Four Republicans are challenging Bartlett in the Feb. 12 primary. Five Democrats also are running.
A big campaign issue, Bartlett said, is earmarks, or funding for projects in legislators' districts.
Bartlett said he's proud to post his earmarks online, which some members of Congress refuse to do. He called the earmarking system "a scandal" that needs to be "cleaned up."
If accused of acting in lockstep with President Bush, Bartlett points to his objection to the president's initial handling of the Iraq war.
He said he supported having Bush get a United Nations resolution first. If that failed, the president would return to Congress for a declaration of war.
However, "I didn't think he worked very hard to get a U.N. resolution," Bartlett said.
Bartlett said he, too, believed Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, but "I still didn't see why we should go in unilaterally."
But, "once we were committed there, the whole dynamic changed," he said. "We couldn't afford to lose."
Bush's military "surge" in Iraq seems to be working, so Americans should take a "wait-and-see" approach.
He said the withdrawal of U.S. troops should be tied to an "events table," with specific goals that every American can monitor, rather than a timetable.
One of Bartlett's pet causes is the growing scarcity of fossil fuels. He advocates a focus like the Manhattan Project, the World War II effort to build an atomic bomb.
"I see this as reinvigorating America," he said. "Properly challenged, we can rise to the occasion."
He opposes stem-cell research that uses human embryos.
He has called for the U.S. to study the possibility of an electromagnetic pulse attack on its electrical systems.
Immigration is a burning issue, Bartlett said, because Americans object to having a "porous" border. He said he has voted against amnesty for illegal aliens and supports having a fence along the border.
His stance on the death penalty and abortion are the same: "I have a true reverence for life," he said. "It's hard for me to be pro-life and pro-death at the same time."
The death penalty, he said, "is the most premeditated killing in the world .... I think it coarsens our society."
Asked about seeking re-election at age 81, Bartlett said, "I chose my parents very well." Both of his parents died in their 90s; other relatives lived even longer.
Bartlett, who would be the second oldest House member, described himself as "undiminished from what I was at 50 years old."
"The person who will tell me when it's time (to retire)," he said, "is my wife."