The former president was up-front about his battle with alcohol, recalling a night when he was inebriated at a dinner party and asked a dinner guest, "What is sex like after 50?" Bush said he stopped drinking after he reached the age of 40 and, when pressed by Lauer, said he never once re-started during all of his presidency.

“Never once, not a sip. I haven’t had a sip of alcohol since 1986. I was through,” Bush said.

As for his views on abortion, Bush said his mother once showed him a fetus that resulted from her pregnancy miscarrying, and that — “no question” — formed his pro-life point of view.


On his relationship with his father, former President George H.W. Bush, Bush said it was solidified by his 2000 election, and that he was secure in his confidence that his family was behind him, even as the Florida ballot controversy was “overwhelmed by the palpable anger and sense of revenge.”

One of the most controversial aspects of the war on terror was the use of waterboarding on detainees. Bush noted that only three American captives were “waterboarded" and said those actions "saved lives."

“My job was to protect America, and I did," he said. "I’m not going to debate the issue, Matt. All I ask is that people read the book, and they can make the same decision I made.”

Bush said there was “no question” his “Mission Accomplished” speech on a U.S. aircraft carrier in 2003 was “a mistake,” but he resisted Laurer's suggestion that the U.S. rushed into war against Iraq. Bush said he himself resisted the idea of invading Iraq until the last possible moment.

His response to Hurricane Katrina was one of the worst moments of his presidency, Bush said, but he said it was his fault for arriving in Baton Rouge, not New Orleans, and allowing a picture to be taken of him that showed him watching the destruction while up in the plane and subsequently praising Federal Emergency Management Agency Director Mike Brown.

“The only thing I can tell you is, you’re right,” Bush told Lauer. “As president, sometimes your intentions get overruled by perception, and my intention was to say to somebody who’s working hard, ‘Keep working hard.’ And it turns out that those words became a club for someone who’s saying, ‘Well, this guy’s out of touch.’ ”