: And why should they believe after the events of the last seven years that it's the Republicans, rather than the Democrats who's the person that can...

BUSH: ... because there had been an attack and because we're on the offense. We didn't wait for international approval to make our decisions. We certainly put an alliance together, but there is some kind of an attitude that says well, you know, let's wait and hold back and hope that we'll all hold hands and head out together.

America's got to be in the lead if you want to deal with these threats and we've had a lot of friends with us. And I'm confident our candidate will say, we're going to lead to protect the American people. It's a fundamental difference. Look at the FISA debate.

We believe that our intelligence officers ought to have all the tools they need to protect the American people. And yet it's -- and I think we're going to get a good bipartisan bill and so I applaud those Democrats. I'm not going after those Democrats. But there is a big part of the Democrat Party that is against giving our intelligence officers the tools necessary to protect America.

I'm confident there's going to be plenty of issues for which we can draw distinctions and you know, all the polls and the stuff you quote, they don't matter right now about -- because the world -- no telling what the world is going to look like in November. If I listened to the polls in 2004, I'd have been in a political fetal position.

As you might recall, I wasn't do all that well in the polls, but when it came time to get out on the campaign, I said this is what I believe in and this is what this person believes in. And but then it became clear to the American people and had a clear choice to make, our philosophy won and it's going to win again.

WALLACE: Mr. President we need to take a quick break here, but when we come back, we'll talk about the economy, the war in Iraq and the war on terror. All that coming up from Camp David.


WALLACE: And we're back now inside Hickory Lodge at Camp David with President Bush. The economy continues to show signs of a slowdown. In January, we lost jobs for the first time in more than four years. An index of activity in the service sector has dropped to its lowest level in six years. Mr. President, what are the chances that we're either in a recession or headed toward one?

BUSH: I think the experts would tell you we are not in recession. And they would tell you that there is a lot of uncertainty. And therefore the question is, what do you do about it? And I worked with Congress, members of both parties, to pass a robust pro-growth package.

And it was -- you know, it was a sign that we can work together. I applaud the speaker and the leader. And of course, our folks, Senator McConnell and Leader Boehner, for their attitude, their ability -- willingness to address a problem in a way that was constructive.

And so I will be signing this bill Wednesday that -- and the whole purpose of the bill is to get money in the hands of consumers and to provide incentives for businesses to invest. And the reason why is, is that, you know, obviously the housing market is creating deep concern. And one of the real problems could be that if people, as a result of their -- value of their homes going down, kind of pull in their horns.

It is what they call the "wealth effect." And that could cause further deepening of economic woes, and so that it is an insurance policy. You know, I will let the economic forecasters tell you, you know, but -- about whether or not what is going to happen over the next couple of months.

But I will tell you that the signs are troubling enough that we all came together and got a robust package out. And I think these checks will be in people's hands by May.

WALLACE: I want to ask you about your determination on this issue. The stock market has continued to drop, despite what the Fed has done, despite the apparent and now final passage of the stimulus package. If the stock market drops, if consumer activity doesn't pick up, are you prepared to offer more short-term stimulus to the economy?

BUSH: You know, we just have to play by ear, Chris. I mean, obviously I do want to work with members of Congress. What I don't want to do, however, is to overreact and leave behind regulations that would hurt future economic growth.

And one of the dangers of Congress and working on these issues is, is that they leave behind permanent, permanent problems. So in other words, if the economy becomes less flexible or capital markets become more constrained.

And so we have got to be very careful about the prescriptions in trying to help this economy, you know, stay on track. That is why I was so supportive of this current package because it is a temporary -- it is a one-time cash infusion and one-time incentive for businesses to invest.

WALLACE: In Iraq, you have announced a plan, "Return on Success," to draw down the number of U.S. troops to 15 brigades by this summer, which would basically bring us down to pre-surge levels. The question is, what happens then?

Some in the Pentagon are saying that they would like to see it drop to 10 brigades, 100,000 troops by the end of the year. General Petraeus reportedly would like to see a pause this summer to assess whether or not he is able to maintain the same security with fewer troops.

Where do you come down on that?

BUSH: You know, I met with General Petraeus when I was in Kuwait on my trip to the Middle East. And my message to the general was, success is paramount. And therefore, whatever you recommend, make it based upon the need to succeed.

And so it was, what is "succeed?" What does succeed mean? It means there is enough security and stability for this reconciliation to continue to take place, and for democracy to take hold.

And so to answer your question, I'm not sure what his recommendation will be, nor am I sure what the recommendation will be out of the Pentagon. But there will be a -- you know, a group of people who are -- David and his commanders, the Pentagon, others, will be coming forth with recommendations on how to proceed.

They may be all the same, they may not be all the same. But I will listen, give them careful consideration and make up my mind. But it is going to based upon whether or not we can succeed or not.

WALLACE: You are also in the process of negotiating a long-term relationship with Iraq. And critics have asked a series of questions, which I would like to ask you. One, will you commit the U.S. to defend Iraq? Two, are you going to seek permanent based in Iraq?

And how do you respond to Hillary Clinton who says you are trying bind -- to tie the hands of future presidents to your failed strategy?

BUSH: First of all, we have had status of forces agreements with a lot of countries, including Afghanistan during my presidency. And people ought to look at those types of arrangements to determine what I'm talking about.

Secondly, we will be there at the invitation of the Iraqi government. Thirdly, any president can make the decisions of how many troops we need there. I mean, I could have increased troops or decreased troops in Korea, and we had a long-term security agreement.

And we won't have permanent bases. I do believe it is in our interests, and the interests of the Iraqi people that we do enter into an agreement on how we are going to conduct ourselves over the next years.

But remember, we are there at the invitation of a sovereign government, elected under a modern constitution. And so I -- some of these arguments, I view, are -- they just need to be -- the people making these arguments need to think through exactly what they are saying.

WALLACE: And what about the idea of having to bring a treaty to the Senate?

BUSH: Well, you know, we work with the Senate and the House on that, but we didn't bring a treaty to the Senate for Afghanistan.

WALLACE: There seem to be some mixed signals from your administration about the interrogation of terror detainees. And I hope you would clear it up for us. The CIA, with your approval, confirmed this week that you -- the CIA, conducted waterboarding on three Al Qaeda prisoners back in 2002 and 2003.

And a White House spokesman said that you can still approve that practice depending circumstances. On the other hand, CIA Director Hayden said this week that he is not sure whether or not it is legal anymore to conduct waterboarding.

So, to set the record straight, do you think it is legal and are you prepared to authorize it if you believe it is necessary to protect the nation?

BUSH: First of all, whatever we have done was legal, and whatever decision I will make will be reviewed by the Justice Department to determine whether or not the legality is there. And the reason why there is a difference between what happened in the past and today, there is a new law.

And so to answer your question, whatever we will do would be legal. The American people have got to know that what we did in the past gained information that prevented an attack. And for those who criticize what we did in the past, I ask them, which attack would they rather have not permitted -- stopped?.

Which attack on America did they -- would they have said, well, you know, maybe it wasn't all that important that we stop those attacks. And I will do what is necessary to protect American within the law. That is what you have got to understand.

WALLACE: I want to follow up on that. Whether it is interrogation of terror prisoners or the intercepting of surveillance among al Qaeda members, are you ever puzzled by all of the concern in this country about protecting of rights of people who want to kill us?

BUSH: That is an interesting way to put it. I wouldn't necessarily define some of the critics of my policy that way. I would say that they want to be very careful that we don't overstep our bounds from protecting the civil liberties of Americans.

And I understand that, a lot. I do think that some of the programs we have put in place on the -- like listening to people calling into America, that some of the claims about what we are doing have been exaggerated. And I don't think we ought to extend the same protections to terrorists overseas who want to kill us that we provide our own citizens when it comes to surveillance matters.

It's been a difficult issue for me because I am -- listen, I no more want to trample the civil liberties of the American people than anybody else does. On the other hand, I understand the nature of these people. And I understand the complexities of trying to protect the American people and I think we found a fine balance. I truly do.

WALLACE: One last area I want to get in with you in this section and that's Iran. Where the conventional wisdom is that following the National Intelligence Estimate, that Iran gave up its nuclear weapons program back in 2003, that you've lost all your leverage to get more economic sanctions or to threaten the use of force against Iran.

Here is what John Bolton, your former ambassador to the UN said recently. "It's clear that now President George Bush can't do anything on this matter before the end of his term in another year. If John Bolton says you're powerless, how are going to be able to persuade or to pressure the mullahs to give up their uranium enrichment program?

BUSH: In my trip to the Middle East I made it abundantly clear to nervous nations that Iran is a threat. And that's what the NIE said if you read it carefully.

I'm sure they had a weapons program, secret military weapons program but that doesn't mean they can't have another secret weapons military program and the key to have a weapons program is the ability to enrich uranium. Now they will say we are just doing this for civilian purposes but the knowledge is transferable.

I think I made some pretty good headway in the Middle East, making it clear that regardless of the impression of the NIE, Iran is a threat. Condi just came back from Europe briefing me on the progress they are making on getting another UN Security Council resolution out. So, yeah, the NIE sends mixed signals.

I feel pretty good about making sure that we keep the pressure on Iran. To pressure them so that they understand they're isolated. To pressure them to affect their economy. To pressure them to the point where we hope somebody rational shows up and says, OK, it's not worth it anymore.

And there are some indications we're making progress. The economy isn't doing as well as Ahmadinejad promised it would and at the same time I continue to speak to the Iranian people which I will do again right now.

We have no problems with their history, their tradition. We respect you as a people but it's your government that has made the decisions that are causing you the economic pain that you're now having inside your country.

WALLACE: Mr. President, we have to take one final time out, but when we come back, we'll take a look back at President Bush's seven years in office and what comes next, back in a moment.


WALLACE: And we're back now at the presidential compound at Camp David with President Bush.

Mr. President, as your time in office winds down, you're getting some harsh assessments, even from some loyal Republicans. I'd like to read you one if I might.

Reagan speechwriter Peggy Noonan wrote, "George W. Bush destroyed the Republican Party, by which I mean he sundered it, broke its constituent pieces apart and set them against each other. He did this on spending, the size of government, war, the ability to prosecute war, immigration and other issues."

How do you respond?

BUSH: I respectfully disagree with my friend Peggy Noonan.

History will be the judge of an administration and I -- when you make tough decisions like I have had to make, you obviously ruffle some feathers and I can understand why people would disagree with some of the decisions I made.

On the other hand, when you really think about it, we haven't had an attack on America. We have inherited a recession and had 52 months of uninterrupted job growth which is a record.

Wages up, productivity up. Look, I feel good about my record. But look, it's impossible for short term historians to objectively analyze it. I know that.

WALLACE: Let me ...

BUSH: I saw in CPAC the other day something interesting. That I read three books on Washington in the last couple years and they're still analyzing the first guy. What do I have to worry about?

It's going to take a long time to figure it out and so this is all -- I could give you a whole, I could give you reams of books about criticisms of my administration. I understand this. It comes with the territory.

WALLACE: Let me ask you about one specific area, following up.

And the idea is that the principles you advanced were in at least some cases undermined by the way they were executed.

Cory Shockey (ph), who was a professor at West Point and served on your National Security Council, wrote this. "I fear that the biggest foreign policy legacy of the Bush administration will be that it delegitimized its own strategy. Whether you're talking about the democratization agenda, or the idea of preventive war and regime change. He says that, in other words, after Iraq, that the country would not permit another preventive war even if we should have one.

BUSH: Well, I don't know whether this person -- sorry, I don't know who that person is. She may have worked for me but I don't think she ever worked in the Oval Office.

Secondly, I don't know where she was on the Iraq decision to remove Saddam Hussein but I strongly believe it's the right decision. It was the right decision then and it's the right decision today to have removed Saddam Hussein.

And secondly I believe the Iraq democracy is going to take hold and -- it's very hard to write the future history of America before the current history hasn't been fully written.

WALLACE: You and I are members of very different levels of a special fraternity ...

BUSH: Yes.

WALLACE: Which is the children of famous fathers and the difference is that everyone psychoanalyzes you. They don't psychoanalyze me.

BUSH: I wouldn't go that far. How do you know ...

WALLACE: Well, do you sit around the Oval Office wondering about Chris Wallace? OK.

Well, but I wonder what you make of all the talk and you've read it, you've heard it, that you're either trying to pass your father or you're trying to copy him, that you went into Iraq to finish the job because he didn't or that you organized your first term to try to win the reelection, he didn't.

What do you -- set the record straight on that.

BUSH: It's shallow. Shallow psychobabble. You asked me what I think. It's ...

WALLACE: Well ...

BUSH: A bunch of people obviously got too much time on their hands.

WALLACE: I think it is fair to say, and maybe I'm only projecting my own experience though, that when you have a famous father, you do work and feel the need to carve out your own identity.

BUSH: Yes, I mean, I used to stay in Texas. You know, I had my mother's -- I had my daddy's eyes and my mother's mouth. I mean, you know, I'm product of two parents, not one. I am who I am.

I will tell you, I wouldn't be sitting here, however, as president, without the unconditional love of my father. You know, when you put yourself out there in the political arena, it -- there is a certain amount of risk that goes with it.

A lot of flattery and a lot of criticism, a lot of ridicule, and you know, one could shy away from that risk. But I'm not a risk-adverse person and the reason and the reason why I'm not risk-adverse is because he gave me the great gift of all gifts, which is unconditional love.

As far as all of the rest of the stuff, Chris, I -- you know, you have got to understand, you may read it, you may study it, I don't. I make decisions on what I think is right for the United States based upon principles. I frankly don't give a damn about the polls. And I darn sure don't, you know, call a group of people together in a focus group and say, well, tell me what to think.

This world is too complex, the decisions are too important to be trying to, you know, chase your -- chase popularity. And as far as history goes and all of these quotes about people trying to guess what the history of the Bush administration is going to be, you know, I take great comfort in knowing that they don't know what they are talking about, because history takes a long time for us to reach.

And there is no such thing as short-term history. There just isn't -- objective history. I don't know how many books that have written about my administration, probably more than any other president, which actually says I'm doing something.

But you know, they -- to assume that historians can figure out the effect of the Bush administration before the Bush administration has ended is just -- in my mind, it is not an accurate reflection upon how history works.

WALLACE: Presidents sometimes leave a note for their successor in the desk in the Oval Office on Inauguration Day. If you had to write yours now, for your successor, what would you say?

BUSH: "Dear Republican President..."


WALLACE: "Dear John McCain..."


BUSH: Yes. I would say that occupying the White House is a huge honor. Savor every minute. Stay focused on your beliefs. Rely upon a higher power to help you through the day.

WALLACE: And that will get you through it?

BUSH: That gets you through.

WALLACE: Mr. President, it is an honor to talk to you, sir.

BUSH: Thank you, sir.

WALLACE: Thank you so much.

BUSH: You bet.

WALLACE: And we'll be back with our panel and a look at the events of the presidential campaign in the wake of Super Tuesday right after this message.



WALLACE: On this day in 1962, American spy pilot Francis Powers was released by the Soviets in exchange for a Russian agent. Powers was captured in 1960 when his U-2 spy plane was shot down on a secret flight.

Stay tuned for more panel and "On the Trail."



SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, R-ARIZ.: (Inaudible) will, in my opinion, take this country backwards.



H. CLINTON: He offers more of the same, more of the same economic policies, more of the same military policies in Iraq.


WALLACE: Senators McCain and Clinton previewing what the debate in the general election this fall may sound like.

And it's time now for our Sunday regulars -- Brit Hume, Washington managing editor of Fox News, and Fox News contributors Mara Liasson of National Public Radio, Bill Kristol of The Weekly Standard, and Juan Williams, also from National Public Radio.

Well, let's look at the results from last night and yesterday in the Democratic race, and here they are. Obama wins in Louisiana by a wide margin. Obama wins in Nebraska by more than 2-1. And Obama also wins big in Washington State.

And as of this morning, our latest count gives Clinton a 25 -- believe it or not -- 25-delegate lead out of more than 2,000 who have been chosen so far.

So, Brit, given all of that, where does this race stand now? And do you see either of these guys, Clinton or Obama, with any kind of an edge?

HUME: I think the short-term immediate outlook is that Obama will gain on her further because the next round of primaries, the so- called Chesapeake primaries, are right in this area, and Obama figures to do very well in those...

WALLACE: That's Maryland, Virginia and D.C.

HUME: Virginia and D.C.


HUME: He figures to do well those -- well enough in those that he may well overtake her by that time.

And then the next one up from that -- the big one is Wisconsin, which looks like a good state for Obama as well. So he may soon be in the lead, even if you count the super delegates, where she has, you know, enjoyed a lead.

And the super delegates, bear in mind, are free to change their allegiance if they choose to do so. So I think at the moment, it's clearly advantage, Obama.

LIASSON: Yes, I think that the Clinton people are fully prepared to come out of the next round behind. I don't think it's just lowering expectations. I think he is in a very good position to overtake her.

I think in the end, though, even after Ohio and Texas and Pennsylvania, which are the three big firewalls that she's counting on -- huge states that have a lot of her kind of Democratic regulars -- and then in Texas, a lot of Hispanic voters -- that's her coalition -- the Clinton people expect that this is going to come down to super delegates, which is an amazing scenario, that it's going to be potentially unelected officials -- now, obviously, there are members of Congress and governors and senators who are part of the super delegate pool.

Often, they just vote with the way their state or district went. But there are a lot of unelected super delegates who aren't accountable to any voters, and this nomination might come down to that.

WALLACE: And they're all unpledged.

LIASSON: Not all of them. Some of them are pledged. But as Brit said, they can still change their mind. Look. Harold Ickes, one of her top operatives, is a super delegate. So is Terry McAuliffe. I mean, these are big...

WALLACE: And so is Bill Clinton.

LIASSON: So is Bill Clinton, yes.

WALLACE: I think we know how he's going to go, but let me -- I think we know how he's going to go, although, you know, he could shift depending on how this race goes.

Before we get to the super delegates and the possible mess there, do you agree with the calendar that the rest of February looks pretty good for Obama, but March, with Ohio and Texas, Bill, and then -- I can't believe we're talking about it -- Pennsylvania on April 22nd -- that those all probably trend a little bit towards Clinton?

KRISTOL: Well, they do right now, but they're further off than the elections on Tuesday, and that's a huge advantage for Obama.

I think Brit made a very important point. It is likely on Tuesday night that Obama will be head in delegates, even including the super delegates who have said they're for Clinton and those who have said they're for Obama.

She has about a 100-delegate lead so far among the super delegates. He's already ahead in actually elected delegates. He's ahead, I believe, now in the popular vote that's been cast if you just add up all the states and caucuses, exclude Michigan and Florida, which were taken off the table by the Democratic National Committee.

I think he'll have real momentum going into March. And I think it could be a big moment Tuesday night. I think when people look up and see Obama actually in the lead for the first time -- he's never been in the lead, because the super delegates have always given Clinton that cushion.

When people look up on Tuesday night and see Obama in the lead in elected delegates and in popular vote, I think we may see polls switching in Texas and Ohio, and Obama's campaign will have a ton of money to go up on the air in Texas and Ohio and persuade those working-class white voters and Hispanic voters that they might want to reconsider being a little friendlier to Obama.

WALLACE: Juan, let's talk about the bigger picture here, because this is obviously going to be very close for a long time, and some top Democrats are now getting worried about a mess or a train wreck, as some of them are calling it.

You're going to have super delegates who are unpledged who might vote against the democratically expressed will of their states.

You've got, as Bill mentioned, Michigan and Florida, which were stripped of any delegates because they moved up ahead of Super Tuesday. Now the question is who's going to be representing them. Are they going to have to vote again? Is there the potential here, if this race stays very close and ends up going into May, June, August with the convention, of a real train wreck for the Democratic Party?

WILLIAMS: Well, I guess there's a possibility, but Howard Dean, the chairman of the party, said this week the party can't afford it and that he would intervene at some point and, you know, literally create some sort of settlement, I guess by going to the super delegates and working with the candidates, and I guess...

WALLACE: Well, how does he do that?

WILLIAMS: Well, I don't know. I mean, but there's the possibility, I guess, of a ticket or some kind of accommodation down the way.

But the problem, I think, is that what you're looking at right now is that among the Democrats, especially -- the way that it's breaking out racially leads to the kind of civil war that everybody wants to avoid.

If you look at the results yesterday from Louisiana, Barack Obama did better than 80 percent of the black vote. It's about 40 -- half of the voters were black in the Democratic primary yesterday in Louisiana. He gets 80 percent. Mrs. Clinton gets about half, a little bit more than half, of the white voters.

So what you're seeing here is that black and white are splitting in a way that I think is untenable if you want to hold together the coalition going forward. Obviously, the field favors Democrats, but it's very difficult.

And in the super delegates, I think that my friend here, Bill Kristol -- I think you're being very supportive of Mr. Obama. We all appreciate it. But I think you have an agenda, which is that I think you guys think that it's easier to beat Barack Obama going forward.

And I think that, you know, one of the discussions that took place this week is Obama saying to -- when Mitt Romney went on about his silliness about you can't -- you've got to get out of the race in order to allow the Republicans to come together and fight the war on terror -- Obama said, you know, you're just -- the same old rhetoric of fear and division.

WALLACE: All right. All right. Let's turn to the Republicans.

And I'm going to give you a chance to respond to that and everything else you want to say, Bill, in a moment.

But let's turn to the Republicans and the race on that side yesterday. In Louisiana, Huckabee edges out McCain. In Kansas, a much bigger win for Huckabee over McCain. But in Washington State, a narrow victory for McCain.

As for the delegate race in the GOP, McCain still has -- still enjoys a big lead over Mike Huckabee. So, Brit, President Bush in our interview seemed to indicate he thinks it's going to be pretty straightforward that McCain has a job to do, but pretty straightforward for him to win over the conservatives.

Given those victories, two out of three victories for Huckabee after McCain was the presumptive nominee, does he have more work to do than the president may think?

HUME: Well, he's going to have to keep campaigning. The mathematical odds against Huckabee are very long, but McCain will still have to eventually beat him. Huckabee shows no signs of getting out. It won't be a contentious affair. They both promised that, and Huckabee probably promised it first.

I would say this about that, though, in terms of the activists in the Republican Party on the right who are disturbed about John McCain. They now want him to dance to their tune, and do it again and again, and really prove to them that he's OK.

The truth is if they'd like to see him elected and not see the Democrat elected, they ought to let John McCain do whatever he needs to do. In other words, they should not force him into a fight to solidify his base.

They ought to let him have leeway now to move to the center, an area where he has some credibility, which would give him a better chance of winning the election. I don't think they will, but that's what they ought to do.

LIASSON: I don't think that they can do that first scenario that Brit just outlined. They would have to coalesce around another candidate. They were too late to come to Romney. They certainly aren't doing it around Huckabee, because he's anathema to them, too.

So I don't think that other than kind of talking a lot on talk radio that they have any point of pressure for McCain.

WALLACE: But what does it say -- and maybe we're reading too much into it, Mara -- the fact that after this week, when everybody -- at least we're all saying McCain's the nominee, that he loses two out of three races yesterday.

LIASSON: First of all, I think that Huckabee has done very well in the south. Louisiana is his kind of state. Kansas has a lot of evangelicals. I think Huckabee has a kind of real niche of the party where he does really well.

When you look forward, how is he going to make up that gap? He's about three times -- McCain has about three times as many delegates as him. I don't see him as the kind of opponent or threat to McCain that even Mitt Romney was.

WALLACE: I guess I'm not talking, Bill, so much about whether or not Huckabee can beat McCain, but does it show some weakness on the part of McCain? KRISTOL: Yes, a little bit, though it's pretty common when people wrap up a race. Clinton did this, and then Jerry Brown won a primary or two. Dukakis did this, and I think Al Gore won a primary. Jesse Jackson won a primary or two.

I wouldn't read too much into it. I think McCain is pretty well situated now. He's got an opponent who's going to be very polite to him. And they'll be able to keep on campaigning, which is good for McCain, incidentally.

He'll now win some primaries in Virginia and Maryland on Tuesday, I think, and I think he's in pretty good shape.

WILLIAMS: Well, the Democrats, I must say, are looking forward to running against McCain and saying, "Listen, McCain is just a third term for President Bush. Do you really want a third term? Do you want an extension of the war in Iraq? Do you want someone who knows nothing about the economy and says that he knows nothing about the economy, that he went out and bought Alan Greenspan's book to learn something about the economy?"

I think you can start to see the shape of this. And Obama says, you know, he'll represent change. It's a 46-year-old versus a 71- year-old. And Clinton says she's the one who's going to really bring the country together even compared to McCain, and she's going to claim that swing vote.

I think the Democrats are actually, you know, thinking, "Well, let the right wing attack John McCain right now." There's no way that John McCain gets back to the center while he's trying to please Brit Hume and the right wing

HUME: Juan, I don't know if you -- didn't you hear what I just said?

WILLIAMS: I did. I agree with you.


LIASSON: But you know, the...

HUME: Here's another point about that. First of all, John McCain is not the favored nominee of the Republican Party for the Democrats. They all wanted to run against Mitt Romney.

Second point. Barack Obama is not the favored nominee among the Democrats for the Republicans. They all want to run against Hillary Clinton.

WILLIAMS: That's why I said Bill Kristol was speaking so kindly of Barack Obama.

KRISTOL: It's the opposite.

LIASSON: That's the opposite. He should be speaking kindly about Hillary. KRISTOL: There's a lot of data. The polls are very easy and clear on this. John McCain is the strongest Republican nominee. Barack Obama is the strongest Democratic nominee.

WILLIAMS: Where did you get that data from? They both run about equal -- Clinton and Obama both run about equal against John McCain.

KRISTOL: That's not true. Obama consistently runs three, four, five points ahead.

You find me one intelligent and thoughtful Republican -- and I would even say one intelligent, thoughtful uncommitted Democratic -- who thinks Hillary Clinton is a better candidate than Barack Obama.

WALLACE: Well, I thought he was just going to say find me one thoughtful and intelligent Republican, a question to be answered later. Thank you all. Thank you, panel. See you next week.

For more visit the FOX News Sunday web page.

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