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. Lisa in FL: Looked up "narcisstic" and found a picture of Obama!!

    Obama is the most full of himself President since Bill Clinton. Democrats thrive on the power the White House brings to THEM as individuals and not focus on the power it gives to work for the people.

    Obama has already shown and admitted to having to back down from most of the "promises" and 'change" he campaigned on.

    You idiots bought his crap and now realize he is no different then any other politician.

    Your comic book hero, "messiah" , community organizer is in for a serious wakeup call and will have all the excuses to justify lieing to the American People about "Change"

    January 12, 2009 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  2. Robert

    The biggest mistake was made by American voters - electing the Clown Prince of the Bush family not just once, but TWICE! What were those voters thinking? At least America got in right in 2008 - can't wait until inauguration day and President Obama!

    January 12, 2009 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  3. JB

    By George's own philosophy, you're either with us or against us, you're an enemy or a friend, you're a patriot or a traitor. And if you're against whatever he proposes, then you're automatically unpatriotic.

    He tried to put everything in simpler terms so he can relate to it. Everything was either black or white when the world has thousands of shades of grey. By his own philosophy, he can only be a genius or utterly dumb. And GWB is obviously no genius.

    January 12, 2009 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  4. Robert

    He's pathetic. I wonder how long it took him to think up the Air Force One excuse regarding Katrina? Regardless how he tries to whitewash things at the end, he has been an unmitigated disaster, and history will so note.

    January 12, 2009 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  5. Susan

    The above obnoxious commentators are no better than the one they hate...It's hate that divides this country...not one man. Hate on both sides of the isle. What are you doing to make a positive change in this country? Taking responsiblity for those that WE elect on every level is the best start. Term Limits and the right to redirect a misdirected government through the petition process is the only power that we citizens truly have in today's political times. Blaming one man does not solve the poltical ills of this country. We all need to grow up.

    January 12, 2009 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  6. MBFLA

    Let the eight years of NO accountability be over!

    January 12, 2009 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  7. Pandora Spocks

    We don't need no stinking Constitution!

    January 12, 2009 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  8. Neno

    President "B" is a on of the smartest Presidents we have had. He was able to divide us in groups to manipulate with us in order to achieve there goals…. We as a citizens are CHICKENS and not ready to stand up and fight for thins we believe.

    Why to go Mr. President

    Pizza, six pack (+) and the game time. Who cares about future?

    January 12, 2009 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  9. Farhad

    I believe that he has more serious one than only few words. The last one, not least, authorizing the slaughter of Palestinian in Gaza by Israel. I wish Hitler could rise again. it is the time.

    January 12, 2009 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  10. Charles

    Lisa, you're an idiot...

    January 12, 2009 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  11. Phil

    On the whole President Bush did a good job and received the most severe out-of-proportion criticism ever by a sitting president . My wife and I and our children thank you, President Bush, for keeping us safe for the past 7 years.

    January 12, 2009 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  12. republicans hate america

    Bush you are a failure and you should have realized that before your ran for president and ruined our country!

    January 12, 2009 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  13. carolflowery

    I sure trust him more than the incoming one in every sense of the word.

    January 12, 2009 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  14. Bob

    It's obvious that democrats will always despise George Bush because in him they found a President that never buckled when they pushed him, instead he just pushed back in ways they could not counter. He beat them up bad and damaged the hell out of their egos. They will never forget that. Now they think they have beaten him. If they can do the same job preventing terrorist attacks on our soil, all will stay well for them. If they lose focus and allow something to occur, this could well blow up in their faces. They will be facing a very fickle American public and it will hit the fan for them.
    A veteran

    January 12, 2009 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  15. Zulu Mama

    This is what happens when a father's cronies steal an election for an idiot son - he runs the best country in the world straight into the ground. It astounds me that there are people out there who continue to worship the worst president in this country's history.

    Good bye and good riddance!

    Don't let the door hit in your arse.

    January 12, 2009 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  16. chuck


    January 12, 2009 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  17. Texas2

    Let's remember the economy started sinking when the Democrats gained control of Congress. And the "boom" of the Clinton era? Doesn't everyone understand, we are suffering the effects of that "boom" because all prosperity during that time was a lie.

    Bush did the best he could, and I don't see Obama doing any better. In fact, I believe that in a few years, we will have a better perspective of how Bush made the right decisions – and wishing we had supported him even more.

    January 12, 2009 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  18. Jack Jodell

    His entire administration has been a giant mistake...and a horrific nightmare.

    January 12, 2009 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  19. CT Mama

    Lisa in Florida-I think we must be cousins somehow...I have the same relatives!!

    January 12, 2009 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  20. Zulu Mama

    Jim Colbert:

    You are an idiot.

    January 12, 2009 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  21. Pat F

    Amen, Mike in Syracuse. Tim, don't let the door smack you on the fanny on the way out. Because you know what? America Hates Tim!

    January 12, 2009 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  22. republicans hate america

    Lisa in FL - Im surprised you even were able to look up a dictionary. Yeah Bush was such a humble man filled with humility and self evaluation. You are an inbreed please do not have children.

    January 12, 2009 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  23. Laverne

    To all the people who continue to say Obama is going to be a bad president. "Where were your psychic abilities when Bush was running for POTUS or does it only kick in when there is a democratic president"?

    January 12, 2009 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  24. john

    i can see "film professor" (why he/she finds it necessary to call themselves that....apparently we are supposed to be impressed because he/she is a professor in Film...what was art history all filled up?) has alot of time on their hands counting how many days the President has been in office. Genius written all over that one.

    January 12, 2009 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  25. Alan

    Desperado January 12th, 2009 11:33 am ET

    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.

    Interesting comment, Desperado. I'm betting Obama is gonna prove you wrong BIG-TIME. That doesn't mean I think he's Jesus or endowed with magical powers. It means I think he's a superbly intelligent, talented guy who has a different approach to governing that has a much better chance of turning things around.

    I see a LOT of republicans making it sound like liking the president-elect is hero worship. We're hoping and praying he can do it and I think the odds are now in our favor that something can eventually be done to straighten out the mess that has DEFINITELY occurred over the past eight years.

    Majority rules. Your side lost, thanks to the terrible job your side has done the past eight years. Now you're in the minority. Get used to it for a whle. Obama could just prove you wrong and you're only going to look more foolish the louder you are now.

    January 12, 2009 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
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