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. Ben in San Diego

    George~ pretty much everything you did as president was a mistake... go on... get out of here.

    January 12, 2009 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  2. Barb

    finally he sounds like he's making sense! I'm betting he's just as relieved to be getting out as the rest of us!

    January 12, 2009 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  3. katiec

    If this man thinks these are the only mistakes he has made he is totally hiding from reality.
    He and his party have brought our country to its knees with their diasterous policies, executive privileges etc. They have turned the rest of the world against us with their arrogance and total disregard for the welfare of our country and our world. Sorry, Bush, think you and your supporters will go down in history as the worst our country has ever been victimized with.

    January 12, 2009 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  4. tess

    this is the bush i voted for twice. about time he told that pack of rats known as the press corp exactly what the president has on him every day of the week every minute of the day – the hell of it is he is also responsible for their safety too and they fail to consider that fact! what a bunch of judgemental nothings – they have been shown up for the partisan "reporters" they are and the picture is not very pretty. god bless the president and laura and hope they find peace and joy back in texas. history will prove that he was one of the five top leaders in our time of war and turmoil – i hope the rat pack is around to have to eat crow!

    January 12, 2009 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  5. Joe in DE

    Bush still does not understand the mistakes he made. I hope he can find some redeeming tasks a s a ex-Presiudent.

    January 12, 2009 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  6. Bubba

    THAT'S what he thought was a mistake? The carrier photo-op? How about all his Iraq war and his pet goat? How about letting Cheney and Halliburton rob us blind and pushing gas up to four-fifty per? Dubya, how's it feel to be thick as a brick?

    January 12, 2009 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  7. Proud American

    8 more days and who cares.

    January 12, 2009 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  8. S Callahan

    Your right about Katrina...but your right hand man needed a spanking for not have his organization in order to appropriately respond.

    The ball is now in PE Obama's court...get the letter going...

    January 12, 2009 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  9. james

    He forgot one little mistake. 4000+ american solders and countless Iraqi deaths because of his stupid decision.

    January 12, 2009 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  10. dennis_k

    This disaster of a president never has and never will fully confess to all of his mistakes and crimes. To pick a trivial one, the White House has always officially claimed that the "Mission Accomplished" banner was the work of the aircraft carrier, not them. So why is Bush taking responsibility for it now? As is usually the case with chronic liars, they cannot keep their lies straight. Good f-ing riddance!

    January 12, 2009 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  11. LUISA FROM NYC NOW IN MD

    OKAY, FINE. GOOD-BYE, BON VOYAGE, ADIOS....JUST
    HURRY UP AND LEAVE ALREADY.

    January 12, 2009 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  12. Jeff Brown

    Earth to W... If you were this contrite when you had the power to change things instead of being arrogant, out of touch and pig headed, your legacy might have been a good one. How sad!

    January 12, 2009 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  13. Joanna

    You were commander and chief, you should of been the uniter, dubya. Instead, you were the divider.

    January 12, 2009 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  14. Steve in Louisville

    Bush and Cheney were what was out of control, and his biggest mistake was to commit war crimes. (Though that leads a lengthy list of things he still won't own up to.)

    He should be turned over to the world court for prosecution.

    January 12, 2009 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
  15. Sawber

    History is going to be kind to Bush. He made minor misteps, but the big decisions were right.

    Obama is just now realizing what he has gotten himself into.

    Now that he realizes the true situation, he thinks GITMO policies aren't all that bad.

    He wants to turn medical records electronic. But that will force us to export a lot of jobs since we don't have near enough qualified Americans to do the job.

    January 12, 2009 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
  16. K. Owe

    January 20th cannot get here fast enough!

    January 12, 2009 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
  17. Mari

    I watched the press conference this morning, and was shocked at W.'s bravado and at other times his honesty. He seemed to be simultaneously defending himself and confessing to his errors! My husband and I looked at each other and said, "THANK GOD FOR OBAMA"!

    I do give George W. Bush credit for his gracious comments about Barack H. Obama. He seemed sincere in his awe of the historical moment he (we) are living.

    Although, I believe Bush to be the worst president ever! I do hope that he and Laura will have peace and joy in their retirement. As a Christian it is wrong to hold a grudge against anyone....... even the war criminal Bush!

    January 12, 2009 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
  18. Brett the nurse.

    I guess admitting that following the advice of The Project for The New American Century was a horrible mistake and is the real reason why our economy is in shambles would be too much to ask for. It all cascades back to Iraq. Billions of wasted dollars and thousands of lost lives solved nothing. The war pushed oil prices through the roof. The lack of discretionary money of the American consumer on top of the precarious real estate crisis was enough to cascade us to where we are now. Thanks for the last 8 years Bush!! I guess you will be expecting the Medal of Freedom next since every other person that screwed up got one from you.

    January 12, 2009 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  19. AEK

    I don't doubt that President Bush is concerned with the "tone" in Washington. I would add, that today the tone in politics in general is grossly disrespectful. Disagreeing with your political leaders is something we have been encouraged to do for 200+ years. Disagreeing with them and with others respectfully appears to be quite difficult for some people. I would think that many Americans and citizens in the rest of the world are disgusted with the vile, hate speak that is aired on websites and blogs every day in our country. Hate the man, disagree with his policies, but respect the office of the President.

    January 12, 2009 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  20. art

    George, your whole Presidency was a MISTAKE!!!
    Because of you, people in their 40's and 50's will be working well into their 70's or die while still making a living. Whichever comes first.
    Please leave and go away.

    January 12, 2009 10:55 am at 10:55 am |
  21. Mike

    Post what Bush said about his screaming loudmouth critics.
    Better yet, post the entire transcript. People can read that and come to their own conclusion instead of what the media cherry picks and comments on.

    January 12, 2009 10:55 am at 10:55 am |
  22. Lois

    Personally, I really do hope I never hear from you again and all your buddies. You have nothing of value to add to a thing. I don't know how any of you can sleep at night.

    January 12, 2009 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  23. Ian

    Good riddance.

    January 12, 2009 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
  24. Jerry Kelly

    Jerk. Moron. Traitor to the Constitution. War criminal.

    January 12, 2009 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
  25. John from Alabama

    Good Riddence...

    January 12, 2009 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
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