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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL

President Bush Holds First Prime-Time Press Conference

Aired October 11, 2001 - 19:45   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.
AARON BROWN, CNN ANCHOR: Well, good evening again. I'm Aaron Brown.

In just a few moments, at 8:00 Eastern time, President George W. Bush will walk into the East Room of the White House to meet with reporters and speak to the country and the world. This press conference is the first presidential press conference in prime time since April of 1995 and of course, it comes a month to the day since the country was attacked in Washington at the Pentagon and in New York at the World Trade Center. A month ago, on that night, the president promised that the United States would take the battle to the terrorists and the country has done that. In the last week, there were relentless air attacks on the Taliban, on the Al Qaeda network in Afghanistan that go on still.

We anticipate the president will make some sort of statement at the beginning of the news conference, updating the war effort and then face a range of questions, from military strategy, to economic recovery. And while the Congress is united in its support on the military side, there does seem to be considerable division on how best to aid the economy now, how best to provide aviation safety, what laws are needed to combat terrorism. These discussions are partisan in some sense but they lack the bitterness partisanship that has gone on in Washington for the last several years. In that regard, the tone in Washington has changed considerably.

We begin our advanced look at what the president needs to accomplish, wants to accomplish with Kelly Wallace, White House correspondent, who's outside the White House tonight.

Kelly, what does the president want to do tonight?

KELLY WALLACE, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Aaron, he really wanted to, at one month mark since the September 11 attacks, go before the American people and really give an update on the state of this war against terrorism. We understand President Bush decided this morning that it was an appropriate time to have a news conference. And he reserves the East Room for very important occasions and believed the news conference during wartime was an important occasion enough to use that venue.

We expect him go over the progress that the administration feels has been accomplished so far, on the military front, on the diplomatic front, on the financial front. We heard Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill say $24 million has been frozen so far in bank assets in the United States and around the world, believed to be linked to Osama Bin Laden and his Al Qaeda organization.

Also, we're expecting some news, Aaron. We're expecting what the White House is calling a major advance in the humanitarian effort, to help the people of Afghanistan and the people of neighboring countries. We know this administration has already pledged $320 million to help people there.

As you noted, the president expected to do a brief statement and then take a range of questions from reporters. This news conference expected to go about 30 to 40 minutes, definitely likely to get some questions on a new alert issued by the FBI. The FBI saying that it has certain information, while not specific as to target, gives the government reason to believe that there may be additional, terrorist attacks within the United States and against U.S. interests overseas over the next several days.

So Aaron, again, a difficult balancing act for this president because he is certain to encourage the American people to continue go about their normal business, but to be on alert and to let them know that the government is doing everything it possibly can to deal with such threats. Again, a difficult balancing act, trying to calm a very nervous public -- Aaron.

BROWN: Kelly, there aren't many easy days for the president in the last month or so. I know you need to get back inside so you can ask some of those wide ranging questions. We'll let you do that.

Let me turn to our senior analyst, Jeff Greenfield for a second.

Jeff, if what the president wanted to do was come out and simply update the country on where the war effort is or make an announcement on humanitarian aid or any of those things that Kelly talked about, all he had to do was have his chief-of-staff call us, call the networks and he gets prime time access. So the question then becomes why a press conference, which is inherently riskier?

JEFF GREENFIELD, CNN SENIOR ANALYST: That's exactly why because I think this is a moment to show that the commander in chief is in command. There's been a lot talked about how this attack has transformed the president, that he -- it's almost, if you'll pardon the analogy, like Prince Howell becoming Henry V in Shakespeare, a much more serious, determined fellow. And one of the ways that you show you're in command is to be willing to open yourself to questions in prime time.

BROWN: Two audiences here, a domestic audience and an international audience. Does the president need to send different messages to each one?

GREENFIELD: This is a really complicated strategy. I think we've been calling this three-dimensional chess and I may be one or two dimensions short because not only does he got different audiences but he's got complicated messages for each. Just to look at international audience, he has to simultaneously tell the audience abroad we are determined to route out terrorism wherever it is, but this is not a war against Islam. We mean to provide humanitarian assistance but we are not kidding around. We are going to the source of this terrible attack.

And, so at the same time, he has to kind of tell our adversaries, we mean to do business, and tell our friends or would be friends or semi-friends, that we're really not after you and we're not after your religion and we're not trying to become conquerors.

BROWN: All right, so that's the complexity of the message. Let me go to Frank Sesno, our Washington bureau chief who's in the bureau in Washington.

Frank, pick up on this a little bit. This is a complicated message for the president to make. And clearly, the world is watching. It's not just a domestic audience, this is the entire world -- will be listening very carefully and to every word and for every -- or any misstep.

FRANK SESNO, CNN WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF: The world is watching very closely. Two points -- one, as far as the world is concerned, there is a very strong effort under way and this is part of it, to reach out to the very critical Islamic audience because this thing that Jeff was talking about, is this a war against Islam, is this a war against the Afghan people. It's something that administration is working very, very hard to try to explain. One administration official told me earlier that it's the president not any propaganda that's dropped from airplanes or is broadcast over the voice of America, but the imagery of the president that connects. And one person told me, for example, that in Morocco, they watched very closely and noted when the president showed up at the Islamic Cultural Center a few weeks ago, to send a visual message that he was reaching out to the Islamic community.

A second point, it's not just the president that's changed, the country has changed. For the first time, since the 60s, Aaron, a majority of Americans in polls, say they trust the government to do the right thing. So this notion of a commander in chief transformed combines with a nation transformed to present us tonight with event in likes of which we, in fact, have never seen, many of us.

BROWN: I don't know how many times, Frank; honestly, we have said something like that over the last month. So much about the last month has been, at least in our lifetimes, unique. The country attacked by an enemy we can't easily see and certainly doesn't show up clearly on these satellite maps that we see. It is all uncharted territory for all of us and certainly for a still very young administration.

SESNO: It's very -- you know, it does defy cliche, in fact, Aaron. And I've been in this town a fair piece of time and I've been in that East Room many times with other presidents, but, literally, none of us have seen this kind of thing with America's soil attacked, American's commander in chief put in a position like this and the FBI saying, "Be careful because there could be something, and we can't tell you what it is, within the next several days." So it's an issue of determination, and dread, and leadership all combined here.

BROWN: Frank, than you. We'll come back to you in a minute.

John Sununu is with us, the former chief of staff in the White House, not a governor, a particularly big fan of these prime time news conferences. When we talked earlier, I said because they're high risk and you said "Oh, no."

JOHN SUNUNU, FORMER WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: No, actually I'm very surprised. Since Frank emphasized that, the president wants to be communicating with our coalition, Islamic country coalition partners that they are doing one at 8:00. It's 4:00 in the morning over in the Middle East. And I am surprised that they wouldn't want the president to be seen live so that all the impact of what he says and all the impact of seeing it live would be there. But I'm not inside. I don't know all the details and I'm sure they've got a good reason for having chosen an 8:00 conference.

BROWN: Well, you have been inside and you do have some idea of how these discussions go. Obviously -- it seems obvious to me at least, they're trying to balance maximum exposure on domestic side with whatever exposure they can get on the foreign side and so they settle for prime time.

Have they had enough time to prepare the president? It's been a very busy day, a very busy week. And from what Kelly said, they only decided this morning to do this at all.

SUNUNU: Well, first of all, all the critical issues, the issues that you might have some concern that he has down pat for the news conference, are issues he has down pat anyway. He's been dealing with this almost nonstop for the last 30 days. He has been on the phone with foreign leaders almost nonstop for the last 30 days. The only issues that would have been a little bit tricky to prepare for tonight, I imagine, are the subtle nuances that the State Department might want him to build into the answers that have diplomatic impact. But this president is sharp. He understands what he has to do. And, frankly all they had to do is make sure he heard them once or twice before the news conference and he's going to be fine.

BROWN: Paul Begala is with us as well today. Paul worked, of course, in the Clinton White House as a political adviser. Paul, I guess the message here is to stay on message, to be very disciplined no matter what the question is, to answer it the way you want to answer it, don't get drawn in.

PAUL BEGALA, FORMER CLINTON ADVISER: Right and President Bush is a relentlessly disciplined communicator. I think the points that some of your other commentators made are very important. He's got to first make news. Maybe the humanitarian efforts that Kelly talked about in her report will be enough to hopefully set the lead. Maybe it'll be some more hard news than that. Second, he's got to show the kind of command that we've talked about tonight.

He was terrific at the joint session address in Congress with a prepared script. I think tonight he'll show a lot of command and a lot of strength confidence without a script at all and that would build the confidence of our coalition partners and of people here at home.

But third, to this point about staying on message, he's got to remain above the fray. There's another pitfall in addition to these nuances at the State Department, that John Sununu referred to, and that is there is simmering partisanship returning on Capitol Hill, which is the way our system works. But if I were working there and it was the president I worked for, I would have said, "Mr. President, tonight, stay above that fray. Let's not choose up sides of whether the Democratic version of stimulus is better than Republican version. Stay big, stay high, stay lofty. Don't get dragged down into the minutia of the political battles on Capitol Hill.

BROWN: But hasn't -- Paul, hasn't he already, to some degree, engaged in that? He talked the other day, specifically, about the economic recovery package, that he saw it as tax cut package by and large not a spending side package. So isn't he already in the fray whether he ought to be or wants to be or not?

BEGALA: He is a little bit. And we wrestled with this in the Clinton White House. But our president, of course, in our system is both the head of state and the head of government. He does have to do the functions of a prime minister in a parliamentary system and the function of a monarch in a monarchal system. But I think it's much better tonight with troops in harm's way, with a coalition that he's built very successfully and something I'm very admiring of, for him to stay on that high road. And let the chief of staff, let his congressional lobbyists, let Speaker Hastert and Senator Lott, his leaders on Capitol Hill work out those details. It's in his interest, right now, to unite all of us and that so far, he's done a terrific job of that.

BROWN: Paul, thank you. We turn now to Doug Brinkley, the presidential historian who's in New Orleans tonight. Professor, I started to think about historical parallels and actually, I stopped because how do you come up with one. The country's been attacked. Six thousand plus civilians have died. We're in the information age. Is it possible to learn anything from history at -- about this moment?

DOUG BRINKLEY, PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: Well, we're going to be watching how President Bush communicates. And certain presidents, at certain times, are quite good at it. Franklin Roosevelt really did a wonderful job during the Second World War of communicating what was happening.

President Bush has to do this tonight. It's a month after the bombing and there are some questions that the American people have. For example, this week we've seen images from Afghanistan, a bombing site. Was this successful? What did this mean? We've heard from Rumsfeld. We've heard from Powell. The president has to show that he's talking to the American people.

And secondly, the main issue, that a president who has a Texas populous streak in him and kind of wants to talk down homelike to people, is the term "homeland security." That's going to become one of the historical phrases that emerge from this period in the history textbooks of future. Or -- and it's a homeland security. Are we safe in our homes? What are we doing? There are FBI reports coming out now that we should be afraid. He -- President Bush is going to have to do this kind of a event week after week or certainly month after month to reassure the American people that we are safe within our borders.

BROWN: Doug, hang on there for a bit. Let me go now to our senior white house correspondent John King who's in the room. John, you've heard all of this. It does seem, to us, here, that in the last month, I don't want to say it's a transformation but the president does seem to have found his rhetorical footing. He comes across as a more confident speaker and this is yet another moment where that will be tested.

JOHN KING, CNN SR. WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Aaron, the president himself uses the word you were just reluctant to use. He calls this a transforming event for his presidency. And as Professor Brinkley was just saying, consider the challenge. He does want to reassure the country -- we're hearing an announcement here. The president is two minutes away from coming into the East Room -- consider the challenge, he wants to reassure the country one month after the strikes, that the United States is safer, that they should get about their business, that the military campaign will eventually be effective. Yet, at the same time, the FBI put out that advisory today. The president's own vice president is kept away from the White House most of the time, as a security precaution. So quite a delicate challenge for president tonight.

We're told he'll have both an opening and a closing statement. That is a new way of doing business at a presidential news conference. In that closing statement, we're told to look for a new humanitarian element to the campaign in Afghanistan. The president has said from the beginning he wants to feed the Afghan people even as he bombs their country.

We're told a new wrinkle tonight will be a new addition of some non-governmental money, a private sector effort to supplement the government effort to help feed the people of Afghanistan.

BROWN: John, I know you need to get seated and get ready -- the president about a minute away.

With that in mind, Jeff, we need to keep this brief.

If there is one danger for the president here, Jeff Greenfield, what is it?

GREENFIELD: It is that the press will ask questions that might embarrass him abroad: Why are the Saudis not freezing Osama bin Laden's assets? How come so many Muslims think this is a war against Islam? Why have you not answered some of the more outrageous attacks on the United States and our position?

That is the one big danger of a press conference. Even though you control the podium, you don't control what's being asked. And, also: Are you prepared to go after terrorism in states whose support you are now asking, if we think those states are in fact involved?

This is a very tricky series of questions that the president may be facing in just a minute or two.

BROWN: Jeff, thank you very much.

The president will enter the East Room of the White House. This is a very formal setting. We recall the first time we saw it, it was President Reagan who walked in. It has been six-and-a-half years since the president has held a news conference in prime time.

And, certainly, no president in our lifetime, any of us, has been in a situation quite like this -- the president now walking to the podium to make a statement and to field questions.

The president of the United States:

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Good evening. I would like to report to the American people on the state of our war against terror, and then I'll be happy to take questions from the White House press corps.

One month ago today, innocent citizens from more than 80 nations were attacked and killed without warning or provocation in an act that horrified not only every American, but every person of every faith and every nation who values human life.

The attack took place on American soil, but it was an attack on the heart and soul of the civilized world. And the world has come together to fight a new and different war, the first, and we hope the only one, of the 21st century; a war against all those who seek to export terror and a war against those governments that support or shelter them.

We've accomplished a great deal in one month. Our staunch friends, great Britain, our neighbors Canada and Mexico, our NATO allies, our allies in Asia, Russia and nations from every continent on the Earth have offered help of one kind or of another, from military assistance to intelligence information to crack down on terrorist financial networks.

This week, 56 Islamic nations issued a statement strongly condemning the savage acts of terror and emphasizing that those acts contradict the peaceful teachings of Islam. All is strong and united on the diplomatic front.

The men and women of the United States military are doing their duty with skill and success. We have ruined terrorist training camps, disrupted their communications, weakened the Taliban military and destroyed most of their air defenses.

We're mounting a sustained campaign to drive the terrorists out of their hidden caves and to bring them to justice. All missions are being executed according to plan on the military front.

At the same time, we are showing the compassion of America by delivering food and medicine to the Afghan people, who are themselves the victims of a repressive regime.

On the law enforcement front, terrorists are being swept up in an international dragnet. Several hundred have been arrested. Thousands of FBI agents are on the trail of other suspects here and abroad. Working with countries around the world, we have frozen more than $24 million in Al Qaeda or Taliban assets.

We are aggressively pursuing the agents of terror around the world, and we are aggressively strengthening our protections here at home. This week, we established America's new Office of Homeland Security, directed by former Governor Tom Ridge. Americans tonight can know that while the threat is ongoing, we are taking every possible step to protect our country from danger.

Your government is doing everything we can to recover from these attacks and to try to prevent others. We're acting to make planes and airports safer, rebuild New York and the Pentagon.

We must act to stimulate a slow economy, to help laid-off workers. And we must fund our military.

This is a time of testing -- this time of testing has revealed the true character of the American people. We're angry at the evil that was done to us, yet patient and just in our response.

Before September 11, my administration was planning an initiative called Communities of Character. It was designed to help parents develop good character in their children and to strengthen the spirit of citizenship and service in our communities. The acts of September 11 have prompted that initiative to occur on its own in ways far greater than I could have ever imagined.

We have shown great love for our country and great tolerance and respect for all our countrymen.

I was struck by this that in many cities when Christian and Jewish women learned that Muslim women, women of cover, were afraid of going out of their homes alone, that they went shopping with them, that they showed true friendship and support, an act that shows the world the true nature of America.

Our war on terrorism has nothing to do with differences in faith. It has everything to do with people of all faiths coming together to condemn hate and evil and murder and prejudice.

One month after great suffering and sorrow, America is strong and determined and generous. I am honored to lead such a country, and I know we are ready for the challenges ahead.

And now I welcome your questions.

QUESTION: Thank you, sir.

You said that the threat is ongoing and indeed, the deadly virus of anthrax was found in three Florida people this week. Osama bin Laden spokesman says storms of planes are yet to be hijacked. Your FBI warned just today that terrorists attacks could be happening again in the next couple of days.

If the FBI knows of a credible threat, can you assure the public that you would take the precaution of locking down any system involved, whether it's buildings, airports, water systems, to prevent more deaths? And most importantly, is there anything you can say to Americans who feel helpless to protect themselves and their families from the next wave of attacks if there are more to come?

What can people do to protect themselves?

BUSH: Sure. Today, the Justice Department did issue a blanket alert. It was in recognition of a general threat we received. This is not the first time the Justice Department have acted like this. I hope it's the last, but given the attitude of the evildoers, it may not be.

I have urged my -- our fellow Americans to go about their lives, to fly on airplanes, to travel, to go to work. But I also want to encourage them by telling them that our government is on full alert and that the alert put out today by the Justice Department was such an action.

Now, if we receive specific intelligence, where we -- a credible threat that targets a specific building or city or facility, I can assure you, our government will do everything possible to protect the citizens around, in or near that facility.

And let me give you one example of a specific threat we received. You may remember recently there was a lot of discussion about crop dusters. We received knowledge that perhaps an Al Qaeda operative was prepared to use a crop duster to spray a biological weapon or a chemical weapon on American people, and so we responded. We contacted every crop dust location, airports from which crop dusters leave. We notified crop duster manufacturers to a potential threat. We knew full well that in order for a crop duster to become a weapon of mass destruction would require a retrofitting, and so we talked to machine shops around where crop dusters are located.

We took strong and appropriate action, and we will do so anytime we receive a credible threat.

Now, the American people have got to go about their business.

We cannot let the terrorists achieve the objective of frightening our nation to the point where we don't conduct business or people don't shop.

That's their intention. Their intention was not only to kill and maim and destroy, their intention was to frighten to the point where our nation would not act. Their intention was to so frighten our government that we wouldn't seek justice; that somehow we would cower in the face of their threats and not respond abroad or at home. We're both responding abroad and at home.

The American people, obviously if they see something that is suspicious, something out of the norm that looks suspicious, they ought to notify local law authorities. But in the meantime, they ought to take comfort in knowing our government is doing everything we possibly can.

We've got a Homeland Security Office now running, as I mentioned, headed by Tom Ridge.

We're sharing intelligence with our friends in countries from overseas. We follow every lead. And information sharing between the CIA and the FBI is seamless so that the reaction to any threat is real time.

And -- but the truth of the matter is, in order to fully defend America, we must defeat the evil-doers where they hide. We must round them up and we must bring them to justice.

And that's exactly what we're doing in Afghanistan, the first battle in the war of the 21st century.

QUESTION: Yes, Mr. President. Thank you.

You've been careful to avoid saying how long the military strikes in Afghanistan might take place. But can you promise to say how long American -- can you avoid being drawn into a Vietnam-like quagmire in Afghanistan?

BUSH: We learned some very important lessons in Vietnam. Perhaps the most important lesson that I learned is that you cannot fight a guerrilla war with conventional forces.

That's why I have explained to the American people that we're engaged in a different type of war, one obviously that will use conventional forces, but one in which we've got to fight on all fronts.

I remember saying to you all that the first shot in the war was when we started cutting of their money, because an Al Qaeda organization can't function without money. And we're continuing our efforts to reach out to willing nations to disrupt and seize assets of the Al Qaeda organization.

We're in the process of rounding up Al Qaeda members around the world. There are Al Qaeda organizations in roughly 68 countries. And over 200 have now been apprehended. And every time I talk to a world leader I urge them to continue finding the Al Qaeda representatives and bring them to justice.

As far as the use of conventional forces, we've got a clear plan, and it's to say to the host government that, "You have been given your chance."

And by the way, I gave them ample opportunity to turn over Al Qaeda. I made it very clear to them, in no uncertain terms, that in order to avoid punishment they should turn over the parasites that hide in their country.

They obviously refused to do so, and now they're paying a price. We are dismantling their military, disrupting their communications, severing their ability to defend themselves, and slowly but surely we're smoking Al Qaeda out of their caves so we can bring them to justice.

People often ask me, "How long will this last?" This particular battle front will last as long as it takes to bring Al Qaeda to justice. It may happen tomorrow, it may happen a month from now, it may take a year or two, but we will prevail.

And what the American people need to know is what our allies know: I am determined to stay the course. And we must do so. We must do so.

We must rid the world of terrorists so our children and grandchildren can grow up in freedom. It is essential. It is now our time to act, and I'm proud to lead a country that understands that.

QUESTION: Mr. President, today Defense Secretary Rumsfeld said that Osama bin Laden was probably still in Afghanistan. How can the U.S. get him dead or alive, to use words that you've used recently, if we're not entirely sure whether he's in the country? And can we win the war on terrorism if bin Laden is not found?

BUSH: Ours is a war against terrorism in general. Mr. bin Laden is one of the worst, but as you may remember, we published the 22 most wanted. He is one of 22 we're after.

In terms of Mr. bin Laden himself, we'll get him running. We'll smoke him out of his cave and we'll get him eventually.

But success or failure depends not on bin Laden.

Success or failure depends upon rooting out terrorism where it may exist all around the world. He's just one person, a part of a network. And we're slowly, but surely, with determined fashion, rooting that network out and bringing it to justice.

We've been active for a month. I intend to be giving you a briefing for as long as I am the president.

I understand this is an unconventional war. It's a different kind of war. It's not the kind of war we're used to in America. The greatest generation was used to storming beachheads. Baby boomers such as myself was used to getting caught in a quagmire of Vietnam where politics made decisions more than the military sometimes. Generation X was able to watch technology right in front of their TV screens, you know, burrow into concrete bunkers in Iraq and blow them up.

This is a different kind of war that requires a different type of approach and a different type of mentality.

And so we're going to slowly but surely tighten the net on terrorists wherever they live. And it's essential to do so now. It's essential to do so now. The actions my government takes in concert with other countries, the actions we take at home to defend ourselves will serve as a go-by for future presidents or future prime ministers in Britain, for example, or future FBI directors. It is important that we stay the course, bring these people to justice to show -- and show others how to fight the new wars of the 21st century.

QUESTION: Mr. President, on that note, we understand you have advisers who are urging you to go after Iraq, take out Iraq, Syria and so forth. Do you really think that the American people will tolerate you widening the war beyond Afghanistan? And I have a follow-up.

(LAUGHTER)

BUSH: Thank you for warning me.

(LAUGHTER)

BUSH: Our focus is on Afghanistan and the terrorist network hiding in Afghanistan right now. But as well, we're looking for Al Qaeda cells around the world. If we find an Al Qaeda cell operating, we will urge the host country to bring them to justice. And we're having some progress -- we're making progress.

As I mentioned, this is a long war against terrorist activity, and the doctrine I spelled out to the American people in front of Congress said not only will we seek out and bring to justice individual terrorists who cause harm to people -- to murder people, we will also bring to justice the host governments that sponsor them, that house them and feed them.

You mentioned Iraq. There's no question that the leader of Iraq is an evil man. After all, he gassed his own people. We know he's been developing weapons of mass destruction. And I think it's in his advantage to allow inspectors back in his country to make sure that he's conforming to the agreement he made after he was soundly trounced in the Gulf War. And so we're watching him very carefully.

We're watching him carefully.

Your follow-up, please?

QUESTION: It's a little off-beat, but...

BUSH: OK, well, I expect an off-beat question, frankly.

QUESTION: You've met twice in the White House since you've been in office with Prime Minister Sharon, but you have refused to meet with Yasser Arafat. Now that you envision a Palestinian state, will you see and will you meet with Arafat? And if so, when?

BUSH: I want to assure the American people, and particularly our allies who are interested in our position in the Middle East, that we're spending a lot of time dealing with the Middle East. I know there was some concern amongst our allies when the September 11 -- right after the September 11 attack, that we would forego any responsibility we have in the Middle East.

Secretary of State Powell is going a great job of staying in contact with both Mr. Arafat and Prime Minister Sharon.

I have met with Prime Minister Sharon, and I have assured him every time we've met that he has no better friend than the United States of America.

I also stated the other day that if we ever get into the Mitchell process, where we can start discussing a political solution in the Middle East, that I believe there ought to be a Palestinian state, the boundaries of which will be negotiated by the parties so long as the Palestinian state recognizes the right of Israel to exist, and will treat Israel with respect, and will be peaceful on her borders.

Obviously, the events of September 11 have prevented overt diplomacy in the Middle East -- not prevented it; just made it -- my calendar's a little crowded.

On the other hand, I am very much engaged. I have spoken to Prime Minister Sharon again. And if I am convinced that a meeting with a particular party at this point in time will further the process, I will do so. If it turns out to be an empty photo opportunity that creates expectations that will become dashed, I won't meet.

I hope progress is being made. I was pleased to see that Mr. Arafat is trying to control the radical elements within the Palestinian Authority.

And I think the world ought to applaud him for that.

I hope he's taking measures necessary to reduce the violence in the Middle East so that we can get into the Mitchell process. We're working hard on the topic. It's a very important part of our foreign policy.

QUESTION: Mr. President, good evening.

I'd like to ask you for a more complete portrait of your progress so far.

Can you tell the American people specifically what is the state of Osama bin Laden? What is the state of the Al Qaeda network? Are they on the run? To what extent have you been able to disrupt their activities? Do you believe there are members of those cells still in the United States capable of carrying out terrorist acts? And again, do you know whether Osama bin Laden is dead or alive?

BUSH: Yes. Let me start backwards. I don't know if he is dead or alive. I want him brought to justice, however.

We are following every possible lead to make sure that any Al Qaeda member that could be in the United States is brought to justice.

The FBI has got thousands of agents who are following every hint of a possibility of an Al Qaeda member in our country. We're chasing down the leads that have been given to us as a result of the bombing. And we're following other leads.

Let me say one thing about the FBI that I think people find interesting. All of us in government are having to adjust our way of thinking about the new war. The military is going to have to adjust. They recognize -- and Secretary Rumsfeld clearly understands this -- that we need to have a -- that we need to rethink how we configure our military. There's been some stories to that effect -- so that we more effectively respond to asymmetrical responses from terrorist organizations.

The FBI must think differently, and Director Mueller is causing them to do so. The FBI, as you know, spent a lot of manpower and time chasing Cold -- spies. In the post-Cold War era, they were still chasing spies.

Nothing wrong with that, except we have a new enemy. And now the FBI is rightly directing resources toward homeland security. It's been an adjustment, and I'm proud to report that Director Mueller has adjusted quickly.

I am confident that the Al Qaeda organization is moving around Afghanistan. They think they might find safe haven? Not if we think they're there. And we got them on the run.

The other day we brought to justice a person that killed an American citizen in 1986. He was charged with murder. And I made a point of talking about that in a press conference because I wanted not only terrorists to understand, but the American people to understand that we'll be patient, if need be, to bring them to justice. We'll find them.

This is an interesting case in Afghanistan, because he thought he had hijacked a country. He actually did for a while. He forced a country to accept his radical thoughts, and it became a safe haven for bin Laden and the Al Qaeda organization.

It's no longer a safe haven, that's for sure, because of our military activity.

QUESTION: Mr. President, you have tried very had to assure Americans that the country is safe and yet your own vice president has spent of this week in a secure location. Can you explain why that is and also how long that will last?

BUSH: Sure. I shook hands with the vice president today in the Oval Office. I welcomed him out of his secure location.

(LAUGHTER)

BUSH: There are some times when the vice president and I will be together and some times we won't be. We take very seriously the notion of the continuity of government. It's a responsibility we share to make sure that, under situations such as this, when there are possible threats facing our government, that we separate ourselves for the sake of continuity of our government.

And I was pleased to see him; he's looking swell.

QUESTION: Thank you, Mr. President.

Sir, some critics have expressed doubts about trying to get nations that once sponsored terrorism to now cooperate in the effort against terrorism.

Would you share your thinking with us, sir? And is it your view that every sinner should get a chance to redeem himself; that there is, in effect, an amnesty for nations that once sponsored terrorism if they will now stop and cooperate with us?

BUSH: Of course. But our ability to affect host nations harboring terrorists will depend upon our determination, our will, our patience. We are sending a signal to the world as we speak that if you harbor a terrorist, there will be a price to pay.

And the -- there are nations in the world that have -- that have expressed a desire to help. Helen mentioned Syria. The Syrians have talked to us about how they can help in the war against terrorism. We take that -- we take that seriously and we'll give them an opportunity to do so.

I'm a performance-oriented person. I believe in results. And if you want to join the coalition against terror, we'll welcome you in. I have recognized some countries will do things that, you know, some -- that others won't do.

All I ask is for results. If you say you want to join us to cut off money, show us the money. If you say you want to join us militarily like Great Britain does, do so. And they have done so in a fashion that should make the people of Great Britain proud.

If you're interested in sharing intelligence, share intelligence -- all ways. I appreciated diplomatic talk, but I'm more interested in action and results.

I am absolutely determined -- absolutely determined to root terrorism out where it exists and bring them to justice.

We learned a good lesson on September the 11th, that there is evil in this world. I know there's a lot of children in America wondering what took place. I think it's essential that all moms and dads and citizens tell their children we love them and there is love in the world, but also remind them there are evil people.

And it's my duty as the president of the United States to use the resources of this great nation, a freedom-loving nation, a compassionate nation, a nation that understands values of life and root terrorism out where it exists.

And we're going to give plenty of nations a chance to do so.

QUESTION: After the FBI warning of today, which was based, it said, on certain information that there would be retaliatory attacks over the next several days, given the complete generality of that warning, what does it really accomplish, aside from scaring people into not doing what you've urged them to do -- getting back to their normal lives? What should they do with it? And did you personally approve the issuance of that warning?

BUSH: I'm aware of the intelligence that caused the warning to be issued, and it was a general threat on America. And as I mentioned earlier, had it been a specific threat, we would have contacted those to whom the threat was directed.

But I think it is important for the American people to know their government is on full alert. And that's what that warning showed. We take every threat seriously. And the American people shouldn't be surprised that we are issuing alerts. After all, on our TV screens the other day, we saw the evil one threatening, calling for more destruction and death in America.

And so we should take these threats seriously. And we had another threat, a general threat. Had it been specific, we would have dealt with the specifics of the threat.

I think the American people should take comfort in the fact that their government is doing everything we possibly can do to run down every possible lead and take threats -- and we take threats seriously.

I think the American people do understand that after September 11, that we're facing a different world, and they accept that responsibility. They accept that responsibility.

There is, I think, some positive news about the American people reacting to what we're doing. The load factors on airplanes are increasing. Now, I recognize certain routes have been reduced, but, nevertheless, people are getting back on airplanes. That's important, that that be the case.

Hotels are getting more customers. That's important for the working people of the country.

We are getting back to normal. We're doing so with a new sense of awareness. And the warning that went out today helped to heighten that sense of awareness.

QUESTION: Mr. President, you've said on repeated occasions that you're not into nation-building. Yet it appears in this case, given the politics of the region, it may play a crucial role in resolving this crisis.

Prime Minister Blair of Britain has said that the coalition, if the Taliban falls, will work to create a broadly-based government. I'm wondering, sir, has that become a priority of your administration now to devise a plan for a new government in Afghanistan? And what part might King Zahir Shah play in that?

BUSH: Well, I think it's -- first let me reiterate, my focus is bringing Al Qaeda to justice and saying to the host government, "You had your chance to deliver."

Actually, I will say it again. "If you cough him up and his people today that we'll reconsider what we're doing to your country. You still have a second chance. Just bring him in, and bring his leaders and lieutenants and other thugs and criminals with him. "

I think we did learn a lesson, however, from -- and should learn a lesson from the previous engagement in the Afghan area, that we should not just simply leave after a military objective has been achieved.

That's why -- and I sent that signal by announcing that we're going to spend $330 million of aid to Afghan -- the Afghan people. That's up from roughly $170 million this year.

I personally think that a -- and I appreciate Tony Blair's -- and I've discussed this with him -- his vision about Afghan after we're successful -- Afghanistan after we're successful.

One of the things that we've got make sure of is that all parties -- all interested parties have an opportunity to be a part of a new government, that we shouldn't play favorites between one group or another within Afghanistan.

Secondly, we've got work for a stable Afghanistan so that her neighbors don't fear terrorist activity again coming out that country.

Third, it'd be helpful, of course, to eradicate narcotrafficking out of Afghanistan as well.

I believe that the United Nations could provide the framework necessary to help meet those conditions. It would be a useful function for the United Nations to take over the so-called nation- building -- I would call it the stabilization of a future government -- after our military mission is complete.

We'll participate. Other countries will participate. I've talked to many countries that are interested in making sure that the post-operations Afghanistan is one that is stable and one that doesn't become yet again a haven for terrorist criminals.

QUESTION: Mr. President, I'm sure many Americans are wondering where all of this will lead. And you've called upon the country to go back to business and to go back to normal, but you haven't called for any sacrifices from the American people. And I wonder, do you feel that any will be needed? Are you planning to call for any? And do you think that American life will really go back to the way it was on September 10?

BUSH: Well, you know, I think the American people are sacrificing now. I think they're waiting in airport lines longer than they've ever had before.

I think that -- I think there's a certain sacrifice when you lose a piece of your soul. And Americans -- listen, I was standing up there at the Pentagon today and I saw the tears of the families whose lives were lost in the Pentagon. And I said in my talk there that, "America prays with you." I think there's a sacrifice. There's a certain sense of giving themselves to share their grief with people that they'll maybe never see in their lives.

So America is sacrifice. I think the interesting thing that has happened, and this is so sad an incident, but there are some positive things that are developing.

One is I believe that many people are reassessing what's important in life. Moms and dads are not only reassessing their marriage and the importance of their marriage, but of the necessity of loving their children like never before.

I think that's one of the positives that have come from the evildoers.

The evil ones have sparked an interesting change in America, I think, a compassion in our country that is overflowing. I know their intended act was to destroy us and make us cowards and make us not want to respond, but quite the opposite has happened. Our nation is united, we are strong, we're compassionate, neighbors care about neighbors.

The story I talked about earlier was one that really touched my heart, about women of cover fearing to leave their homes, and there was such an outpouring of compassion for people within our own country, a recognition that the Islamic faith should stand side by side, hand to hand with the Jewish faith and the Christian faith in our great land. It is such a wonderful example.

You know, I'm asked all the time, I'll ask myself a question: How do I respond to...

(LAUGHTER)

It's an old trick. How do I...

(LAUGHTER)

How do I respond when I see that in some Islamic countries there is vitriolic hatred for America? I'll tell you how I respond: I'm amazed.

I'm amazed that there's such misunderstanding of what our country is about that people would hate us. I am -- like most Americans, I just can't believe it because I know how good we are.

And we've got to do a better job of making our case. We've got to do a better job of explaining to the people in the Middle East, for example, that we don't fight a war against Islam or Muslims. We don't hold any religion accountable. We're fighting evil.

And these murderers have hijacked a great religion in order to justify their evil deeds. And we cannot let it stand.

QUESTION: Mr. President, you have spoken with great pride of this international coalition. I want to ask you, before the events of September 11 one of the big questions you faced this fall was would you violate the Anti-Ballistic Missile treaty and go ahead with the missile defense plan if Russia did not strike a deal. Will you do that now because Russia's cooperation is so important?

And separately, but related, are you disappointed that while there have been some statements of support from the Muslim world that there have -- and the Arab world, that there have not been more vocal and repeated statements agreeing with you that this is a war against terrorism, not Islam?

BUSH: Let me start with the latter part. I was heartened by the Organization of Islamic Conferences' statement of support for our war against terror. I think that statement spoke volumes about the attitude of Muslim nations, and I was pleased to see that support.

Some coalition members will feel more comfortable doing certain things than other coalition members will. And my attitude is, and the attitude of my administration is, we will accept any help that a government's comfortable in giving. And we should not try to force governments to do something that they can't do.

Any help is better than no help. And so I am so appreciative of the help we are getting in the Middle East.

Somebody asked me the other day, "Was I pleased with the actions of Saudi Arabia?" I am. I appreciate the actions of that government.

In terms of missile defense, I can't wait to visit with my friend Vladimir Putin in Shanghai to reiterate, once again, that the Cold War is over, it's done with, and that there are new threats that we face.

And no better example of that new threat than the attack on America on September 11.

And I'm going to ask my friend to envision a world in which a terrorist thug and/or a host nation might have the ability to develop -- to deliver a weapon of mass destruction via a -- via rocket. And wouldn't it be in our nations' advantage to be able to shoot it down?

At the very least, it should be in our nations' advantage to determine whether we can shoot it down. And we're restricted from doing that because of an ABM Treaty that was signed during a totally different era. The case cannot be even -- the case is more strong today than it was on September the 10th that the ABM is outmoded, outdated, reflects a different time.

And I am more than anxious to continue making my case to them, and we will do what's right in regards...

(CROSSTALK)

QUESTION: ... does not agree, would you withdraw this year?

BUSH: Excuse me. I'm having trouble hearing.

QUESTION: If he does not agree with you, would you withdraw from the ABM Treaty this year?

BUSH: I have told Mr. Putin that the ABM Treaty is outdated, antiquated and useless. And I hope that he will join us in a new strategic relationship.

One more question, please. Thank you.

QUESTION: You talk about the general threat toward Americans. The Internet is crowded with all sorts of rumor and gossip and, kind of, urban myths. And people ask us, what is it they're supposed to be on the lookout for? Other than the 22 most wanted terrorists, what are Americans supposed to look for and report to the police or to the FBI?

BUSH: You know, if you find a person that you've never seen before getting in a crop-duster that doesn't belong to you, report it.

(LAUGHTER)

If you see suspicious people lurking around petrochemical plants, report it to law enforcement. I mean, people need to be logical.

And listen, I want to urge my fellow Americans not to use this as an opportunity to pick on somebody that doesn't look like you or doesn't share your religion.

The thing that makes our nation so strong and that will ultimately defeat terrorist activity is our willingness to tolerate people of different faiths, different opinions, different colors within the fabric of our society.

And so I would urge my fellow Americans, obviously, if they see something suspicious, abnormal, something that looks threatening, report it to local law enforcement.

Let me conclude...

(CROSSTALK)

BUSH: Let me conclude by one final statement. Thank you all for coming.

Before we leave, I want to make a special request to the children of America. I ask you to join in a special effort to help the children of Afghanistan. Their country has been through a great deal of war and suffering. Many children there are starving and are severely malnourished. One in three Afghan children is orphan, almost half suffer chronic malnutrition, and we can and must help them.

We've created a special relief effort that will be supervised by the Red Cross.

We are asking every child in America to earn or give a dollar that will be used to provide food and medical help for the children of Afghanistan. You can send your dollar in an envelope marked "America's Fund for Afghan Children" right here to the White House, 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, Washington, D.C.

This is an opportunity to help others while teaching our own children a valuable lesson about service and character. I hope school classes or Boys and Girl Scout troops, other youth organizations will participate in any way to raise the money to send to the children. Wash a car. Do a yard for a neighbor. And I hope the adults will help them as well.

Ultimately, one of the best weapons, one of the truest weapons that we have against terrorism is to show the world the true strength of character and kindness of the American people.

Americans are united in this fight against terrorism. We're also united in our concern for the innocent people of Afghanistan.

Winter is coming, and by acting today we can help the children survive.

Thank you for your questions.

May God bless America.

BROWN: President George W. Bush, the first prime-time press conference by a president in 6.5 years. In many ways, the President used this 45 minutes, the 10, 12 questions that we counted to restate administration policy to say some of the many of the same things he has said for the last month. This is a different kind of war. It won't be easy. It won't just be military.

He's said again that it'll be diplomatic, that it'll be economic. He talked about money that had already been frozen, $24 million in al Qaeda and Taliban accounts. He talked about sacrifice at one point. He said I think there's a certain sacrifice when you lose a piece of your soul. The President had been asked if he was asking the American people to sacrifice.

John King was in the room. And John, your a wire service reporter. What's the lead, as you heard it?

KING: Well, I think certainly the lead would be to me the most intriguing thing, the President saying there are conversations with other governments about the expanded war on terrorism.

Two points. I would make one. The President said he didn't know if Osama bin Laden was dead or alive. An admission that U.S. intelligence is not what the administration would hope, or at least the President's not willing to say so publicly.

Number two, I was quite intrigued by the President saying that there have been positive discussions with the government of Syria about perhaps pursuing terrorists elsewhere. Syria has a great deal of influence over Lebanon, where the Hezbollah is based.

The President recently had the State Department deliver a very blunt message, we are told, to the government of Syria, the government of Iran, the government of Iraq as well, saying watch what we are doing in Afghanistan. We want you to cooperate with us in the future.

The President means this. He seemed optimistic that Syria, perhaps, would come to the table. That, I found quite striking.

In the room here, he called on 13 reporters. There were 14 or 15 questions, if you count the follow-ups and the one he asked himself. What was most striking is there is a debate here at home as well. We are in a recession. The government is debating how to deal with that in the wake of these terrorist attacks.

There are debates over airline security. Debates in the Congress over new law enforcement powers to fight terrorism. No one asked about any of that. Count me as guilty, I guess, if that's one of the questions people at home wanted asked here, but a great deal of focus on the war on terrorism, the specifics, the nuts and bolts.

The President voicing confidence he would win phase one in Afghanistan, but he also made clear this will be a sustained effort. It won't be over tomorrow, next week or next month.

BROWN: I noted, too, that we had talked leading up to the President's press conference, that these other questions, the disputes over how best to stimulate the economy, the architecture, if you will, of the airline security bill, whether to federalize the screeners or not. We anticipated those to come up. They didn't.

One more thing, John, for the last couple of days, it seems to me that the administration has been downplaying the importance of Osama bin Laden as a character in this. Obviously, they still want him. We heard Secretary Rumsfeld the other day saying it's really not bin Laden. It's much broader than that.

The President said that if you go back three weeks ago, that really wasn't what the administration was saying, or at least not how it sounded?

KING: Much more focus on bin Laden directly in the early days of this, but the administration realizes, from a public relations standpoint, and in sustained public support, that people might begin to ask the question, "How can the world's strongest military, the world's strongest economy, the world's biggest superpower, not find a man who lives in a remote country in a cave, who only has a few thousand supporters?"

They know that question would be asked of the President time and again, trying to explain how difficult it is, number one, especially to not put U.S. troops in the greatest risk, to find bin Laden, but at the same time, trying to make clear, because it's not just about one man, that he will be patient and stake out Afghanistan as long as it takes to find him, but that he will also prosecute this war on other fronts as well.

It's a delicate line. Almost every question we've been asked is a delicate line for the President. Whether it be how can you have the FBI issue that warning and keep your vice president away, but tell Americans to get about their business and get on a plane? How can you keep a military operation over a very small or very poor country, with relatively crude weapons, if you compare them to those of the United States, but not find Osama bin Laden?

Tough questions for the President.

BROWN: John, thank you. Senior White House correspondent John King.

As someone said to me here the other night, it's a lot easier to hide then it is to seek. That's part of the problem with finding Osama bin Laden for a great superpower like the United States.

A reminder, 9:00 Eastern time, "LARRY KING LIVE," coming up. We'll talk to our assembled group in a moment. We'll take a first -- a short break first. CNN's coverage of this presidential news conference continues in just a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BROWN: We've invited a group of friends and colleagues to listen in and to react to the President tonight. We want a quickly go around the circle to get quick reaction from them and then we'll expand the conversation some.

Let's start with our senior analyst, Jeff Greenfield. Jeff, the headline as you heard it?

GREENFIELD: How much the President was speaking to the international community. From the very first opening statement, he talked about citizens from 80 nations who died, that this horrified person of every faith in every nation, that it is aimed not only America, but at the heart and soul of the civilized world.

The story about Christian and Jewish women doing shopping and other chores for Muslim women, as he called them, women of cover who are afraid to go out. And the optimistic way, the almost buoyant way he said, "Hey, whatever you other nations want to do, come on and help us." Including very much, as John King pointed out, nations that our own State Department has listed as supporting terrorism.

Clearly a speech aimed at the world.

BROWN: Frank Sesno, our Washington bureau chief, the headline as you heard it?

SESNO: Every constituencies was touched here. And the main thing that the President has been trying to get across to the American public, since this whole thing began, is this is a war unlike any other. It will require uncommon patience and uncommon imagination to see it through.

I was struck by the -- where he talked about the greatest generation. This is not going to be a war that's fought on beaches, about the baby boomer generation. To the baby boomers he said, "This is not going to be a quagmire like Vietnam and to Gen-X." It's not going to be a sanitary, high tech war, unlike any war they've seen. BROWN: Former White House chief of staff John Sununu, what did you hear tonight? What was the headline from where you sitting in Manchester, New Hampshire?

SUNUNU: Well, the headline was the President telling all the coalition members that this is a very layered coalition. We want everyone to participate at the maximum level they can, but only at the level that they can.

And I think that was a very important message. I thought the second thing that struck me about what the President did tonight is he gave long, detailed, almost academically redundant, but strong answers to every question. I think he held the press to the fewest number of questions in 45 minutes of any press conference I've heard in a long time.

BROWN: I can almost see you smiling there.

SUNUNU: That's not almost.

BROWN: Let's come back to that point. I've heard that, too. I thought the President was staying on message tonight, in a pretty disciplined way.

SUNUNU: Very much so.

BROWN: But let's go to Paul Begala. I guess you heard that, too, Paul. What other headline did you hear?

BEGALA: I did. He was very disciplined. And my friend Carl Roche, who's his chief political adviser, must be very happy to hear the President this phrase, "We're going to smoke him out and get him running."

But there's another thing that struck. And that is, there's a huge debate in Washington, in the Bush administration, between deputy Defense Secretary Wolfowitz, who wants a wider war, including targeting Iraq and Syria and other sponsors of terrorism and General Power, our Secretary of State, who wants to focus at least first, and I think primarily, on al Qaeda and Afghanistan.

If I read and heard President Bush's answer to Helen Thomas' question right, he was very specific that he said our focus is limited to al Qaeda for right now. He left a slight door open. He did not sound very hawkish in going after these other countries.

BROWN: I agree that that's what he said. I'm curious if that's -- if that was a deliberate and precise answer. My sense at the time was every answer was deliberate and precise. And that probably was as well.

Let's check presidential historian, Doug Brinkley, who's with us from New Orleans. Professor, what did you hear?

BRINKLEY: Well first off, I think he did a first rate job. He was in full command. He reassured the American people. And boy, difficult times make great leaders. And it seems like George W. Bush is the right man for our country to deal with this crisis. That's the general impression.

But I think he has an Achilles heel. The most famous quote, it came up in two questions, was Bush's famous "wanted dead or alive" and the backtracking. Of saying, well, he's one of 1 of 22. Well, no, he isn't 1 of 22. He's the one that's responsible for the World Trade Center bombing and the Pentagon.

We know there are other 21, but he was the one he said he wanted dead or alive. And he uses Reagan-esque language "want to smoke them out of the cave," as if bin Laden's a Neanderthal man. But I think there's a danger over time that if bin Laden keeps doing underground videotapes, thumbing his nose at the United States, bin Laden's going to grow and grow as a great leader in the Islamic world. And that's Bush great danger.

Bush's 90 percent public opinion poll a year now could be much less if we're starting to get more bin Laden attacks around the world. And this guy just can't be captured.

BROWN: Doug, thanks. Back to Jeff Greenfield.

Jeff, I'm interested in language here. At various points, the President talked about thugs. He talked about the evil ones, the evil doers. That is the sound of President Bush in the first days when he talked about "wanted dead or alive."

Is there a danger to this sort of language?

GREENFIELD: Well, I think it's the danger that Doug Brinkley pointed out. I think that was no accident. Very few things that a President says in this kind of form are. I think it was populist language. I think it was designed to show, in this case, this was for domestic consumption that we are having no truck with these guys. We're going to go get them.

I think the other part about that, Aaron, is the degree to which the President used humor. That's not something that you might have expected in this kind of form, but I think he was trying to show a sense of command. I'm in charge and I'm relaxed enough and confident enough even to play with the press a little bit, which normally happens in a press conference. But boy, it's a strange occasion to do it.

I think that was also quite deliberate.

BROWN: About 90 seconds left, gentlemen.

John Sununu, we talked about this a bit before we went on the air. This was as president in control of a moment that can easily get out of control. Agreed?

SUNUNU: I think he was in full control tonight. He was comfortable. This is a president that's getting more and more comfortable every day. Even in the tough question on Iraq, I think he actually said exactly what he wanted to do.

I think in a way, he was in fact talking back to his own cabinet and sub-cabinet members, in letting them know that he has defined the objective for now as being Afghanistan. And those are trying to expand it too early in his mind into including Iraq, ought to understand it's a presidential decision that's firm.

BROWN: And let give the last word to our Washington bureau chief, Frank Sesno. Frank, the President, we said it earlier, had seemed to find his rhetorical comfort zone over the last month. Nothing happened that I heard today to change that?

SESNO: Absolutely not. I mean, he used very active words. He talked about will, patience, determination. They were strong and forceful words. And to the subject about whether this thing is going to be is expanded, and I caught this, this is essential that we do this now. He talked about children and grandchildren. This is projected far into the future.

BROWN: Gentlemen all, thank you for your participation tonight. "LARRY KING LIVE" is coming up in just a moment. And Larry King is coming up even sooner than that.

Larry, give us an idea of what's ahead?

LARRY KING, "LARRY KING LIVE": Well, we've got Senators Biden and Hagel to kick things off. Bob Woodward's going to be with us. Broke a big story today. Major discussion on bioterrorism with your old friend Mike Wallace, Congressman Christopher Shays and Colonel Randall Larson will be back.

Then we've got a special gift to us from Paul McCartney, that we're going to close the program with. That's coming right up -- Aaron.

BROWN: It is indeed. Thank you, Larry. That'll be coming up in a moment.

Think about this. A year ago today, the President was engaged in the second presidential debate. Life has changed for all of us, including the President of the United States. We'll see you again at 10:00. Good night.

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