Washington Prepares For Bush's Second Inauguration
Justin Sullivan  /  Getty Images
A worker sands the presidential seal on the inaugural parade viewing stand in front of the White House on Monday.
updated 1/18/2005 12:01:22 PM ET 2005-01-18T17:01:22

Kicking off his inaugural week, President Bush is making an elaborate public salute Tuesday to the U.S. military and, behind closed doors, lavish thank-yous to his biggest donors and supporters.

Bush also granted a round of television interviews in which he acknowledged that four more years isn't a lot of time to accomplish his ambitious legislative agenda but said that he hopes Republicans and Democrats can unite now that all of his campaigns are behind him.

"The good news is I'm not running again, so maybe politics won't creep in quite as fast," he told CBS. "We got to get moving and get some things done before — before people kind of write me off."

After practicing his 17-minute inaugural address in the family theater of the White House, Bush planned a series of events into Tuesday evening, including a "Saluting Those Who Serve" event held in an enormous sports arena in downtown Washington and piped to troops stationed in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Among those attending would be soldiers still recuperating at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington from wounds suffered in Iraq, White House press secretary Scott McClellan said.

Bush aides hoped the placement of the military event on the first day of this week's inaugural festivities would dampen criticism of the weeklong, expensive ceremonies as inappropriate in a time of war, record deficits and great suffering in the Indian Ocean region.

"It will be a live entertainment production to honor our men and women in the military and it will highlight the history of each service branch and how it promoted freedom and democracy throughout the world," McClellan said. "He can think of no better way to kick off the inauguration celebration than by giving thanks for our freedom to those who make it possible."

Celebration of ‘peaceful transfer of power’
In his television interviews, Bush said he doesn't agree with critics who say all the inauguration pomp is excessive. "I've never been much of a dancer, and the idea of going to 11 balls might be viewed as excessive," he joked on CBS News.

Bush said it's important to celebrate a "peaceful transfer of power" and that he suspects inaugural guests have been generous in donating to tsunami victims. "You can be equally concerned about our troops in Iraq and those who suffered at the tsunamis with celebrating democracy," he said.

Bush also said he has "a big agenda in mind," which includes his campaign promises to overhaul Social Security and the legal liability system; improve the tax code, school standards and the budget process; and make health care accessible to more Americans.

Bush said unity across party lines will be the most important message in his inaugural address on Thursday.

"I have a responsibility to try to unite this country to achieve big things for all Americans," Bush told ABC News. "I will say that in my inaugural address. I'm looking forward to the challenge."

Also on Tuesday, Bush was speaking at a party for young Republicans attending the inauguration to "highlight the importance of volunteerism and community service" and encourage "youth in America to participate in community service," McClellan said.

He also planned brief remarks of thanks at two private receptions for supporters — one for Republican National Committee members and the other hosted by Jeanne Johnson Phillips, chairwoman of Bush's inaugural committee.

Copyright 2005 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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