January 12th, 2009
10:10 AM ET
11 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. lovable liberal

    What a steaming pile of lame excuses!

    The good news: He doesn't plan to take a public role.

    January 12, 2009 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  2. francine, Shannon

    I am not American but as someone looking in on Bush's presidency I would like to correct the outgoing pres. He said that he made mistakes...correction: His entire tenure as the president was a mistake. That's how the world saw it and judging from the polls so did 70 some percent of Americans. I truly do not understand how anyone, Democrats or Republicans could have approved of this president.

    January 12, 2009 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  3. Anne

    How sad. If the comments posted here reflect anything, it is what the Bush Presidency has done best: bring out the hatred in America and divide us even further amongst ourselves.

    I am saddened by the lack of respect for each other. You respect others as much as you respect yourself. It says a great deal about our country and the leadership we have been under.

    A person with no conscience never makes mistakes.

    January 12, 2009 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  4. Matt

    @ Texas2

    The economy was sinking prior to the Dems having congrol over Congress. Moreover, since 2006, the Republicans have filibustered like it's going out of style and Bush set a record for vetoes. Lying about who is at fault for Congress going stagnant for the past 2 years won't get you anywhere. Check the Nov. 4th scoreboard to remind yourself that the people did not believ the Republican lies and transparent political games. It's time for yrou ilk to get a new message.

    January 12, 2009 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  5. Donna

    The character of a good leader is one who makes a decision and modifies it as circumstances and new information become evident. Mr. Bushes' hard-headedness is the plumb line on which history will judge him. It is too bad that he surrounded himself with power hungry men, who appeared, in my opinion, to be out of touch with America and that he did not listen to the advice of seasoned men, like James Baker and Colin Powell, who were balanced and aware. Because of this, he will be judged in the negative.

    January 12, 2009 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |
  6. Kevin A

    The Bush supporters are just too much. If Obama fails, it will be his fault. If he succeeds, it will be the actions of Bush trickling down. You people can't see the forest for the trees. The man is a FAILURE at EVERYTHING he has ever done. His 8 years in the White House are no different! Miserable Failure!

    January 12, 2009 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |
  7. arice11

    Bush does not control the weather. When nature pelts a city built right next to an ocean, it's not the president's fault.
    How dare you blame a man for an event that can't be controlled by humans.
    We should respect the office of the President. But that doesn't mean we have to kiss up to his politics.
    Now Obama! There is someone who people are kissing up to.

    January 12, 2009 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |
  8. Chris

    Republicans are so funny with the foolishness that they believe....what would they do if Rush Limbaugh weren't there to tell them how to think?

    Very few of them seem to have a clue about the real world.

    January 12, 2009 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |
  9. Donna

    A day late and a dollar short, doncha think?

    January 12, 2009 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  10. suzi badrena

    Bush sees the world through the eyes of a 6 year old, completely self centered everything according to how things affect him..fine for a 6 year old, but pretty horrific for a president, and look at the results!

    He should be tried for war crimes along with Cheney and Rumsfeld by a world court and then we could look ahead with some degree of self respect..

    January 12, 2009 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  11. Virginia

    I, for one (and in the minority for sure) am proud of Mr. Bush. I felt that he followed his heart, his Lord, and his gut. We need more of that in America. Yes, I was disappointed that we went to war in Iraq, and hated to see it come. But it has and now we must deal with it, as we have for the last 5+ years. But things could be worse, like that war being brought to us on our homeland, which is just what al-qadea (sp?) wanted. But bin Laden didn't get it, did he? No! Because Mr. Bush kept us safe, and I venture to say that before long, all of the terrorists will be lined up at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue begging for a chance to negotiate with us. NO to TERRORISTS and God help us all for the next four years. We will need it and I will heed it!

    God bless you George and Laura, and thank you for what you have done!

    January 12, 2009 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  12. Glenda

    I want to thank President Bush and his wife Laura for their service to our country. They are true patriots.

    January 12, 2009 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  13. William, from Cali!

    We all have made mistakes...Own-up to them and move on! Thank You! Mr. President I wish you all the best and may God, always bless America! and keep her safe!

    January 12, 2009 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
  14. patriotson

    If I jailed everyone I didn't agree with, then I would have free reign of this country. Usually you need to commit a crime to be put in jail, thankfully.

    This country's constitution started getting walked on with Bush, and is now continuing into the Obama Regime. The constitution will have the new role of congressional toilet paper with liberals controlling everything. Welcome to the United States of Socialism America. If you voted for Bush or Obama, you are responsible.

    January 12, 2009 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  15. jenn

    If only Bush had admitted his mistakes while he still had the power to do something about them! That is Bush's biggest flaw–his inability to admit when he was wrong and change direction. So much sorrow could have been avoided if only Bush had been willing to say "I'm sorry, I was wrong, let's try something else."

    I am certain, though, that the Bush apologists ranting and raving on this thread will continually denounce Obama for admitting mistakes and engaging in course-correcting. Some people never learn.

    January 12, 2009 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  16. Here in AZ

    Somehow, a bit too late and way too little. But it's better than anything we will ever get from Cheney.

    January 12, 2009 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  17. Someday a Blue ND

    As much as I despise him, and think he's looking to make himself look good in the eyes of history, I will say I agree about him not going to New Orleans. It wouldn't have just been secret service, it would have been a lot of local security too. He probably could have issued a statement to that effect when it was happening, though.

    January 12, 2009 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  18. Jim Steele

    Gee, George. I guess what you're trying to say is that if everyone in Washington has simply done what you asked and never questioned you, the tone would have changed and everything would have been fine. I forgot that as Americans, we're all supposed to shut up and do exactly as we're told.

    January 12, 2009 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  19. Confused

    I a confused by this whole Bush kept us safe thing. During the Clinton years there was 1 attack on american soil and a couple abroad. During the Bush years there was a worse attack at here, a dozen abroad, and 2 full scale conflicts that lost more more people than 9/11. The only thing protected during the Bush years was Iraq oil and what did we get for help and security, oil prices sky rocketed. I am confused.What did Bush protect us from?

    January 12, 2009 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  20. P. Mathew

    "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."

    What hot air. Bush's detrimental rhetoric and the "you're either with us or against us" mentality are what divided America and ruined good relationships with the rest of the world.

    January 12, 2009 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  21. MikQuick

    There is not enough space on any server or enough ink in the world to list all of Bush's mistakes. He got in, facilitated making money for his companies and for his buddies – with that smirk on his face the whole time and now it's thankfully over. How does your bank account balance/portfilio worth compare to 8 years ago? I'd like to see a before and after comparison for Bush's worth/holdings, Cheney's worth/holdings – matched against a comparison for same of an ordinary american.This was 8 years of manipulation for the financial benefit of Bush and his cronies. He was just such a buffoon that the the comedy of it all was distracting. No defense necessary here – we (at least I) don't want to hear anymore of it. A decent man would simply apologize for the whole darn thing...think that'll happen?

    January 12, 2009 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  22. Nisha

    What a shame ?

    January 12, 2009 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  23. Jack in Florida

    To little to late.........................just go away

    January 12, 2009 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  24. Marissa from Illinois

    Jim Colbert. Yes There were no Further Attacks on American soil after 9.11 But you seem to forget George BUSH was the president on 9.11 and had been for 9 months. 9./11 happened UNDER HIS WATCH

    January 12, 2009 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  25. AnaB


    Soon Nobama will take over and we will all be saved. You think its bad now. Wait to see what its like in the next 4 years


    I love how people like you can see into the future. I'm not a fan of Bush or his administration, but I respect the office of President because that is what I was taught. I voted for Obama and I stand by my vote. I don't think he is any more than a man, not a messiah, not a celebrity but a man who got me excited for probably the first time in my life about politics. I did my research during the campaigns, didn't just go by what I was told or saw on blogs or TV. I guess I will never understand such much hatred on these kinds of blogs. I have learned that some people are not happy unless they have something to complain about.

    January 12, 2009 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
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