Video: Bush meets the media

msnbc.com

President Bush held a news conference Thursday in the White House briefing room.  This is a transcript of his opening statement.

I thank you all very much. Look forward to answering some of your questions here in a minute.

I'm also looking forward to going up to Capitol Hill next Tuesday to give my State of the Union address. I thought it probably best not to practice my speech in front of you here, so you'll pay attention to it when I deliver it. But I do want to give you some thoughts about what I'm thinking about.

First, I recognize that we live in a momentous time.

And for those of you watching, we seem to have a mechanical flaw.

Are you wearing your helmets?

Exactly.

I'll take it up with the first lady.

I'm going to remind people we live in historic times. And that we have a chance to make decisions today that will help shape the direction of events for years to come.

I'm going to continue to talk about an optimistic agenda that will keep -- that will remind folks we've got a responsibility to lead. We've got a responsibility to lead to promote freedom and a responsibility to continue to put policies in place that will let us be a leader when it comes to the economy and the world.

Now, I recognize this is an election year, but I believe that we can work together to achieve results. In other words, I think we can set aside the partisanship that inevitably will come with an election year and get some stuff done. And that's what I'm going to call Congress to do.

We've got much work together to protect our nation's security. I'm going to continue to do everything within my authority to protect the American people.

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We're going to stay on the offense in the war against terror. We'll hunt down the enemies in Afghanistan and Iraq and elsewhere. We'll continue our terrorist surveillance program against Al Qaida.

Congress must reauthorize the Patriot Act so that our law enforcement and intelligence and homeland security officers have the tools they need to rat out the terrorists, terrorists who could be planning and plotting within our borders.

And we will do all this and at the same time protect the civil liberties of our people.

We're going to continue to lead the cause of freedom in the world. The only way to defeat a dark ideology is through the hopeful vision of human liberty.

Here at home we also -- we've got great opportunities. And to seize those opportunities, we have got to lead.

Our economy is growing. It is strong. This economy's created millions of new jobs. Yet it's an economy that is changing rapidly.

And we live in a competitive world. And so policies must be put in place to recognize the competition of the global economy and prepare our people to be able to continue to compete so America can continue to lead.

Of course we'll talk about fiscal policy in my State of the Union, talking about to the Congress to be wise in how they spend the money and to makes the tax cuts permanent.

I will talk about initiatives to make sure health care and education and energy recognizes the realities of the world that we live in today, and anticipates the problems of the world tomorrow so that we can remain competitive.

I will talk about the values that are important for our country. And remind people we show the character and compassion of America by taking focused action to confront disease and help devastated areas of our country that have been - areas that have been devastated by natural disasters and make sure that medical research is conducted in a manner that recognizes the dignity of every human life.

I look forward to the speech, I really do, as you can imagine it is an interesting experience to walk out there -- and not only talk to members of congress, but as importantly talk to the American people.

I am also looking forward to the Senate finishing its business on the confirmation on Sam Alito. He is a man of character and a man of integrity. He understands that the role of a judge is to interpret the law. And he understands that the role of a judge is not to advance a personal or political agenda.

Yesterday I had an interesting experience standing with his law clerks and I started reading the notes that or course had been prepared for me the first person said he’s a Democrat and he supports Alito and the second person was person who voted green,  who supported Alito. The third, a left leaning women democrat who supported Alito, the fourth person I talked about was somebody working the John Kerry campaign who is supporting Alito.  I was wondering, “Where are those Republican clerks?”

My point is is that he has broad support from people that know him – people from both political parties.  He is a decent man who’s got a lot of experience and he deserves an up or down vote on the floor of the Senate. 

I was interested in Edwin Bell’s comments.  He’s the governor or Pennsylvania.  He is the former chairman of the Democratic National Committee.  He did not like where the debate was headed.  He believed that Samuel Alito should be confirmed and so do I.

The Senate needs to give him an up or down vote as quickly as possible.  Listen, thank you all for giving me a chance to share some thoughts with you. I would be glad to answer some questions.

Reuters and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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