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Washington, 4 November 2004 (RFE/RL) -- Two days after he was reelected to a second four-year term, U.S. President George W. Bush said today that he believes he has a mandate to move ahead with his agenda.
Bush said he believes his reelection vindicated his policies, and declared that he will move more boldly in his second term to achieve his goals.
Those initiatives include his intention to help Iraq make the transition to democracy, to continue pursuing peace between the Palestinians and the Israelis, and various domestic goals, including reform of the U.S. tax code and the public pension fund known as Social Security.
At a news conference at a government building next to the White House Bush said that he "earned capital in the campaign, political capital, and now I intend to spend it."
He noted that even though he won a majority of so-called "electoral votes" in the 2000 election, he got about 500,000 fewer popular votes than his rival, Al Gore. But this year, he won in both categories -- defeating Senator John Kerry (Democrat-Massachusetts) by more than 3.5 million popular votes.
But Bush stressed -- as he did in his campaign victory speech on 3 November -- that he does not intend to act unilaterally, but will reach out to his political opponents in an effort to get bipartisan support.
"I believe there will be good will, now that this election is over, to work together. I found that to be the case when I first arrived here in Washington, and working with the Democrats and fellow Republicans we got a lot done," Bush said.
Similarly, Bush said he will press ahead with his Iraq policy, with a focus on the elections scheduled for January 2005.
The president was asked if his foreign policy -- particularly his Iraq policy -- had given America a bad reputation in the world. Bush replied that his decision to go to war in Iraq was difficult and he understands that it is not welcomed everywhere.
"Every civilized country also has a stake in the outcome of this war. Whatever our past disagreements, we share a common enemy and we have common duties -- to protect our peoples, to confront disease and hunger and poverty in troubled regions of the world," Bush said.
On domestic issues, Bush said he wants to further revise the U.S. tax code, even though he already has implemented three cuts in the federal tax rate. He also said he will move forward to reform Social Security. He has previously said he wants to give workers the opportunity to take at least some of the money that normally would go to Social Security and put it into private retirement accounts instead.
Bush also said he has no immediate plans to make any changes in his cabinet. There are reports of the imminent departures of Secretary of State Colin Powell, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, and Attorney General John Ashcroft. And some reports say national security adviser Condoleezza Rice may become the next defense chief.
Bush also was asked what kind of nominee he would choose for expected vacancies on the Supreme Court, which could have a profound effect on the direction of the country for decades. Bush replied that he will respond when a vacancy occurs. Chief Justice William Rehnquist, who is 80 years old, recently disclosed that he has thyroid cancer, and three other aging justices also have had the disease.