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. Peter

    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.

    This is the most preposterous lie: Bush and Rove spent the first six years of his presidency doing everything they could to give Republicans the advantage, from hiring policy in the Justice Dept (illegal) to using Federal offices to rally for GOP candidates (also illegal) to coining the incorrect usage 'Democrat Party' because it sounded like 'rat'. There is nothing that was too partisan for them to attempt, but now they pretend like they were trying to 'unite' the country. It is simply not true.

    January 12, 2009 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
  2. Maggie

    SOME of his rhetoric has been a mistake?????

    ALL of his rhetoric has been a mistake!

    January 12, 2009 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
  3. Don in Albuquerque

    Oh my God! After listening to this fool this morning there should be no doubt in any ones mind that he is not playing with a full deck. Is there any kind of mental evaluation for people running for president?

    January 12, 2009 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
  4. Ron

    I sure hope that he considers this his "short list!!!"

    January 12, 2009 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
  5. GA Resident

    So Pres. Bush was "disappointed with the tone in Washington"? I think he helped set that tone his first days in office. Although I didn't vote for him either time, I did get behind him in the beginning as he was our President. I wanted to believe that he was a "uniter not a divider" as he stated in his 2000 campaign. But what were some of his first actions? Executive orders banning stem cell research on new cell lines and a gag order on organizations about a woman's right to choose an abortion. His first actions were on some of the most divisive subjects and pandered to a set of religious beliefs instead of policy that should work for ALL Americans. And then after 9/11 ignoring the Constitution and basically saying it was OK to torture? If that was his idea of changing things for the better, I don't want it. Bush needs to be accountable for his actions that set the "tone" too instead of trying to divert blame to Washington.

    January 12, 2009 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
  6. Humored in Texas

    4,000+ families are heartened to know that the guy who started the war now realizes what everybody knew going in – it was a mistake!!!

    Those families planted family members because of this genius!!!

    January 12, 2009 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
  7. Vence wilmington CA

    As a regular republican, too little too late. They learn nothing from the teacher. (President Reagan) said the immigrants are republicans just they don't know it. GOP lost when they started demonizing immigrants through right wing radio hosts and raids mocking at them as they are terrorists. That is modern day lynching Mr Bush. You should have found another scapegoats not hard working people as your party did.

    January 12, 2009 11:00 am at 11:00 am |
  8. That Other Jerry

    No doubt this space will soon be filled with hate-filled, moronic statements directed against the President. Basically the verbal equivalent of a blatant late hit in a football game, and deserving of the same scorn. If the children who make those comments can stop chanting "nyah, nyah, nyah" for a few moments, they will realize that for a President to spend his final press conference reflecting on his mistakes is profound enough. Bush realizes things did not go the way he had planned. There is however, a difference between being misguided and being evil. It takes intelligence and open-mindedness to see the difference, which is why you won't see a lot of people on here who understand it.

    January 12, 2009 11:00 am at 11:00 am |
  9. killbucket

    Exile W.

    January 12, 2009 11:01 am at 11:01 am |
  10. Helene

    He should be tried as a war criminal. Period.

    January 12, 2009 11:01 am at 11:01 am |
  11. Hooray for President Bush

    Thank you Mr President. Under your watch, we suffered the worst attack on our soil in our history on 9-11 worse than Pearl Harbor. You responsed and drove the Taliban from Afghanistan. We have not been attached since on your watch as you have taken the terrorist fight overseas – Thank you. I thin in 15-20 years when Iraq is a strong independent Democratic Power and has a calming influence over the MidEast, history will look back and view your actions as the right move – Thank you for that.

    I am sure you did your best, and God knows it is not an easy job. Your help to President Elect Obama and his transition team has been outstanding and I am sure the American people and Mr Obama appreciate it greatly – thank you for that.

    On Mr Cheney, I am sure if on the day after 9-11, somebody in the Press challenged or uestioned him on the use of water boarding techniques to pry vital information from a terrorist, 95% of Americans would applaud the Vice President and laugh and scold those meddlesome and uninformed peole in the press only looking for a controversy. Thank you Mr Vice President for keeping us safe, and for deciding on the conservative side when it comes to protecting the US

    January 12, 2009 11:01 am at 11:01 am |
  12. Humored in Texas

    Gaza? Look to the Balfour Declaration and the ramifications it caused if you want to place blame!

    January 12, 2009 11:01 am at 11:01 am |
  13. Michael M, Phoenix AZ

    Did anyone pay attention to his statement that the response time New Orleans was NOT slow! What a dweeb.

    January 12, 2009 11:01 am at 11:01 am |
  14. Sue T

    I think if Bush had been more honest like he was today he would have left office with higher ratings and could possibly helped the GOP party.

    January 12, 2009 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  15. alreadytiredofit

    Mistake #1 – running for President in 2000.

    January 12, 2009 11:03 am at 11:03 am |
  16. Humored in Texas

    Katrina?! That was typical Bush-farce in action!!!

    "You're doin' a great job, Brownie!" Then Brownie had to retire due to blatant incompetence!!!

    January 12, 2009 11:03 am at 11:03 am |
  17. Atsen

    So he is a smart fella?

    January 12, 2009 11:03 am at 11:03 am |
  18. james

    You don`t need to tell us where and how you F#@*D up, It`s obvious. Just shut up and leave ---

    January 12, 2009 11:03 am at 11:03 am |
  19. christina knight

    i think it is laughable that bush(king george the turd) would claim that he tried to change the political environment in washington. there has never been a more divisive, ideologically rigid individual to hold the office of president. sadly, he is too incredibly stupid to appreciate the irony of claim

    January 12, 2009 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
  20. Steve

    8 more days......

    January 12, 2009 11:05 am at 11:05 am |
  21. D Steele

    W.. still the dumbest letter in the alphabet

    January 12, 2009 11:05 am at 11:05 am |
  22. NEL E BELL ;-)

    I BELIEVE THAT THE 51.2% OF THE PEOPLE THAT VOTED FOR BUSHES SECOND TERM SHOULD ADMIT TO THEIR MISTAKE. AFTER ALL WE OR SHOULD I SAY THEY THE PEOPLE THAT PUT GW BACK AFTER HIS FIRST STOLEN TERM.

    January 12, 2009 11:05 am at 11:05 am |
  23. arc, Lugano CH

    But "the rhetoric got out of control," Bush said.
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~"
    Cowboy rhetoric is what Conservatives want to hear.

    Like "smoking out" those "Arabs".

    January 12, 2009 11:06 am at 11:06 am |
  24. Noel

    I feel that the media has treated the Bush administration badly. I feel that time will show that Bush made correct decisions regarding keeping the people of the US free from attack.

    Another major terrorist attack on US soil would cause far more problems than the financial crises we are now facing.

    January 12, 2009 11:06 am at 11:06 am |
  25. From Miami

    Our country – and the world – will breathe a tremendous sigh of relief when Bush is finally, finally gone.

    January 12, 2009 11:07 am at 11:07 am |
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