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Bush Interview

Following Following is the White House transcript of one question from The Washington Post's interview with President Bush, conducted Friday aboard Air Force One en route to Jacksonville, Fla.

George W. says there have been some amazing statistics during his time as president. Since he seems singularly incapable of irony, this must be regarded as quite an understatement.

The Post: Nearly 90 percent of African Americans voted against you in the past election.


The Post: Nearly 90 percent, and that was an improvement over 2000. You got 11 percent of the black vote in the exit polls I saw. What could you have done to change that, first of all? And, secondly, how do you plan to win those people over to your policies in your second term?

THE PRESIDENT: Listen, I am -- when we worked on the No Child Left Behind law, part of what motivated me on that law, and part of what motivated me as governor to insist upon accountability is I fully understand that oftentimes it was the inner-city black child who just got moved through, and the system just quit on him or her. When we worked to get the reading programs in place, reading programs based upon what actually works, not what might sound good, I kept in mind my -- the one time -- I remember the time when an African American stood up and said, reading is the new civil right. And there's no doubt in my mind that No Child Left Behind Act, when fully implemented, and if not weakened -- and it won't be weakened when I'm the president -- will end up helping young black kids realize their dreams.

And, you know, the answer to your question is, people will see the results of this law, and some point in time realize that George W. Bush cared deeply about failure and mediocrity and did something about it. I did my best to reach out, and I will continue to do so as the president. It's important for people to know that I'm the president of everybody, and that I don't sit down in the White House and say, these people voted for me, therefore I'm going to focus policy this way.

There's been some amazing statistics during my time as president. More minorities own homes than ever before, which is -- I'll continue to promote an ownership society. I believe the more somebody owns something, the more likely it is that they'll be independent from government and have a prosperous life. The Social Security issue is an interesting issue when it comes to African Americans. After all, the life expectancy of African American males is a lot less than other groups and, therefore, if you really think about that, you have people putting money in the system that aren't -- families won't benefit from the system. And, therefore, it seems to me to make sense, if I were a part of a group of people that were being disadvantaged by the Social Security system, that I'd at least like to have the opportunity to have some of the money I put in the system passable to my family.

And so my point to you is, the policies that we have put forth in this administration are, I think, beneficial to all. And as to why that message hasn't made it through, I don't know, I'm not a pundit. Ask pros like [Post staff writer Jim] VandeHei, who follows all this stuff.

— Michael A. Fletcher and Jim VandeHei
Washington Post


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