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Despite polls, Bush says he has 'capital'

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President Bush told ABC's Elizabeth Vargas on Tuesday he wasn't concerned about ratings.

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George W. Bush
Dick Cheney
Elizabeth Vargas

(CNN) -- President Bush said in a Tuesday interview that he wasn't concerned about his low approval ratings, and he discussed how he told Vice President Dick Cheney, who was shaken by his hunting accident earlier this month, to "share it with the American people."

"If I worried about polls, I wouldn't be doing my job," Bush told ABC's Elizabeth Vargas in the interview, which aired on "World News Tonight."

The president's approval rating dropped to 34 percent in a CBS News poll released Monday. CNN/USA Today/Gallup polls taken since October have put his approval ratings in the high 30s to mid-40s. (Watch what's contributing to the drop in his support -- 2:33)

"I fully understand that when you do hard things, it creates consternation at times," Bush said. "I've been up in the polls, and I've been down in the polls -- it's just part of life in the modern era. I think the American people -- I know the American people want somebody to stand on principle, make decisions and stand by them and lead this world toward a more peaceful tomorrow, and I strongly believe we're doing that. And I enjoy it. It's a fantastic opportunity."

He also said he feels he has "ample capital" despite his sagging polls.

The president also defended Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, who has faced criticism -- and calls for his resignation -- over the federal government's response to Hurricane Katrina.

"He's doing a fine job," Bush said. "I also know he's willing to accept criticism and respond." Bush added that he didn't think Chertoff would try to resign.

Among other topics, Vargas asked Bush how Cheney is doing in the wake of his hunting accident, in which the vice president accidentally shot a friend and hunting partner.

"He was shaken," Bush said, adding that he noticed it when Cheney visited him in the Oval Office. "I said, 'Dick, this got you, didn't it?' And he said, 'It sure did.' I said, 'Well, if you feel like it, you ought to share it with the American people.' "

He told Vargas he hopes that his presidency, in retrospect, will be viewed as an "agent for peace."

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