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. David

    I don't like Georgey, but I respect his willingness to acknowledge he's not perfect. He's had a hard job, he's blundered, but it's time to move on.

    January 12, 2009 11:08 am at 11:08 am |
  2. Gen Patton

    God Bless you President Bush

    January 12, 2009 11:08 am at 11:08 am |
  3. Ryan in Waynesboro, VA

    "...the rhetoric got out of control."

    Simply put, following the Rove doctrine didn't work. The GOP is in political trouble now because of it. If they hope to stem the bleeding and stop losing seats, they should completely abandon the Rovian tactics and attitude. That would allow them to move back toward the center (where the vast majority of the country truly stands) so the healing can begin and extreme-partisan politics can go the way of the dodo.

    January 12, 2009 11:09 am at 11:09 am |
  4. JohnCynic

    Bush is the image of a failed abortion procedure that left forceps marks permanently embedded in his skull.

    January 12, 2009 11:10 am at 11:10 am |
  5. Maggie from Virginia

    He admited some of his mistakes... We must forgive him, and move on. Cheney is a different story.

    January 12, 2009 11:12 am at 11:12 am |
  6. Peter

    Bush was a mistake.

    January 12, 2009 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  7. DavidinCA

    Don't get caught up in all of the Democrats whining about the last 8 years. We saw how they provided very little support for the administration's efforts, using whatever power they did have to just sabotage what you were trying to accomplish. The fact is, this is all they have to talk about because they have done little on their own to focus on. Let's see what happens in the next 4 years. I hope it's positive, but until January 20th, it's all talk. Let's see if they can walk.

    January 12, 2009 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  8. Lisa in Florida

    Unbelievable, I think Bush must live on the same planet as Sarah Palin and that planet is called DENIAL!!! It kills me how these people blame everyone but themselves. They are truly narcisstic and completely out of touch with reality. Very scary. Funny, I have in-law relatives who are the same way and interestingly enough they voted for Bush twice and think Palin is a gift from God!!!! Thank God his 8 years are over and the grown ups will be taking over on January 20th!!

    Obama/Biden

    January 12, 2009 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  9. Ray Fisher

    Georgie is correct about the disruption caused by his visits as I was stuck 3 hours in a traffic jam caused by his motorcade in Alabama several years ago. The logistics involved in a Presidential visit are staggering but I think a video conference would have sufficed. It was more an issue of "Good Job Brownie" appointing a horse show coordinator to head FEMA than anything else. Even James Lee Witt the former director volunteered his services but was ignored. America unfortunately has no choice but to let history decide!!!

    January 12, 2009 11:14 am at 11:14 am |
  10. A disgrace to our country

    Jail him...!!!

    January 12, 2009 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  11. Angie-OHIO

    The idiot can NOW admit he made some mistakes. The people that DID NOT vote for him already knew he was stupid and would be a complete failure as president. I'm so glad his rein of terror is over. I also know and understand NO ONE is perfect, but bush is a lying,cheating war monger. he has destroyed this country. So let him take the rest of his miserable lying crew and hit the road. GOOD RIDDENCE TO BAD RUBBISH!!!!!!!!!!!!

    January 12, 2009 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  12. ran

    Ding dong Bush will soon be gone.

    January 12, 2009 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  13. Nick of Charleston

    I know that most of the comments here will be Bush-bashing, so I'm going out on a limb here. Yes, I dislike Bush. A lot. However, the fact that he was able to admit that he screwed up, even if he did end up blaming Congress for his inaction, is still more than what several politicians do (see Palin for what I'm talking about).

    January 12, 2009 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  14. Jackson, Seattle

    Be careful what you say, Georgie Boy, anything you say can and will be held against you at a war crimes tribunal.

    January 12, 2009 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  15. tim

    The world hates America, Americans hate America...

    yeah, mistakes are the least of your legacy.

    January 12, 2009 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  16. Ommy

    Two words: Bush Derangement Syndrome.

    January 12, 2009 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  17. Hanna

    I have never liked Bush. My husband always says "history will tell".
    In the past few months watching him and how gracious he has been toward Pres. Elect Obama has changed my feelings. I do believe his understaning on terrorists and his support for democracy is admirable.

    Yes he has made mistakes.
    Who doesn't.

    I wish him well.

    January 12, 2009 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  18. Cheri NW Arkansas

    Yah Think!!!???!!! Thank the gods this idiot is out of there!

    January 12, 2009 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  19. jt

    No man is above law, so, Bush must be brought to justice...

    January 12, 2009 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  20. Terry

    Thanks to the Supreme Court for giving us an idiot with a double digit IQ. The nightmare is almost over.

    January 12, 2009 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  21. Paul Hirokawa

    good bye and good riddance. TX will have its idiot back in a few days.

    January 12, 2009 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  22. dorothy smith

    I believe he omitted another few dozen mistakes he made & I can't wait for him to go back with the other prairie dogs. My one hope is,
    that as president, Obama can undo some of his these mistakes.

    January 12, 2009 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  23. Ryan

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

    BEST BUSHISM EVER

    January 12, 2009 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  24. Jeff

    GET OUT.

    January 12, 2009 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  25. GODZILLA1

    I'm giving a "good riddance" party one week from today – bye bye Junior (shrub) – hope we never hear from you again!

    January 12, 2009 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
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