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. Josh

    Why would he HAVE to arrive in Baton Rouge in Air Force One?

    Ever heard of a helicoptor? And why would he pull police force away? isn't that what his travelling secret agents are for?

    Lame excuse.

    January 12, 2009 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  2. sharethepeace

    texas2, do you really really really not see Obama doing better than Bush? Because if you're saying that out of some sort of texas pride that's your call, but if you really think that I'm a bit worried for you.

    January 12, 2009 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  3. JD

    I have been ashamed to be from TX for the last 8 years....Maybe now I can get some of that pride back

    January 12, 2009 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  4. tired of corporate politics

    Bush at end of term: I tried to politialize(!) as best I could, and I made some mistakes.

    Obama at end of term: it is not my fault – there was too much division and racism while I was hanging back and considering all the options presented by informed non-biased input givers to the political process and considering various equally weighted statistics they may or may not have been germane to the infrastructure.

    January 12, 2009 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  5. Aaron, State College PA

    Just holding my breath waiting for this administration to end!

    January 12, 2009 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  6. Ghost

    Seems alot like pleading to a lesser charge to me.

    More Obama haters out there? Someone give them a big ol hug!!!

    January 12, 2009 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  7. Clint, Wa.

    Who is this Bush guy, and what did he ever do?

    January 12, 2009 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  8. Kathy

    God Bless you President Bush and your family. Thank you for all you have done for us in your 8 years of service especially for keeping us safe. Your on cool cat.I really loved your reaction when that guy through his boots at you. Like I said "your one cool cat"

    January 12, 2009 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  9. lady in the know

    If you think we had a bumpy ride with Bush, just you wait. Everyone is ready to hang this guy for doing the toughest job in the world, but we didn't get attacked again, did we? Now, no telling what's going to happen. I'm quite sure when the planes are heading for their targets, that won't be the time to "talk" to the terrorists and tell them to "stop that". We already have a good idea of what is expected of PEBO and his campaign promises by the rest of the world with the release of the most recent terror tape. How they expect him to "change American policy." Everyone of us should be very afraid. The economy is a valid concern, of course, but if the terrorists are here, the economy isn't going to seem so important, is it? And speaking of campaign promises, seems to me that alot of his are already being put on the back burner before he even takes office. Before the election, it was "I" am going to change things. Now when he talks about before the election, it is "we" were going to....It is just so terribly upsetting to me to see people after he was elected saying that their mortgages were going to be taken care of now, that they don't have to worry about their electric bills, etc. Talk about being brainwashed. I hope these people have a plan B cause that just isn't going to happen. And as far as all these jobs, I just read where 2.6 million jobs were lost last year and another 2 million are expected to be lost this year, so if my math is correct, we aren't gaining anything with his 4 million jobs being created, right? And those jobs aren't sustainable jobs in manufacturing. I want to hear how he is going to keep jobs here in the factories. And I especially want to hear his plan for Social Security and Medicare. We need to be asking about that, too. It isn't just about today. It's about all our futures and whether the social security/medicare system is going to be solvent in the future. Think about that while you are busy diefying this ordinary man.

    January 12, 2009 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  10. Jon

    Shoe-throw on his last day, anybody?

    January 12, 2009 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  11. Lee for Obama

    The office of the presidency deserves respect. George W Bush is neither a moron nor an evil man. I believe he is misguided and closed minded, but he truly believes that he did his best with some very difficult situations. In my opinion his policies were wrong and often appealed to the worst in us as a nation...fear, revenge, anger. We have an opportunity now to change. Barack Obama said that the change will come from him, but it must also come from us. Let's not arrogantly choose a scapegoat for the position we find ourselves in today (no matter how deserving). Let's acknowledge that we have been ruled by our lesser selves for some time now and reject that behavior. Each and every one of us needs to step up, stop complaining and turn this mess around. I was not born here but I am a naturalized citizen for ten years. I have traveled the world and I still believe in the promise of this nation and its people. Let's do this!

    January 12, 2009 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  12. the idiot

    Reading Jerry Kelly comments you can see what Bush means, in fact most of the dumbcrats on this page. The idiot (idion to Proud American) beat them twice and they just cannot get over it.

    January 12, 2009 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  13. a little sad

    @Jim Colbert January 12th, 2009 11:37 am ET

    Whether you liked the way we got it done or not, we have not been attacked on our soil for over 7 years. Don't think for a second that the terrorists will be coming back, while we are busy adding to the debt.

    ________________________________________________

    Whether you liked the way it happened or not, Clinton kept us safe from foreign attacks on our soil for 7 years, from 1993 through 2000.

    Bush on the other hand let this happen just 10 months into his presidency. With forewarning, but his administration was so intent on not doing anything like Clintons' that they would not even listen to the intel they had.

    Clinton managed to keep us safe. managed to arrest the terrorists (jailed, unlike Ben Laden) and still uphold the constitution.

    I like Clinton's track record better.

    January 12, 2009 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  14. Jon

    He had to burn the country down to save it.

    January 12, 2009 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  15. Tom in S.A.

    Remeber that GW was our first president when most of us started using the internet regularly and gave us a chance to voice our opinions about anything on the blogs. It's to bad a lot of you get your news from the blogs vs doing some of your own research. There have been way to many posts that show just how ignorant some of you are. On the flip side there are good posts, those that don't spew the hatred, right or left, and the only ones worthy of paying any attention to.

    January 12, 2009 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  16. Katrina

    God Bless you President Bush and your family. Thank you for all you have done for us in your 8 years of service especially for keeping us safe. Your on cool cat.I really loved your reaction when that guy through his boots at you. Like I said "your one cool cat"

    January 12, 2009 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  17. Noah

    Liberal idealists will soon see Obama making the same "mistakes' they accuse Bush of. Obama was the anti-war candidate who promised to pull troops out of Iraq immediately. Now we see he will keep them there through 2011 . He is also going to increase the troop level in Afghanistan by over 20,000 troops. That should bode well with all the anti-war nuts who voted for him. He has said he is going to keep the bush taxcuts in place despite telling us during the election that he would repeal them. Once a man actually becomes President and is fully aware of the power he holds and the reality that America's security is in his hands, it's amazing how conservative they all become

    January 12, 2009 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  18. DOC

    I wonder if Mr. Bush will actually get prosecuted for those actions that he did not deem a mistake although there are laws that say those actions were wrong.

    Then again, when you're in bed with the "lawmakers" what difference does it make?

    America has been conned. Will the con continue?

    January 12, 2009 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  19. ros

    Bob..hate to break it to you my friend, but not just democrats think GWB is/was the worst president many independants, and even some republicans do too. I'm sure he left a warm fuzzy feeling when he vetoed the veterans bill, or ignored the Katrina victims, presided over the worst terrorist attack and kept reading my pet goat, or just did not say or do anything about the economic recession(correction..said there wasn't one)....Its just that most American see incompetance and we don't like it!

    January 12, 2009 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  20. Roger

    Thank God he is fianlly leaving!!

    January 12, 2009 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  21. kd

    Lisa in FL....give Obama a chance. Also, your ignorant spouting would hold more weight if you learned to spell.

    January 12, 2009 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  22. Proud Republican

    You democrats are ridiculous, you act like no democratic president has ever done anything wrong...People make mistakes, we learn from these mistakes and sometime pay the price for them, personally I feel president bush did a fair job with everything that happened during his term. Now why dont you calm down and stop juding so fast (considering that is what democrats like to imply that republicans do too often).

    January 12, 2009 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
  23. Michael Sperry

    After reading Texas 2: Tthank God that I'm not from Texas; it appears to be filled with fools and fearmongers.

    January 12, 2009 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  24. sandy

    I doubt that he would b admitting this if he were not going out. He hopes to sugar coat it?????

    January 12, 2009 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  25. robert

    Mr Colbert you are as guilty as Bush as to why so many people hate Bush.
    You "got it done" alright, 4000 Plus Americans, countless Iraqi'civilains, but your poor Republican a– was safe (you think!)
    Ther hasn't been any more attacks on our soil because the first attack woke the morons in DC up, and now as Republicans always do when they create a mess they want rationale people to believe theye are the ones to thank!
    Thats why so many republicans were elected in November right?

    January 12, 2009 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
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