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. Pat J

    Liberals - get a life!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    January 15, 2009 09:02 pm at 9:02 pm |
  2. Dr.A

    During President G. W. Bush's Farewell speech he said that BEST in our nation are patriots serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. To that I say this concept sends the wrong message. If in fact the BEST in our nation is serving on battlefields Patriots or not then soon will be the DEATH of our nation. Here lies in this truth the ultimate in GOVERNMENT WASTE; the waste of Human life. Is every war worth it?

    January 15, 2009 09:03 pm at 9:03 pm |
  3. Jennifer

    A perfect speech delivered by a Godly man. Thank you, Mr. President and please keep praying for our country. When the PE takes office we are really going to need it!

    God help us then!

    January 15, 2009 09:04 pm at 9:04 pm |
  4. Chris in Va.

    @ Patrick....ask the families of the over 3000 who died on 9-11how good of a job protecting our country Bush did, ask the victims of Katrina, ask the families of the over 4000 who have died in Mr. Bush's little folly in Iraq.
    If you believe he did a good job of protecting American lives (and livlihoods) you are as full of crap as he is.

    I personally am SICK of the Republican spin on this loser.

    January 15, 2009 09:04 pm at 9:04 pm |
  5. Mark

    Thank you for protecting us from terrorists and honoring our freedoms. Don't let the libs get to you, every Obama voter has the IQ of a hammer.

    January 15, 2009 09:05 pm at 9:05 pm |
  6. BOB

    Patrick wrote:

    ""You did the job you were asked to do, protect our country, you don't need to appologize to anyone. Thank you for your 8 years of service.""

    what are you talking about moron?

    everything he touched turn to s___t

    he was and is a screwup..!!!

    Patrick get real... have you looked at your 401K yet?

    January 15, 2009 09:06 pm at 9:06 pm |
  7. John from California

    Sorry Mr. Bush, US Presidency is not an internship – NO MORE CHANCES FOR YOU ANYMORE!!! You already killed and tortured enough humans – think what you are going to explain in the day of judgement.

    January 15, 2009 09:08 pm at 9:08 pm |
  8. Pat J

    Hang it up, haters! None of YOU knew what would happen after 9/11! But today you're safe. Wonder how you'll be in six months! Good luck!

    January 15, 2009 09:09 pm at 9:09 pm |
  9. Fearing Inauguration Day

    I have been able to sleep without fear of a terrorist attack on American soul with Bush in office, but as inauguration day approaches I am fearful that the new president isn't going to be able to handle what our enemies throw our way soon. Let's face it, they are going to test Obama and he has zip, zero, nada, none in the war experience department. Pray, pray, pray!

    January 15, 2009 09:09 pm at 9:09 pm |
  10. jerry

    once again, dems show how hateful they are, get over it, he did a great job and you wimps who hate war, my god help us If we do get attack again.

    January 15, 2009 09:09 pm at 9:09 pm |
  11. Chris in Va.

    @ Bush Haters where are you?.......kiss my arse! We are sick of you Republican scum and your half witted posts, go to hell.

    January 15, 2009 09:09 pm at 9:09 pm |
  12. Perusing-through

    BUSH QUOTE: "I have followed my conscience and done what I thought was right."
    – – – – –

    WHAT? ? ? Hey George, having a conscience and doing what you "THOUGHT WAS RIGHT", does not make righteous your "decisions of disastrous consequences" and neither does it add any value to your decisions.

    And another thing, having a 'conscience' is a good thing, but when warped by years of recklessness and belligerence it becomes contaminated and improperly skewed.

    January 15, 2009 09:10 pm at 9:10 pm |
  13. Bill in Ct.

    Why the hell isn't this guy in jail. Lets start from the beginning: 1: Stole the election in 2000 in Florida. 2: Lied to the country about WMDs. 3: sent innocent men and women to invade another country. 4: thousand of people killed, behind his lies,( TROOPS ), thousand of Iraqies dead, and still counting. 4: help to deregulate the banking system. 5: Cut taxes for the rich, even when they never ask for them. 6: Spying on people without an warrant. 7: Stole the election in 04, in Ohio. 8: 2005 Hurricane Katrina, where 1800 people died from sitting around waiting for help in the flood. He said, he never known that people were trap in New Orleans until 4 days later, even when it was all over the news. 9: throwing innocent people in jail for free. 10: Order ( TORTURING ), which is against the law, which they admitted to it the other day. 11: Mortgage collapse. 12: financial melt down. 13: Billions of dollars being spent in Iraq a month. 14: Gas prices out of control. 15: people losing jobs by the thousands, b/c we're spending 10 billion dollars in Iraq a month. 16: the federal deficit at an all time high. Mind you now when he stole the office we had a surplus of a trillion dollars, not anymore. 17: 2008, the country is going down the drain b/c of this idiot and the right wing nuts in this country. Now those some criminals have been on TV, trying to make this THUG look like he kept this country safe and his administration was the best thing for this country, PLEASE!!!!!!! So criminal Bush can those families you have destroyed get their love ones back behind your lies to this country, NNNNOOOO. I say, BUSH, CHANEY, RICE, RUMSFIELD, HANNITY, and RUSH LIM. and the whole Fox News station should be put in jail and the key should be melted down so they can never get out. GOOD BYE KILLER BUSH

    January 15, 2009 09:10 pm at 9:10 pm |
  14. Priscilla

    President Bush, you fought a good fight, you kept the faith, and you have finished your course.

    God Bless you and your famiy!

    January 15, 2009 09:14 pm at 9:14 pm |

    G O O D B Y E !

    January 15, 2009 09:17 pm at 9:17 pm |
  16. IMO - Michigan

    bob January 15th, 2009 6:32 pm ET

    He did a great job for the country.


    What???? Yeah, we're doing great right now, here and abroad. Dear God, no wonder the Republican party is crumbling. Denial is a destructive force, go get some help for it.

    January 15, 2009 09:17 pm at 9:17 pm |
  17. HAWK

    How about doing everything different. JERK

    January 15, 2009 09:29 pm at 9:29 pm |
  18. Mike

    The consistent lack of awareness he shows is disgusting.

    January 15, 2009 09:30 pm at 9:30 pm |
  19. ah

    I believe he came to the oval office with best intentions. Who knows how many of the who hate/criticize would do better. To lead a country is not easy job. It is easy to criticize. There are better leaders, and there are worse, and there are terrible
    ....just the pure fanatic hate is shocking.
    He tried, he said what he had on his mind.
    I loved Clinton's times.

    January 15, 2009 09:32 pm at 9:32 pm |
  20. sandee in Portland

    So many people say they felt safe with Bush in the White House and that PE Obama has no experience in dealing with terrorists and they fear there will be another attack now that Bush is leaving.

    Bush also had no experience in dealing with terrorist attacks and did not prevent 9/11 even though our intelligence agencies knew something was going to happen. Obama will do just fine with whatever he does, will be done with more forethought than Bush ever put into any decision.

    @Mark..I beg to differ that every Obama voter has the IQ of a hammer (I think you're talking about the right wing evangelical, trailer living Republicans. Most of Obama's voter's are actually college graduates. Most of Bush's supporters are replica's of Sarah Palin, ya betcha!

    January 15, 2009 09:41 pm at 9:41 pm |
  21. Butch Dillon

    The republicans who post in opposition to the people who justifiably rant at Bush should remember that his approval rating was 92% after September 11, 2001. He was given every chance possible and all the support he could count but still managed to turn everyone against him. It took some miserable leadership on his part for his approval rating to fall into, and remain in the low 30%s and mid 20%s for several years. No wonder everyone is glad to see him go.

    January 15, 2009 09:42 pm at 9:42 pm |
  22. Matt

    Bush has messed everything up in this country... PERIOD... He has done nothing right... It has been discussed how he picks and chooses his morals/conscience especially when it comes to the Stem Cell research (which some extreme right Republicans actually voted for) but when it comes to the thousands of troops that died in a stupid war that is fine. What??!!!

    He will go down as the worst present in all US history. Even Nixon, when compared with Bush, has some redeeming qualities...

    January 15, 2009 09:43 pm at 9:43 pm |
  23. foxrun

    It's amazing to see the shallow nature of human kind. Those who call themselves "liberals" and "peace loving people" are nothing more than hypocrites. They don't really love the world and wish peace on earth; instead they lash out with vindictive words. You should be ashamed of yourselves and take a look in the mirror.

    You should then think to yourselves, how nice it is to be able to look into a mirror and to be alive. The innocent people in the twin towers of Sept 11th, 2001 no longer have that chance...the chance to look into a mirror.

    One thing that can be said about the last 7 years...we haven't been attacked again. I wonder who did that for us.

    So...why don't you quit being so hypocritical and "look in the mirror".

    – Sad American

    January 15, 2009 09:43 pm at 9:43 pm |
  24. Rick Sutter

    Bill in Ct. – You seem to be a bitter little man. Now you can sit back and bask in the anti-Obama comments for four years. I, for one, am going to enjoy it.

    January 15, 2009 09:44 pm at 9:44 pm |
  25. Scot

    To "Republican hate America"....You're a real tough guy...calling people morons from a blog.....I GUARANTEE you you would not say that to my face.....You're a coward.....Your logic is simple....if someone doesn't agree with you, then they are a moron.....That's intelligent

    January 15, 2009 09:44 pm at 9:44 pm |
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