Wed, Jan 19, 2005 - Page 7 News List

Bush has `big agenda' for second term

SEEKING UNITY The US president says that he wants to achieve big things, not least among them overcoming the rancor his first term caused with his controversial policies

AP , WASHINGTON

US President George W. Bush said he has "a big agenda in mind" for his second term that begins this week and that four years is going to be a short time to meet all his goals.

"We got to get moving and get some things done before -- before people kind of write me off," Bush told CBS News in an interview Monday.

He said he hopes that with his final election behind him, Republicans and Democrats in Congress will work together to pass his legislation. Unity will be the most important theme of his inaugural address on Thursday, he said as he taped separate interviews with the CBS, ABC and NBC television networks.

"I have a responsibility to try to unite this country to achieve big things for all Americans," Bush told ABC News. "I will say that in my inaugural address. I'm looking forward to the challenge."

He said he'll announce his "big agenda" at the State of the Union address in two weeks, but it will reflect his campaign promises. Those include overhauling Social Security and the legal liability system; improving the tax code, school standards and the budget process; and making healthcare accessible to more Americans.

Before the State of the Union, Iraqis will hold the first elections for their new government. Although turnout is not expected to be high as voters face violence at the polls, Bush said the election itself is a success.

"Having the vote is a victory for those of us who love freedom," Bush told NBC Nightly News.

Besides Bush's swearing in on Thursday, the inaugural week festivities include a salute to the US military and several lavish balls. Bush said he doesn't think all the pomp is excessive despite the war and last month's devastating tsunami.

Bush said it's important to celebrate a "peaceful transfer of power" and that he suspects inauguration guests have been generous in donating to tsunami victims.

"You can be equally concerned about our troops in Iraq and those who suffered at the tsunamis with celebrating democracy," he told CBS.

The president opened his inaugural week Monday with a salute to outgoing Secretary of State Colin Powell and the late Martin Luther King Jr. on the official observance of the slain civil rights leader's birthday.

Bush presented Powell and his wife, Alma, with the John Thompson Legacy of a Dream Award during an afternoon ceremony at the Kennedy Center, calling Powell "one of the most effective and admired diplomats in America's history."

"More than four years ago when I needed a secretary of state, I knew what I was looking for," the president said. "I wanted someone who believed deeply in the values of our country and could share them with the world, a person of wisdom and decency, a leader who could bring out the best in people. I found all this and more in Colin Powell."

Powell was often seen as out of step ideologically with other senior officials in Bush's administration but has remained the most popular administration official in poll after poll. He announced his resignation after Bush was re-elected and the president nominated national security adviser Condoleezza Rice to take his place.

The award given to the Powells is named after the former head coach of the Georgetown University men's basketball team and is presented each year to a leader who represents King's ideals and commitment to community service.

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