Bush glad Cheney not running for president
WASHINGTON - President Bush said Monday he sure is glad Vice President Dick Cheney is not going to be campaigning to replace him.
It was no knock against Cheney's leadership skills, Bush said, but a practical consideration about making his last years in office run smoothly. Having the No. 2 angling to be No. 1 "certainly changes the dynamics inside the White House," the president said.
"I'm not through yet, you know," Bush said to a questioner who asked whom he would support in the 2008 race. Bush said he still wanted to reduce dependence on oil from the Middle East, get a bipartisan solution to the problem of funding Social Security and Medicare and create a legal status for immigrants who want to work in the United States.
"I am going to spend two-and-a-half years charging as hard as I possibly can," Bush said. "I want to sprint out of office. And I will be an interested observer, and I'm sure I'll be roped into moments after our party nominates a candidate, but I'm just going to let the politics run its course."
Bush said the race will be "an amazing moment" with wide open primaries in both major parties and no sitting vice president or president in the race.
"I guess it's the most wide-open race ever," Bush said, then corrected himself. "Oh, it can't be ever. Ever is too long. But in a long time."
Bush got stumped a couple of times by some brainy graduate students and said he'd have to ask members of his Cabinet for help answering their questions.
"Help," Bush said when asked what law governs private military contractors in Iraq. The question came from a first-year student in South Asia studies at Johns Hopkins University's Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies, where Bush was speaking. The student said she had already asked Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld about it.
"I was going to ask him," Bush said, drawing chuckles from the students.
"I wasn't kidding," Bush said when the student responded that she hoped Bush would be more specific. "I was going to pick up the phone and say, `Mr. Secretary, I've got an interesting question.' ... That's how I work."
Later, Bush said he'd have to get help from Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to answer a woman's question about whether he would consider changing his administration's stance against working with organizations that partner with prostitution networks to stop human trafficking.
"You know more about this subject than I," the president said. "And I will be glad to call Condi and talk to her about our policy."
Another questioner said the Muslim prophet Muhammad established the first known constitution in the world for the city of Medina in present-day Saudi Arabia. But someone else rose to say the first constitution actually was written by the Babylonian king Hammurabi in modern-day Iraq.
"I was going to say that, you know," Bush said to laughter from the crowd.
Bush said he's a good listener. But he showed he's a talker, too.
"You got to listen in my line of work, and I listen a lot," Bush said when asked his advice for being a good leader.
Bush continued with a lengthy explanation of his leadership philosophy, which included advice not to use force until diplomacy is exhausted, to give government support whenever putting people in harm's way, not to make decisions based on polls, to stand firm when making a decision, to be ready for the unexpected, to base decisions on principles and to realize that freedom is a universal right of all men and women.
"Anyway, kind of rambling here," Bush said when he finally cut himself off.
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