When asked about his failed Social Security plan, he simply said: "It didn't get done." But he defiantly defended his warrantless eavesdropping program, and baited Democrats who suggest that he broke the law.
Calling a censure resolution "needless partisanship," Mr. Bush challenged Democrats to go into the November midterm elections in opposition to eavesdropping on suspected terrorists. "They ought to stand up and say, 'The tools we're using to protect the American people should not be used,'" he said.
The president said he did not agree with former interim Iraqi Prime Minister Ayad Allawi, who told the British Broadcasting Corporation Sunday, "If this is not civil war, then God knows what civil war is."
Mr. Bush said others inside and outside Iraq think the nation has stopped short of civil war. "There are other voices coming out of Iraq, by the way, other than Mr. Allawi, who I know by the way — like. A good fellow."
"We all recognized that there is violence, that there is sectarian violence. But the way I look at the situation is the Iraqis looked and decided not to go into civil war."
However, CBS News correspondent Lara Logan reports the threat of civil war is ongoing, and that the Iraqis she talks to think that it might take just one more horrific incident to tip the scales.
More than seven in 10 Americans – majorities of both Democrats and Republicans – say a civil war is currently going on in Iraq, according to the latest, while another 13 percent think civil war is likely to break out in the near future.
Mr. Bush said he agreed to U.S. talks with Iran to underscore his point that Tehran's attempts to spread sectarian violence or provide support to Iraqi insurgents was unacceptable to the United States.
On Iraq, Mr. Bush bristled at a suggested that he wanted to wage war against that country since early in his presidency.
"I didn't want war. To assume I wanted war is just flat wrong ... with all due respect," he told a reporter. "No president wants war." To those who say otherwise, "it's simply not true," Mr. Bush said.
More than 2,300 Americans have died in three years of war in Iraq. Polls show the public's support of the war and Mr. Bush himself have dramatically declined in recent months.
Mr. Bush acknowledged that Republicans are worried about their political standing in November. "There's a certain unease as you head into an election year," he said.
Asked about former supporters who now oppose him and the war, Mr. Bush said he's trying to win them over by "talking realistically to people" about the war and its importance to the nation.
"I can understand how Americans are worried about whether or not we can win," Mr. Bush said, adding that most Americans want victory "but they're concerned about whether or not we can win."