From a 2000 PBS interview with Clay Johnson III, prep school and college roommate of George W. Bush and a front runner to replace the enormously competent Michael Chertoff as head of the fabulously efficient Department of Homeland Security:
When he decided to run for governor, I don’t think he had any thought at all about running for president. He wanted to be a real good governor. When he decided I think it was towards the end of his first term as governor, that they were doing some polls about likely presidential candidates four years hence and I was in the room when Karen Hughes as communication director came in and said, “Governor, you’re not going to believe this. They’ve got this poll out about likely presidential candidates and you’re in the lead. You’re the favored candidate for four years from now.” And there was just total disbelief and it appeared to me that the thought had never entered his mind until there started to be some feedback from the populace that they wanted George W. Bush to run for president.
So as it became more and more real and more and more a possibility and more and more plans being made to run or not, a lot of people tried to talk him out of it. Very close personal friends of his and Laura’s tried to talk him out of this. And one woman in particular, a good friend of theirs for many years, just pleaded with him not to run. It would so irrevocably change their lives that she just asked them please not to run. “Don’t do this to yourself.” And his response to her was, “Look, I share your concern. But if I don’t run, who else is there? If not me, who? Who do we want-- Who are we going to be pleased with as our next president? We-- I would love to think that there’s somebody else out there that we could all get behind, but I don’t know who that person is.” (Ed. note: Al Gore?)
My take on that was that there is this calling, this sense of there’s a need there and I, George W. Bush, have some of what it takes to satisfy that need. He has no misconceptions about Washington is equal to Austin. That what he has been so successful at working with people here in Austin, he can be equally successful in Washington. But I guarantee you that he has a sense that he can be much more successful than some recent presidents have been and bring some of that bipartisan relationship and a focus on end results and depoliticization of it. But I think he’s fully aware of what the differences are between Washington and Austin. And believes that much of what-- In the same sense that he has brought great, positive change and a great track record to Texas, he can bring similar progress and change and accomplishment for the country. Not for him, but for the country.
And does not believe that there’s anybody else out there that could do that in his absence. (Ed. note: Dick Cheney?)