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Bush predicts 2002 will be 'a great year'

CRAWFORD, Texas (CNN) -- President Bush said Monday that the country will remain on alert in 2002, but he predicted that the coming year would be a good one, with a rebounding economy and continued military success in the war on terrorism.

"We're a nation that has gone through incredible suffering and hardship. Yet as a result of it, we're a strong nation and a united nation. And 2002, in my judgment, is going to be a great year," Bush told reporters as he visited a store in Crawford where he spoke with shoppers and grabbed a cheeseburger for lunch.

"It's going to be a great year, primarily because Americans have taken a look inward, reassessed our values, have realized that some of the basics in life are that which is most important -- love of faith, love of family -- and as a result our communities will be stronger," Bush said. "So I'm really looking forward to 2002."

The war on terrorism that began with the September 11 attacks on New York and Washington, he said, will continue on the home front. The government is reviewing a variety of policies, such as immigration and visa policies, border control, and the public health system to protect against any future attacks. Officials will continue to aggressively investigate leads, he said.

"We'll continue doing what we're doing now, which is anytime we get a lead, we're going to disrupt people," he said. "We're going to bring them in."

"The American people realize we have a new culture and that is one of being vigilant," Bush said.

The president expressed confidence that the U.S. military will capture suspected terrorist mastermind Osama bin Laden, although he conceded it's not clear where the world's most-wanted man is.

"We're going to get him and it's just a matter of when," Bush said, adding that Taliban leader Mullah Mohammed Omar also will be captured.

"It's just a matter of time," he said. "And I'm patient, and so is our military."

And for New Year's Eve? "I don't plan anything glamorous for New Year's Eve," Bush said.

The president said he would spend the evening at his ranch, where he and first lady Laura Bush planned on hosting friends for dinner. He said he expected to be in bed by 9 p.m. or 10 p.m.




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