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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Bush Outlines Term's Agenda

WASHINGTON -- U.S. President George W. Bush sketched a second-term agenda Thursday that includes fighting the worldwide war on terror and seeking a tax overhaul and fundamental changes in Social Security at home.

"I've earned [political] capital in this election and I'm going to spend it for what I've told the people I'd spend it on," he said.

Bush also pledged to pursue the foreign policy that was a flashpoint in the presidential campaign and has sparked criticism by some American allies in Europe.

"There is a certain attitude in the world by some that says that it's a waste of time to try to promote free societies in parts of the world," he said, a reference to Iraq in particular. "I've heard that criticism.

"Remember, I went to London to talk about our vision of spreading freedom throughout the greater Middle East and I fully understand that that might rankle some and be viewed by some as folly."

Bush sidestepped questions about changes in his Cabinet and potential vacancies in the Supreme Court. Chief Justice William Rehnquist recently disclosed he was undergoing treatment for thyroid cancer.

"I haven't made any decisions on the Cabinet yet," Bush said. Nor about his top staff, he added. Changes are widely expected in both, and senior aides said Attorney General John Ashcroft was likely to submit his resignation before Bush's inauguration for a second term on Jan. 20.

As for the nation's highest court, he said, "There's no vacancy for the Supreme Court and I will deal with a vacancy when there is one."

Bush fielded questions after securing re-election in a campaign framed by the war in Iraq and economic issues at home. Nearly complete returns gave him 51 percent of the popular vote -- a contrast to 2000, when he lost the popular vote but won the electoral college.

For the second straight day, he pledged to reach out to those who opposed his re-election.

"The campaign over, Americans are expecting a bipartisan effort and results. I will reach out to every one who shares our goals," he said.

"Democrats want a free and peaceful world," he said at one point.

He opened his first postelection news conference by prodding the Congress that meets later this month to send him an overdue spending bill. He also called for approval of legislation to overhaul the nation's intelligence apparatus to help protect against another attack.

Turning his attention to the new Congress, where Republicans gained seats in Tuesday's elections, he said he wants legislation to reorder Social Security and the tax system fundamentally.

Bush has long advocated changes in Social Security to permit workers to invest a portion of their own payroll taxes in individual retirement accounts. The proposal is intensely controversial, and opposed by many Democrats who argue it would undermine the finances of a system originally established to provide pensions to retirees.

His second term secured, Bush asked the 55 million people who voted to oust him from office to get behind him.

In a victory speech late Wednesday, Bush said reaching his goals "will require the broad support of Americans." He asked Kerry's disappointed supporters to back him -- even though many of his proposals are anathema to those who opposed his re-election.

"I will work to earn it. I will do all I can do to deserve your trust," he said. "When we come together and work together, there is no limit to the greatness of America."