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. HeadlessHessian

    Everyone makes mistakes. The real measure of a leader is his or hers ability to admit to it in a timely fashion, mitigate and/or remedy the results, learn from it and apply that to the future.
    In the case of this president his mistakes have been catastrophic for this country, he has never admited to most of them, has not taken action to resolve, but worst of all has not learned from them. This country was turned over to him with a surplus to be applied to paying down our debt. In his 8 years in office he has turned that surplus over to the richest of the rich and into an incredible debt. He has ruined our reputation, blocked initiatives in science, and sent many of youth to their early graves for a lie. History will judge Bush alright, as the worst of the worst presidents, ever.

    January 12, 2009 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  2. john

    you guys are all a bunch of fools. you sit back and call names, but what have any of you done to make this country better?

    i voted for BO, but i am also american enough to thank Bush for his time in office. the man had very tough decisions to make, possibly tougher than any president has ever had to make.

    it is easy to sit back and toss stones and call names...it is hard to take action and try and make things better.

    being president is not a popularity contest. i am afraid that is what we have done electing BO.

    January 12, 2009 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  3. Matt

    Countries that supply arms to Hamas? Yeah, because those rockets that have an overwhelming chance of killing nobody (check the stats) are a huge deal when compared with all the weapons we give Israel so they can kill 1,000 or so Palestinians in the space of a week or two. Of course, who cares if it's not our children. Takes 7 years to kill 5,000 of our and make us really really angry...only 7 days to kill 500 of theirs while we watch cartoons.

    January 12, 2009 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  4. Charles M. Haynes

    I have rarely agreed with President Bush on very many issues, but on the matter of Gaza I am in full agreement: the IDF should continue its latest action in the Gaza strip until Hamas stops firing rockets into Israel. Only then should a sustainable cease-fire even be considered.

    January 12, 2009 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  5. Yousuf- NYC

    Enough said W. Now see ya. The clinton era economic boom, housing boom, you and cheney brought it down.

    You've made alot more enemies then friends...THANKS ALOT!!!!

    GOODBYE, I surely wont miss your intelligent but will miss your stupidity that was played on TV and internet.


    January 12, 2009 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  6. Wally

    It's so nice of you to share that with us. Please, sit down.

    Lunkhead. We would have been so much better if you had had the guts to volunteer to serve your country in Viet Nam. You might have learned something about the value of human life, and the suffering created by war-for-war's sake. But you were a spoiled brat in a grown up costume. Still are. Petulant little man.

    January 12, 2009 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  7. Meh

    I think the first mistake was his being "elected". Second mistake, his being elected twice!

    AEK> This man started an unneccesary war w. made-up Intelligence. He doesn't deserve respect.

    January 12, 2009 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  8. Todd Ackerman

    There is a great line in The Shawshank Redemption, which Andy Dufresqe says to the corrupt prison warden:

    "How can you be so obtuse?"

    Does Bush not understand that he is President until the 20th? Why did he stop working in November?!?

    Does he really think the only mistake he made following hurricane Katrina was not flying down to see the damage?!?

    Does he really think the problem in Washington for the last eight years was simply "rhetoric," and not his inability to accomplish ANYTHING?!?

    How can he be so obtuse?!?

    January 12, 2009 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  9. John

    It is true. Whatever Bush did the Looney Left would have found a way to make it look bad. He could have saved a hundred people himself from the hurricane aftermath and they would have jumped on him for missing number 101!

    January 12, 2009 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
  10. William, Atl, GA

    It's "ok" president Bush everyone makes mistakes. Like in 2004 when the nation let their fear get the better of them and you got reelected.

    January 12, 2009 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  11. JT

    Yeah, AEK, that's the message to send - it's okay to "hate the man."

    Precisely when did it become okay to hate the President?

    Disagree with his (or her) policies. Criticize them. Work to elect someone else. Work 24/7 to do that, if you want. But please, please stop the ad hominem attacks. Not only is it impolite, disrespectful and un-Christian, but it is also one of the tell-tale signs that the person making the criticism either (a) is not too bright; or (b) has no logical basis on which to make a valid criticism.

    January 12, 2009 11:24 am at 11:24 am |


    January 12, 2009 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  13. Jeff B.

    A truly good man. I'll miss him. I wish the best to President Obama. He's got a tough job ahead.

    January 12, 2009 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  14. A Really Conservative Realist

    Glad to see him admit mistakes. It's a good thing to do for all of us. History will judge him in a more favorable light...that is unless...the history books are written by the same feminazi, liberal, hand-out loving crew that typically posts here.

    January 12, 2009 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  15. Terrance D.

    Someone should turn on the "wrap it up" music like when a speech goes over time at the grammys!

    January 12, 2009 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
  16. Ozzie

    8 more days until this nightmare is over.. I am not one to say evil words but I can't wait for a new vision of our beautiful country. For all its faults we have some of the best people on earth here but we've been lead by a greedy and corrupt government, beginning with Bush. Now he can retire to his 2 million dollar pad and let us heal our wounds. Time to move on.

    January 12, 2009 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
  17. Emit R Detsaw

    Arrogant and Delusional to the end!

    January 12, 2009 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  18. DJ

    OK, AEK – but the person in the office must be the ultimate role model to American citizens when it comes to respecting the office of the president. He/she must respect the office themselves. For this president, the deterioration began in 2000 when he was placed in office by the Supreme Court. I'm not absolving his fierce (inappropriate?) critics of their responsibility. I'm just saying he didn't exactly do his part to bring honor to the office.

    January 12, 2009 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  19. TCM

    haha...I just want to see how the media and you liberal pukes are going to justify Obama's horrible mistakes; he's already making them and not in office...I love it when people are counting down...8 more days...like something good's going to happen? More debt, higher taxes, more government control of our lives, less freedom....of course "entitlement slugs," love it, because many of you won't have to work. I'm by no means a Bush supporter, however, Obama was the biggest mistake we could've made as a leader. Continue to throw insults at Bush; in six months you shortsighted spoiled Americans will be saying, "George who?" and out of the other side of your mouth...you'll be slamming Obama....the point is, the liberal demcratic congress has caused all of the FINANCIAL MELTDOWN>

    January 12, 2009 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  20. Charlie

    I must say that I am so glad that this administration is over. I can not remember a time when we have been so divided. We Americans will overcome this horrible time. We have done it before and we will do it again. Our strength is our Unity and Hope. We do survive even poor leadership. We can. We will. We do. Ours is a true Freedom and a belief in goodness.

    January 12, 2009 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  21. DJ

    And to Nick in Charleston, one of this president's big "things" was that he was so cocky, he put off anyone who disagreed with him about things. Not exactly what you want in a leader responsible not only to right-wing fanatics.

    January 12, 2009 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  22. Jared

    Good riddance to bad rubbish.

    Traitor and War Criminal are perfectly apt descriptions of W.

    January 12, 2009 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  23. nora, pittsburgh



    January 12, 2009 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  24. ga.

    mr. bush you had 8 years.

    January 12, 2009 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  25. Objective thinking

    AEK: Amen. I'm a Ron Paul supporter so obviously I disagree with a lot of what Bush has done on foreign policy and also domestically, but people need to learn to disagree with him in a respectful manner.

    January 12, 2009 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
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