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Inside Politics

Bush: 'Americans expect results'

Says of Cabinet: 'There'll be some changes'

President Bush speaks to reporters Thursday, at his first news conference after his re-election.
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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- President Bush discussed plans and expectations for his second term on Thursday and told reporters that Americans expect a bipartisan effort.

Bush said that he would work with Republicans, Democrats and Independents on national security issues including the war in Iraq and the fight against terrorism, and to pass his domestic agenda.

He said his administration would focus on economic recovery, fixing an outdated tax code, allowing younger workers to invest their Social Security withholdings, and building on education initiatives.

"With the campaign over, Americans are expecting a bipartisan effort and results. I will reach out to everyone who shares our goals and I'm eager to start the work ahead," Bush said in a news conference at the Executive Office Building in Washington.

Bush said Thursday there would be changes in his Cabinet and senior White House staff, but said he had not yet started to think about it.

"I don't know who they'll be," he said. "It's inevitable. There'll be some changes. It happens in every administration."

Bush said that he was proud of every member of the Cabinet and his staff and that he understood that they had exhausting jobs and made many family sacrifices.

"So, obviously, in terms of those who want to stay on and who I want to stay on, I've got to make sure that it's right for their families and that they're comfortable," Bush said. "Because when they come to work here in the White House, I expect them to work as hard as they possibly can on behalf of the American people."

Earlier, Bush met with his Cabinet at the White House for the first time since August 2.

Attorney General John Ashcroft could be one of the first Cabinet members to leave the administration.

Sources close to Ashcroft told CNN on Thursday that they believe it is most likely the attorney general will submit his resignation in the near future, possibly within the next two weeks.

Private signals from Justice Department sources have indicated for some months that the attorney general has no plans to serve a second term.

Some sources have said that Ashcroft's health is a factor in his decision. The attorney general suffered from pancreatitis earlier this year.

Victory speech

On Wednesday, in his victory speech, Bush called for unity and reached out to supporters of his Democratic opponent, Sen. John Kerry.

"When we come together and work together, there is no limit to the greatness of America," Bush said.

"We have one country, one Constitution and one future that binds us. To make this nation stronger and better, I will need your support, and I will work to earn it."

Kerry called Bush on Wednesday morning to concede defeat after initially holding out hope that uncounted provisional ballots could give him an edge in Ohio, which would have given him the electoral votes needed to win the election.

"We talked about the division in our country and the need, desperate need, for unity. ...Today, I hope we can begin the healing," Kerry said in a speech Wednesday at Boston's Faneuil Hall. (No remorse in Kerry's call for unity)

President Bush praised voters for a record turnout and thanked them for "a historic victory."

Vice President Dick Cheney went a step further, calling it a "mandate."

Specter warns Bush over justices

Moderate Republican Sen. Arlen Specter cautioned Wednesday that President Bush did not earn "a mandate" in his election victory and said the president should be "mindful" of potential confirmation problems should he have the opportunity to nominate a justice to the Supreme Court. ( Specter urges caution for Bush)

"If you have a race which is decided by a percent or two, if you have a very narrowly divided country -- that does not qualify for the traditional mandate and ... to govern, we have to bring the country together," he said. "I believe that President Bush will have that very much in mind."

The youngest Supreme Court justice is 56 years old, the oldest is 83, and Chief Justice William Rehnquist, who revealed last week that he is being treated for thyroid cancer, is 80. Specter described Rehnquist as "gravely ill," but did not elaborate.

Specter told reporters he doesn't believe Bush would make issues like abortion into tests of nominees.

"We start off with the basic fact that the Democrats have filibustered and you can expect them to filibuster if the nominees are not within the broad range of acceptability," Specter said. "And I think there is a very broad range of presidential discretion. But there is a range."

Noting that Bush said during the third campaign debate that he would "not impose a litmus test" for Supreme Court nominees, Specter said he "would expect the president to be mindful of the considerations I've mentioned."

He added that he thought the chance of overturning Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion, was "unlikely."

The Senator from Pennsylvania is next in line to chair the Senate Judiciary Committee, but he stressed that it would not be certain that he would succeed Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah until the committee meets and votes in January.

Democrats work to regroup

Democrats were working to regroup after Republicans increased their numbers in both the House and the Senate.

"We have lost just about everything that we can lose," House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said Wednesday.

Pelosi expressed optimism about her party's chances in the 2006 election and said that the spotlight was on Republicans.

"They have all three houses -- the two houses and the White House. They have to produce," she said.

House Speaker Dennis Hastert called on Democrats to assist GOP efforts to fight the war on terror, create jobs and expand health insurance to more Americans. (Hastert seeks Democratic cooperation)

In the Senate, Democratic Sen. Harry Reid of Nevada was poised to replace outgoing Sen. Tom Daschle as minority leader.

"I have more than 30 votes," said Reid, the Senate's minority whip, at a news conference in Las Vegas, just hours after Daschle conceded his race in South Dakota.

Reid will apparently not face any opposition for the leader's post. Sen. Christopher Dodd of Connecticut decided not to challenge him for the job.

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