Bush vows no let up in Iraq or war on terror
Bolstered by a hard-fought election victory, President George W. Bush says the United States will vigorously pursue wars in Iraq and against terror and will not retreat from trying to spread democracy through the Middle East.
"I understand, in certain capitals and certain countries, those decisions were not popular," Bush said at his first post-election news conference on Thursday. But he was unapologetic about the course he has set and said he would not back down.
Before flying to his retreat at Camp David to rest after the grueling campaign, Bush took congratulatory calls from world leaders and met with his Cabinet to discuss his second term.
He said he has not made any decisions about personnel changes, although some turnover is inevitable in his Cabinet and White House staff. The first job to change hands could be attorney general, since John Ashcroft might leave even before the second term begins, senior aides said on Thursday.
Others expected to leave, although maybe not immediately, include secretary of state Colin Powell, health and human services secretary Tommy Thompson and transportation secretary Norman Mineta.
As US forces in Iraq mobilise for an all-out offensive in Fallujah and other Sunni militant strongholds, the president refused to say how much the war would cost or whether he planned to increase or cut troop strengths.