(CNSNews.com) - Why do people hate you, a British reporter asked President Bush at a news conference in London on Thursday.
The same reporter asked Prime Minister Tony Blair what he would say to people who blame his appearance with a "controversial American president" for Thursday's terror attacks on British interests in Turkey.
The question, from ITV News reporter Nick Robinson, was phrased this way:
Addressing Prime Minister Tony Blair: "What do you say to people who today conclude that British people have died and been maimed as a result of you appearing here today, shoulder-to-shoulder, with a controversial American president; and Mr. President, if I could ask you, with thousands on the street...marching today here in London, a free nation, what is your conclusion as to why apparently so many free citizens fear you and even hate you?"
"I'd say freedom is beautiful, Bush responded. "It's a fantastic thing to come to a country where people are able to express their views."
Pressed on the question of why people hate him "in such numbers," Bush said he doesn't know that they do hate him.
"I fully understand that people don't agree with war," President Bush said. "I hope they agree with peace and freedom and liberty. I hope they care deeply about the fact that when we find suffering and torture and mass graves, we weep for the citizens that are being brutalized by tyrants.
"And finally, the prime minister and I have a solemn duty to protect our people. And that's exactly what I intend to do - as the president of the United States, protect the people of my country."
Prime Minister Tony Blair urged protestors to "listen to our case as well."
He said there is something "truly bizarre" about a situation where a successful effort to depose the dreadful Taliban and the evil Saddam could meet with such disagreement from people who may not have considered what the world would be like if those regimes were still in power.
Blair also refuted reporter Nick Robinson's contention that Bush and Blair "caused" Thursday's terrorist attacks.
"What has caused the terrorist attack today in Turkey is not the President of the United States; is not the alliance between America and Britain - what is responsible for that terrorist attack is terrorism...the terrorists."
The responsibility rests squarely rests with those who are killing innocent people, Blair said. The proper response is to say, "We are going to defeat you and we are not going to back down or flinch at all from this struggle..."
Said Blair, "It's defeat them or be defeated by them, and that's what we're going to do."