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America's New War: Bush Administration Gears Up For War

Aired September 17, 2001 - 04:10   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR: Well, as it maps out its response to last week's attack, the White House remains mindful of public reaction.

Kelly Wallace now reports President Bush and his team of advisors face the sensitive task of reassuring the country while preparing for possible war.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KELLY WALLACE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: After huddling with his national security team at Camp David, President Bush returned to the White House with the First Lady and urged Americans to try to get on with their lives.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Tomorrow the good people of America go back to their shops, their fields, American factories, and go back to work. Our nation was horrified, but it's not going to be terrorized.

WALLACE: Mr. Bush, in a 15-minute session with reporters, showing so many different faces -- disbelief that hijackers could crash into buildings filled with innocent people, anger when asked about suspected terrorist Osama bin Laden's claim he was not involved, and determination to win the war.

BUSH: They have roused a mighty giant, and make no mistake about it -- we're determined.

WALLACE: The President's words part of a full-court administration offensive to reassure a jittery public.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're pursuing over 40,000 leads.

COLIN POWELL, SECRETARY OF STATE: They can't destroy America.

DICK CHANEY, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Things have changed since last Tuesday. The world shifted in some respects.

WALLACE: The administration facing a delicate balancing act, encouraging an anxious country to go back to work while making the case its campaign against terrorists and those who harbor them will not be an overnight solution. DONALD RUMSFELD, SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: And it will take time. It's not a matter of days or weeks -- it's years. It -- it's going to take the support of the American people, and I have every confidence it'll be there.

WALLACE: The support is there now. In a CNN-"USA Today" Gallup poll, 86 percent said they'd back a military action even if it lasts several months. Support does drop, though, to 66 percent if a conflict lasts several years.

For a public angry about how these tragedies could have happened, Attorney General John Ashcroft says he will send proposals to Capitol Hill in days to strengthen laws targeting terrorists.

ATTORNEY GENERAL JOHN ASHCROFT: We will develop the tools...

WALLACE: While Secretary of State Colin Powell called for a return to normalcy.

POWELL: If we stick in our bunkers and walk around afraid, they will have won. Well, we're not a fearful people. We know how to overcome tragedy.

WALLACE: To underscore that point, on Monday Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neil rings the opening bell at the New York Stock Exchange and major league players return to the ball fields while the administration continues planning its response to the worst act of terrorism on U.S. soil.

Kelly Wallace, CNN, the White House.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

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