The comments were part of an interview with ABC’s “Nightline” that aired Monday and focused on the role that Bush’s Christian faith has played in his presidency.
Bush dismissed views that the U.S. is engaged in a “religious war” and that he was chosen by God to be president.
“Did God want me to become president?” he said. “I don’t know. My relationship is on a personal basis–trying to become as close to the Almighty as I can get.”
Regarding Iraq, Bush said “I did it based upon the need to protect the American people from harm.
“You can’t look at the decision to go into Iraq apart from, you know, what happened on Sept. 11. It was not a religious decision,” he said. “I don’t view this as a war of religion. I view this as a war of good, decent people of all faiths against people who murder innocent people to achieve a political objective.”
He told interviewer Cynthia McFadden that God was with him as he made those decisions but ultimately “George W. Bush has to make these decisions.”
Bush discussed the importance of prayer and reading the Bible in his everyday life and said he was able to stop drinking “shortly after reading the Bible again.”
Bush also answered questions about creation and evolution and literal interpretatation of the Bible. Bush said his belief that God created the world is not incompatible with evolution. “I happen to believe that evolution doesn’t fully explain the mystery of life,” he said.
Bush said that people often misunderstood his intentions because of their viewpoints about his faith and Christianity. “You cannot underestimate how people can misread religion and religious intent,” he added.
Watch the entire “Nightline” interview here.