January 15th, 2009
05:09 PM ET
14 years ago

Bush: 'There are things I would do differently if given the chance'

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/01/15/art.bushpurse0115.gi.jpg caption="Pres. Bush will make a prime-time address to the nation on Thursday night."]

The White House has released excerpts of President Bush's farewell address to the nation tonight, as prepared for delivery. The president will reflect on Barack Obama's inauguration, the response to 9/11 - and on "setbacks" he's faced over the past eight years. (Excerpts, as released by the White House, after the jump)

Watch the president's speech on CNN tonight at 8 pm.

On the transfer of power:

Five days from now, the world will witness the vitality of American democracy. In a tradition dating back to our founding, the presidency will pass to a successor chosen by you, the American people. Standing on the steps of the Capitol will be a man whose story reflects the enduring promise of our land. This is a moment of hope and pride for our whole Nation. And I join all Americans in offering best wishes to President-elect Obama, his wife Michelle, and their two beautiful girls.

On gratitude:

Tonight I am filled with gratitude. I thank the American people for the trust you have given me. I thank you for the prayers that have lifted my spirits. And I thank you for the countless acts of courage, generosity, and grace that I have witnessed these past eight years.

On the response to 9/11:

This evening, my thoughts return to the first night I addressed you from this house – September 11, 2001. That morning, terrorists took nearly 3,000 lives in the worst attack on America since Pearl Harbor.

As the years passed, most Americans were able to return to life much as it had been before 9/11. But I never did. Every morning, I received a briefing on the threats to our Nation. And I vowed to do everything in my power to keep us safe.

Over the past seven years, a new Department of Homeland Security has been created. The military, the intelligence community, and the FBI have been transformed. Our Nation is equipped with new tools to monitor the terrorists’ movements, freeze their finances, and break up their plots. And with strong allies at our side, we have taken the fight to the terrorists and those who support them.

There is legitimate debate about many of these decisions. But there can be little debate about the results. America has gone more than seven years without another terrorist attack on our soil. This is a tribute to those who toil day and night to keep us safe – law enforcement officers, intelligence analysts, homeland security and diplomatic personnel, and the men and women of the United States Armed Forces.

On protecting America through the advance of liberty around the world:

When people live in freedom, they do not willingly choose leaders who pursue campaigns of terror. When people have hope in the future, they will not cede their lives to violence and extremism. So around the world, America is promoting human liberty, human rights, and human dignity. We are standing with dissidents and young democracies, providing AIDS medicine to bring dying patients back to life, and sparing mothers and babies from malaria. And this great republic born alone in liberty is leading the world toward a new age when freedom belongs to all nations.

On the Administration’s accomplishments here at home:

For eight years, we have also strived to expand opportunity and hope here at home. Across our country, students are rising to meet higher standards in public schools. A new Medicare prescription drug benefit is bringing peace of mind to seniors and the disabled. Every taxpayer pays lower income taxes. The addicted and suffering are finding new hope through faith-based programs. Vulnerable human life is better protected. Funding for our veterans has nearly doubled. America’s air, water, and lands are measurably cleaner. And the Federal bench includes wise new members like Justice Sam Alito and Chief Justice John Roberts.

On principled decision-making:

Like all who have held this office before me, I have experienced setbacks. There are things I would do differently if given the chance. Yet I have always acted with the best interests of our country in mind. I have followed my conscience and done what I thought was right. You may not agree with some tough decisions I have made. But I hope you can agree that I was willing to make the tough decisions.

On future challenges facing America:

The decades ahead will bring more hard choices for our country, and there are some guiding principles that should shape our course.

While our Nation is safer than it was seven years ago, the gravest threat to our people remains another terrorist attack. Our enemies are patient, and determined to strike again. America did nothing to seek or deserve this conflict. But we have been given solemn responsibilities, and we must meet them. We must resist complacency. We must keep our resolve. And we must never let down our guard.

At the same time, we must continue to engage the world with confidence and clear purpose. In the face of threats from abroad, it can be tempting to seek comfort by turning inward. But we must reject isolationism and its companion, protectionism. Retreating behind our borders would only invite danger. In the 21st century, security and prosperity at home depend on the expansion of liberty abroad. If America does not lead the cause of freedom, that cause will not be led.

As we address these challenges – and others we cannot foresee tonight – America must maintain our moral clarity. I have often spoken to you about good and evil. This has made some uncomfortable. But good and evil are present in this world, and between the two there can be no compromise.

On the promise of America:

Even in the toughest times, we lift our eyes to the broad horizon ahead.

I have confidence in the promise of America because I know the character of our people. This is a Nation that inspires immigrants to risk everything for the dream of freedom. This is a Nation where citizens show calm in times of danger and compassion in the face of suffering.

These virtues give me an unshakable faith in America. We have faced danger and trial, and there is more ahead. But with the courage of our people and confidence in our ideals, this great Nation will never tire … never falter … and never fail.

Filed under: President Bush
soundoff (84 Responses)
  1. Turnabout is Fair Play

    To all you powerfully stupid Republican sh!theads posting in here, we'll see how good of a job you think Bush did when someone in your family dies in Iraq over some stupid @$$ war and they come knocking on your door in dress blues to tell you your brother or sister died..stupid ignorant fncktards, especially jerry.

    January 15, 2009 09:47 pm at 9:47 pm |
  2. bohicasfc

    To all you haters of the USA and President Bush. You are safe because of him and the things he did. No one was drafted so you jerks just want to cry. The congress is made up of DEMocrats and REPublican Senators and Congressman. Clinton for 8 years Bush for 8 years what did they do. The congress just blames the sitting President and all you losers jump on the band wagon. I will tell you 'Nothing" (never will) they all blame each other for their mistakes and depending on the issue at the time you clowns blow a gasket when something happens that you do not like. Then the name calling starts. what about the Congressman from NY that did not pay his taxes...(no penalty) If it was you or me look out.....

    I am proud to be an American and support my President and my Country. sounds like you jerks just care about yourself....KMA.

    SFC Ray 5th SF(A Team Leader) SOG RVN 1964

    January 15, 2009 10:09 pm at 10:09 pm |
  3. TrueIndependent

    I am amazed at those who say George Bush kept us safe.

    Who do you think was president on 9/11? No, you are wrong, the White House was not vacant then, George Bush was sleeping at the switch then. Get real.

    January 15, 2009 10:13 pm at 10:13 pm |
  4. Breaking News

    @PAT J You get a life.I backed Ron Paul and Im not a lib,and I think your a dittohead sheep.I didnt vote for this moron either time.What are you, a Rush Limbaugh is my savoirite?

    January 15, 2009 10:15 pm at 10:15 pm |
  5. Club Fed

    I'm waiting to see what becomes of any documents and emails that haven't been shredded. Interesting to see how anyone like Scott McClellan or Colon Powell are tagged as traitors to the GOP for speaking their OWN conscience.

    A lot of birds will be singing, very soon.

    January 15, 2009 10:15 pm at 10:15 pm |
  6. Marolie Borden

    History will prove that George W. Bush made all the right calls. He kept the American people safe from future terrorist attacks. I have felt safe in this country while he was president, let's see if this will continue under the new administration. Blame the Governor of Louisiana and the Mayor of New Orleans for the mess after the hurricane not president Bush. No one knows what they have until they loose it, remember that under the new administration. God bless president Bush and his family.

    January 15, 2009 10:19 pm at 10:19 pm |
  7. ed_hutch

    is bad not to know , but there is nothing worst when u don't know that you don't know ; and when u add a great deal of arrogance to the equation the result is george w bush : " the worst president of this generation " . this should be a learning lesson for us americans : when we voting for president of the united states , lets vote for the smarter guy not for the guy we want in our bbq . we'll never have a beer with potus so please lets stop thinking that way

    January 15, 2009 10:39 pm at 10:39 pm |
  8. Andy

    All of you thanking Bush for 8 years of service, should create your own country, name it "STUPIDLAND" and have HIM for a leader.

    January 15, 2009 10:58 pm at 10:58 pm |
  9. me

    thank you president bush! Godbless you and your family.. Stay healthy! U

    January 16, 2009 02:07 am at 2:07 am |
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