For the first time in Oprah Show history, Oprah is sitting down with presidential candidates for one-on-one interviews. On September 19, 2000, the race is heating up and the front-runners, Texas Gov. George W. Bush and Vice President Al Gore, are neck and neck.
A week earlier, Oprah spoke with Vice President Gore, the Democratic presidential candidate. Now it's time for Gov. Bush, the Republican candidate, to let his voice be heard.
"I'm running against a formidable opponent," Gov. Bush says. "I know that it's going to be a tough race. I think I'm going to win when it's all said and done, but it's going to be close—and it's good for the country to have a close race."
Viewers have written in from across the country with their questions for Gov. Bush.
"As I said last week when I interviewed Vice President Al Gore, I stayed away from interviewing politicians for 15 years because I thought it would be really difficult to break through the wall of sound bites and what appeared to be practiced answers," Oprah says. "So my hope again today is to ask questions that will help reveal the real man so you can decide who feels like the right candidate for you."
How does Gov. Bush define himself?
"As a dad, as a husband, as a patriot—somebody who loves America. I've been an entrepreneur; I've been a governor—but I'd like to be defined by my heart. I want people to know I care a lot about our fellow citizens."
What is your definition of a leader?
"A leader is somebody who's not afraid to take positions. A leader is somebody who's willing to bring people together to get things done. That's what I've done as governor of Texas. I've worked with both Republicans and Democrats to focus on public education, for example. A leader is somebody willing to make decisions based on principles, not polls or focus groups. A leader is somebody willing to share credit and to take the heat."
What is the public's largest misconception of you?
"Probably that I'm running on my daddy's name," Gov. Bush says. "But I knew why I was running, and I've got a mission. I got a vision for our state; I have a vision for our country—so I understand people are going to say that."
Have you ever had a moment of self-doubt?
"I'm sure there was self-doubt when I got shipped off to school, going from Texas up east. I got to a place called Phillips Academy Andover, in Massachusetts, where it was just a whole different world—a completely different environment from where I was raised. I can remember thinking how brilliant all of the other kids were and how hard I had to work to catch up."
What was your defining moment?
Gov. Bush says he has had two defining moments in his life: marrying Laura and the birth of their twin daughters, Barbara and Jenna.
"We wanted to have children, and we were thinking about adopting," he says. But before they could adopt a child, Laura found out she was pregnant. "It was a fantastic moment," Gov. Bush says.
The mood soon changed when Laura became ill and was diagnosed with toxemia, but Gov. Bush says she stayed strong on the way to the hospital in Dallas. "She got on the airplane, and she said, 'These babies are going to be born healthy.' She had this West Texas determination," he says. "I'm kind of tearing up about it a little bit because it was such a powerful statement by a mother who said, 'These children will come to be.'"
Gov. Bush says mom and babies were healthy in the end. "It was a defining moment because I realized that I was responsible, as was Laura responsible, for these little girls coming up in the world," he says. "That we were responsible for loving them, and teaching them to read and to surround them with compassion and care."