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There's book wisdom and there's practical wisdom. And I hope it's said that I am mindful of both and that I never lord myself over people because I have an educational background that somebody else may not have had. Listen, I appreciate a very smart person. I appreciate people who've got a great capacity to think. And I listen...a lot.
TIME: Do you ever lose sleep over anything?
BUSH: Sometimes I do, but I've been sleeping very well lately. My anxiety level is pretty darn low. Maybe it's because of what's happened the past month. One of the great things about a campaign is that it's supposed to end. And we worked our hearts out, and all of a sudden it didn't end. So it's been an interesting period of time that has helped me cope with anxiety and made me a more patient person.
TIME: What did you learn from the campaign?
BUSH: It's a humbling experience. And it's important for a President to remember that.
TIME: Give us an example.
BUSH: Well, first of all, there was the humbling aspect of constantly being the butt of everybody's jokes. The good news was I wasn't the only butt in the race. It's part of a test of focus and keeping things in perspective. I'm also a more patient person, more deliberative as a result of a long campaign. It steels somebody for the job, helps boost the confidence of the person running, when all's said and done. I'm a better person for the campaign.
TIME: What's the most important thing you learned about Al Gore?
BUSH: He's a tough competitor. I admire somebody who's relentless in his quest. I've always been a sportsman, and I came away with respect for somebody competing just as hard as I was.
TIME: If you had been in Gore's shoes, would you have been calling for the recounts?
BUSH: It's hard to tell. [Pause.] It's too hard to tell.
TIME: So you don't resent him for trying?
BUSH: I don't resent the Vice President's attempts. I did win the count and recount, in certain counties four times. There are rules and laws for a reason. But I harbor no bitterness.
TIME: Do you look forward to facing Al Gore again in 2004?
TIME: Or would you rather run against Senator Clinton?
BUSH: [Chuckles.] I look forward to my swearing-in.