In an NBC News exclusive, Brian Williams interviewed the man in charge in Iraq, interim Prime Minister Ayad Allawi. They met at mid-day when it was already clear that the vote was going well. Allawi was composed and secure, leading a nation that has been neither of late. He was particularly proud of the indelible purple ink on the tip of his index finger. Today, in this country, that meant you had voted.
Brian Williams: What does this [ink-stained finger] mean to you?
Interim Prime Minister Ayad Allawi: This means that for me, after 30 years of fighting tyranny to bring democracy to Iraq, I have succeeded. And Iraqi people and Iraq is on the way and route to recovery.
Williams: Is there a part of you that wishes this was a permanent ink?
Allawi:It is going to be permanent -- the success of the election and doing the election on time and moving forward. This is going to remain forever.
Allawi was not only a voter today, he remained a candidate, too -- for now, the interim prime minister. Here in Iraq, it is a dangerous business. It makes him a very visible target.
Williams: Do you have fear?
Allawi: Of course, as any human being I do have fear, but my aspirations and desire to fulfill the objectives to bring my country back to normal surpasses the fear.
He has those aspirations, desire and something even more personal.
Williams: Do you have anything either something that you carry or something in your mind that helps you get through each day and each challenge? Is there anything?
Allawi: Not really—with the exception of my worry beads.
Williams: Worry beads?
Williams: The prime minister carries worry beads?
Allawi: I used to be a heavy smoker. I gave it up about three years ago and I substitute this for worry beads.
Perhaps the toughest question of all -- was this chance for democracy worth the cost in dollars and lives?
Williams: Many American people are cheering for you.
Allawi: Thank you very much.
Williams: -- are supporting you.
Williams: To those who are wondering why all of the money, all of the young lives, what is your message?
Allawi: All the blood which has been spilled, really was spilled, not in vain, but it was all for a very good cause. Without the help of the Untied States we would not have been able to achieve what we have achieved.