January 12th, 2009
10:10 AM ET
5 years ago

Bush admits mistakes in his final news conference

Pres. Bush gave his last official press conference Monday morning.
Pres. Bush gave his last official press conference Monday morning.

WASHINGTON (CNN) - Addressing reporters in his final news conference before leaving office, President Bush admitted Monday to several mistakes during his tenure in office.

"Clearly putting a 'Mission Accomplished' (banner) on an aircraft carrier was a mistake," Bush said. "It sent the wrong message."

"Obviously," the president continued, "some of my rhetoric has been a mistake."

Bush also said that he should have pursed a comprehensive immigration overhaul after the 2004 election, instead of Social Security reform. Bush argued that Congress did not have the political willpower to tackle Social Security at the time because the program was not facing an "imminent" funding crisis.

Bush defended his widely-criticized decision not to visit Louisiana after Hurricane Katrina hit in 2005.

Bush said that if he "landed Air Force One in New Orleans or Baton Rouge" shortly after the hurricane, "law enforcement would have been pulled away from the mission." The media, Bush claimed, would have then asked how he could have
"possibly have flown Air Force One into Baton Rouge" when "police officers that
were needed to expedite traffic out of New Orleans were taken off the task to
look after you?"

Bush said he was "disappointed with the tone in Washington" and that he had "tried to do his part" to change the political environment for the better.

But "the rhetoric got out of control," Bush said.

Asked about the federal bailout, Bush said that President-elect Obama has not yet asked him to request the release of the remaining $350 billion in TARP funds.

Bush said he has no intention of doing so unless Obama asks him to do so.

Turning to the the situation in Gaza, the president said that a "sustainable cease-fire" could only be accomplished when "Hamas stops firing rockets into Israel."

Bush said that the "choice is Hamas's to make." He also stated that the best way to get a sustainable cease-fire is to "work with Egypt to stop the smuggling of arms into... Gaza.

"Countries that supply weapons to Hamas have got to stop," Bush said.

Turning to the question of his plans after leaving office, Bush said, "When I get out of here, I'm getting off the stage. I believe there ought to be one person in the klieg lights at a time."

soundoff (258 Responses)
  1. Apples for sale

    We are having a block party.Everyone is bringing some old shoes to burn.

    January 12, 2009 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  2. Stephen in Bedford, TX

    Some of the mistakes Bush did not mention – surrounding himself with hardcore partisan "yes" people like Karl Rove, Dick Cheney and his own "Rommel" Rumsfeld.
    His pre-occupation with Saddam Hussein destroyed any support that we had as a result of September 11, 2001.
    He was arrogant, reckless, full of righteous indignation toward the rest of the world and he reflected poorly on the United States of America.

    January 12, 2009 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  3. US Citizen

    MK and Chuck: You 2 (and the others that think like you) are absolute idiots!!! The president (any president) CAN NOT SEND TROOPS INTO ANY STATE–IT'S AGAINST THE LAW!!! It's up to the state governor to request troops from the president in a situation such as hurricane Katrina. The Democrat governor of Louisiana FAILED the people of Louisiana! The Democrat Mayor of New Orleans FAILED the people of New Orleans! Those are the people who should be held accountable for dead bodies floating in streets, hospitals, and homes!

    January 12, 2009 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  4. Denise

    Bush said that if he "landed Air Force One in New Orleans or Baton Rouge" shortly after the hurricane, "law enforcement would have been pulled away from the mission." The media, Bush claimed, would have then asked how he could have "possibly have flown Air Force One into Baton Rouge" when "police officers that were needed to expedite traffic out of New Orleans were taken off the task to look after you?"
    This is one of the most asinine comments to date. Are you serious landing Air Force One? What about providing food and sustenance. The people of New Orleans didn't need politics. They needed action...which was lacking. And yeah take the buses and move them out of the city and take them where. The neighboring cities didn't want them. Yet England Air Force Base was available. And many of the people are still displaced. And the only comment was on Air Force One. Are you serious? Bush is trying to save face, plain and simple.

    January 12, 2009 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  5. Robin

    Matt,

    How about the World Trade Center in 1993. Clinton.

    He was offered Osama Bin Laden, but he did not want to "tarnish" his image. I will never forgive him for that. If you lost people 9/11/01, you would understand. Until then SHUT UP!

    January 12, 2009 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  6. Logical

    Ommy January 12th, 2009 11:48 am ET

    Two words: Bush Derangement Syndrome.
    --------------------------------
    I think you meant 3 words .. LMAO

    January 12, 2009 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  7. VON BISMARK,Vienna.

    Maybe the worst mistake is the on-going war in Gaza with his explicit support.The global condemnation of this war could not send a stronger message!The repercussions will take a long time to end.
    BUSH IS WORSE THAN IDI AMIN!

    January 12, 2009 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  8. Ex-Republican

    Jim Colbert January 12th, 2009 11:37 am ET

    I just thank God a republican was in office when we were attacked. And I pray that while Obama is building windmills and solar panels, we don't get attacked again. If nothing else Bush kept the country safe after the miserable Clinton years of soft on terrorism.
    ------------------------–

    lol...it's BECAUSE that guy (dubya) was in office that we were attacked. If ANYONE else were in office, we wouldn't have been attacked. Logic of terrorist goes like this: Incompetent idiot in office, we can send four planes in and do what it took 6 aircraft carriers and 400 planes to do back in 1941. Only four planes and they achieved an arguably harder hit against us then we suffered in Pearl Harbor...how do you spell FAILURE? BUSH!

    Carter, also an idiot, atleast protected us at home better then Bush did!

    Ha ha, Bush is the epidimy of FAILURE!

    January 12, 2009 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
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