But he insisted he can work in a bipartisan way with Democrats who'll control the House and possibly the Senate.
Speaking today at the White House, Mr. Bush said he had thought the GOP would "do fine" in yesterday's elections — adding, "shows what I know."
Asked how he can work with incoming House speaker Nancy Pelosi — who has called him "dangerous" — Mr. Bush said one can't hold grudges, or nothing would get done. He said Americans made it clear they want Washington to set aside bipartisan differences.
"I believe, on a lot of issues, we can find common ground," the president said. "And there's a significant difference between common ground and
abandoning principle. She's not going to abandon her principles and
I'm not going to abandon mine.
"But I do believe we have an opportunity to find some common ground to move forward on," Mr. Bush said.
Mr. Bush promised there will be no change in his mission to protect the nation. And to that end, he said he doesn't think Americans want to leave Iraq as a safe haven for al Qaeda. He said the U.S. can't accept defeat in Iraq.
He also recognized that, despite his spreading a positive message about the economy on the campaign trail, public dissatisfaction with the war in Iraq trumped most other issues going into the midterm election. "You know, it's tough in a time of war, when people see carnage on their television screens," Mr. Bush said.
The president went out of his way to reassure both U.S. troops and the Iraqi people — as well as warning enemies not to interpret the elections as a "lack of will."
When asked by a reporter what he might have done differently leading up to the election, Mr. Bush was quick to dismiss the question.
"You don't get do-overs," he said.