Excerpts from the second Presidential debate:
BUSH: “I remember sitting in the White House looking at those generals, saying, ‘Do you have what you need in this war? Do you have what it takes?’
I remember going down to the basement of the White House the day we committed our troops as last resort, looking at Tommy Franks and the generals on the ground, asking them, ‘Do we have the right plan with the right troop level?’
And they looked me in the eye and said, ‘Yes, sir, Mr. President.’ Of course, I listen to our generals. That’s what a president does. A president sets the strategy and relies upon good military people to execute that strategy. ”
GRABEL: “President Bush, during the last four years, you have made thousands of decisions that have affected millions of lives. Please give three instances in which you came to realize you had made a wrong decision, and what you did to correct it. Thank you.”
BUSH: “I have made a lot of decisions, and some of them little, like appointments to boards you never heard of, and some of them big.
“And in a war, there’s a lot of — there’s a lot of tactical decisions that historians will look back and say: He shouldn’t have done that. He shouldn’t have made that decision. And I’ll take responsibility for them. I’m human.
“But on the big questions, about whether or not we should have gone into Afghanistan, the big question about whether we should have removed somebody in Iraq, I’ll stand by those decisions, because I think they’re right.
“That’s really what you’re — when they ask about the mistakes, that’s what they’re talking about. They’re trying to say, ‘Did you make a mistake going into Iraq?’ And the answer is, ‘Absolutely not.’ It was the right decision.
“The Duelfer report confirmed that decision today, because what Saddam Hussein was doing was trying to get rid of sanctions so he could reconstitute a weapons program. And the biggest threat facing America is terrorists with weapons of mass destruction.
“We knew he hated us. We knew he’d been — invaded other countries. We knew he tortured his own people.
“On the tax cut, it’s a big decision. I did the right decision. Our recession was one of the shallowest in modern history.
“Now, you asked what mistakes. I made some mistakes in appointing people, but I’m not going to name them. I don’t want to hurt their feelings on national TV.”
BUSH: “But history will look back, and I’m fully prepared to accept any mistakes that history judges to my administration, because the president makes the decisions, the president has to take the responsibility. “