The New York Times’ Elisabeth Bumiller on the President’s epiphany upon getting the thumbs up from 52% of registered voters that bothered to turn up.

Four years after the disputed election of 2000, Mr. Bush is reveling in winning the popular vote and feels that he can no longer be considered a one-term accident of history.

“It’s a huge validation for him,” said Thomas Rath, a New Hampshire Republican leader who is close to the Bush family. “There was always this set of issues about the first victory. This is real, this is palpable. I think it’s empowering, I think it’s a relief and I think the political options he has will be different.”

One adviser said that Mr. Bush was showing more confidence, and that it was not insignificant that he joked to reporters at his news conference that “now that I’ve got the will of the people at my back, I’m going to start enforcing a one-question rule.”

In Mr. Bush’s first term, “he had two insecurities,” said the adviser, who requested anonymity because of the sensitivity of the topic.

“There were a large number of people who did not view him as a legitimate president, and there was the specter of his father’s loss,” the adviser said. “He didn’t vocalize them, but those two things hung over him and all of his advisers.”