Transcript: The President's Interview with Print Media Columnists
The frustration is that the definition of success has now gotten to be, how many innocent people are dying? And if there's a lot dying, it means the enemy is winning. That doesn't mean they're winning. It means they're the question is really, how tough are the Iraqis? And it seems like to me they're unbelievably resilient. And I think say they are because they want to succeed.
But I'll think about it. I'll run it back up the flag pole. (Laughter. )
Q: You said protecting the country is the number one issue. Some of us were talking the Karl Rove yesterday, and he said, the NRCC believes immigration is a better issue than national security. How does this
THE PRESIDENT: That's fine. Look, you talk to the political I'm just going to tell you what the President thinks.
Q: But you're going out campaigning.
THE PRESIDENT: I'm campaigning like mad, and I'm looking at people in the eye and say, you better have a government that does everything in its power to protect you from attack because that's what I believe. That's what I'm living. And you're right here in the office where I get briefed every morning and it's on my mind. And I'm telling you it's on my mind, and I can't keep it off my mind. I was affected deeply by the attacks of September the 11th. It became clear to me that day that we were at war. And I didn't need a consultant or a guru or anything to tell me that. I know we're at war.
And we're still at war, and these guys want to kill. And again, my frame of mind is this: We will press and press and press to protect ourselves. And this stuff about how Iraq is causing the enemy whatever excuse they need, they have made up their mind to attack, and they grab on to things to kind of justify. But if it's not Iraq, it's Israel. If it's not Israel, it's the Crusades. If it's not the Crusades, it is the cartoon. I'm not kidding you. I'm not kidding you. (Laughter. )They are cold-blooded killers.
Q: If it's not the Crusades, it's the cartoon that's a good slogan.
THE PRESIDENT: No, and I'm serious about this. I haven't talked Karl says that the NRCC thinks that. Well, I don't know who I don't know who he's talking to.
Q: Well, they're obviously trying to win the House.
THE PRESIDENT: Right.
Q: you're going to sign the defense bill tomorrow?
THE PRESIDENT: Yes, tomorrow morning. It's a big issue, but it's an issue that we've been living with. And it's an issue that's come to a head, but it's come to a head 10 years ago, too. This war on terror is we didn't recognize it in '93 on the first World Trade bombing, but we recognize it now. And I will just tell you this, that if this country lets down its guard, it will be a fatal mistake. And so I make it an issue let me put it to you that way then. It's on my mind. And that's the way I like to lead.