January 16th, 2009
04:03 PM ET
13 years ago

Obama says he always thought Bush was a 'good guy'

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/01/16/art.king.obama.cnn.jpg caption="Obama sat down with CNN's John King Friday."](CNN) - After two years of traveling around the country criticizing President Bush, President-elect Barack Obama said Friday that he “always thought [Bush] was a good guy.”

“I mean, I think personally he is a good man who loves his family and loves his country,” Obama said in an exclusive interview with CNN’s John King.

During the election season, Obama frequently campaigned against what he called Bush's "failed policies" and promised a “clean break” from the past eight years.

Asked if there was anything he wanted to take back, now that he has spent more time with the president, Obama praised Bush’s team for helping with a smooth transition and said part of what America is about is being able to have “disagreements politically and yet treat each other civilly.”

Obama also said he thought Bush made “the best decisions that he could at times under some very difficult circumstances.”

Watch: 'We're going to have a tough year in 2009,' says Obama

“That does not detract from my assessment that over the last several years we have made a series of bad choices and we are now going to be inheriting the consequences of a lot of those bad choices,” Obama said.

In addition to his relationship with Bush, Obama also discussed some key issues that he will face in the first days of his administration, including national security and the economy.

Obama sat down with King following a factory tour in Bedford Heights, Ohio.

The interview will air in full Friday at 6 pm on "The Situation Room."

Filed under: Candidate Barack Obama
soundoff (44 Responses)
  1. KMAN

    Now here is one area where I totally disagree with Mr. Obama ... Bush is a dumb @ss criminal and he and his whole administration should be indicted! War criminals without a doubt ... no reason to pretend otherwise. Bush is a simpleton without a conscience!

    January 16, 2009 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  2. KMAN


    You are an idiot!

    January 16, 2009 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  3. Adam

    Of course you would think Obama sounds spineless, James, for saying something good about President Bush. It doesn't fit your Bush hating agenda. Common sense dictates that President-elect Obama would know more about George W. Bush as a man than you or I would, because he has actually met him and talked to him.

    I think the only people who hated George W. Bush or thought that he had selfish intentions were people who wanted to hate him. I have seen nothing in the past eight years that suggested that President Bush is a bad person. He may have m ade some decisions that seem poor in retrospect, but I have no doubts that he did what he thought to be the best. I am not sure by any means tat anyone would have done better than he did given the events he had to deal with.

    January 16, 2009 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  4. Mike in Philly

    "and we will give Obama the same respect and treatment that all you democrats gave Bush."

    Ah, so you will act like the people you say you don't respect. I see.

    Pot. Kettle.


    January 16, 2009 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  5. Akinola - Houston

    Without a Bush, there would never have been an Obama.....that much we can be grateful for. So lets thanks Bushbaby for giving us BO.

    Oh one more thing, I need a new TV, i knocked mine off last night when i threw a shoe at it, that Bush speech was to blame.

    January 16, 2009 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  6. CG

    "OH NO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! What are all of you kook, dim-witted libs gonna do now? Your chosen one, your messiah, the saviour of all your ills said that he thinks Bush is a good guy. The same Bush whom you've spent countless weeks filling these boards up with your half-witted, insane, lunatic ramblings about how Bush is a war criminal.

    What will you do?!?!?!?!?!?!? What will you do?!?!?!?!

    Wait!!! Maybe Bush and Cheney hypmotized him! Yeah, that's it!!!!!"

    Us "Libs" are much more tolerant than the right wingers and more accepting of people failures. I too think Bush is a "good guy", but he was not fit to be our president.

    January 16, 2009 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  7. donna

    to all you Bush bashers, after 4 years of the Democratic White House, ask yourselves after paying higher taxes and all the other ills we will be confronted with if you are better off? Will you feel safe to walk the streets of your neighborhood, or your closest major city? Whether or not you like President Bush, he dealt with crises that no other president before him had to and the new president will continue to be responsible for protecting our shores. 9/11 forever changed this nation and there are still those that seek to hurt us in any way that they can. Are you comfortable with the president elect dealing with the likes of Bin Laden, Al Queda, etc? Whether or not you agree with anything that President Bush did, he has admitted mistakes but he did help this nation heal after 9/11. None of you bashers could have done any better, you just talk a good talk but you don't know the walk.

    January 16, 2009 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  8. boered1


    actually considering the circumstances around bush's appointment as president and the way the republicans tried for 8 years to destroy clinton prior to bush's selection democrats gave bush a great deal of respect, even after he failed to keep us safe on 9/11 we supported him, but when he failed to do what he promised after 9/11 you know go after the "bad guys" and instead invaded a country that had done us no harm, when he failed to help our citizens in New Orleans, and STILL has not managed to bring back all those who were evacuated. When he lied to us abpout KNOWING EXACTLY WHERE THE WMDs were, when he allowed torture to be used in violation to OUR LAWS(and denied it), when he spied on American citizens without a warrant, when he imprisoned AN AMERICAN CITIZEN WITHOUT CHARGES AND TORTURED HIM (Padilla) AND SENT CITIZENS FROM CANADA WHO HAPPENED TO HAVE THE SAME NAME AS SOMEONE ON THE TSA's WATCH LIST to Jordan to be tortured and held for over a year.. well lets just say these things caused us to lose respect for his policies and eventually for him

    January 16, 2009 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  9. obama-mama

    Rob January 16th, 2009 4:19 pm ET

    OH NO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! What are all of you kook, dim-witted libs gonna do now? Your chosen one, your messiah, the saviour of all your ills said that he thinks Bush is a good guy. The same Bush whom you've spent countless weeks filling these boards up with your half-witted, insane, lunatic ramblings about how Bush is a war criminal.

    What will you do?!?!?!?!?!?!? What will you do?!?!?!?!

    Wait!!! Maybe Bush and Cheney hypmotized him! Yeah, that's it!!!!!

    You are a first rate clown. See you don't understand that Obama is a true human being and a gentleman and is not disrespectful. You right wingers were hoping he would act like an ape so can have something to talk about.

    January 16, 2009 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  10. Craig Nazor

    If we are ever to get beyond the nasty partisan fighting based on ideology and personality, we have to acknowledge that most people are really doing the best they can. I believe that George W. Bush really did the best job he could.

    It was just an awfully lousey job. In my opinion, he never had the "right stuff" to be president in the first place. People voted for him out of ideology and personality and who they thought he was, and many were not paying attention.

    Well, America's present situation has now at least gotten everyone's attention. It's just too bad it took getting where we now are to get that attention.

    January 16, 2009 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  11. Melissa

    lol. Bush IS a nice guy. He's just an weak minded idiot that lets his underlings control him.

    I think Obama is being very nice and making an attempt at being a gracious gentleman rather than slamming the former President.

    January 16, 2009 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  12. obama-mama

    james January 16th, 2009 4:35 pm ET

    As a big Obama supporter, he is starting to sound spineless

    Why does he sound spineless? Because he's not cussing and rubbing GW's mistakes in his face. That comes from humility and maturity......Grow up

    January 16, 2009 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  13. Veteran in Kansas

    Rick -you mean the same respect that you showed Bill Clinton from his first day in office to his last when gave America a "Balanced Budget" and a "Surplus".

    Let's see 9/12 Bush had an approval rating in excess of 90%, leaves office with an approavl rating of less than the nation has registered republicans, actually the lowest approval rating possibily in the nations history, and now I am a register republican is one so tread lightly, I have no problem what so ever proclaiming that the Bush White House is a total failure at just about everything it came in contact with.

    Bad counselling, bad advice and bad decisions to not mean the man as a whole is bad, just means he does not have very good judgement. An individual who refuses to give a person a chance now, that is a very special type of bigot in deed.

    I know every Real American out there is going to wish President elect Obama the very best and do everything in their power to help bring this nation back from the very edge of disater that we find our selves to day.

    January 16, 2009 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  14. tired of corporate politicians

    The book Animal Farm: Once he moves to the farm house, the way things are won't seem so bad and won't really have to change much…

    January 16, 2009 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  15. Get Real!!

    Do you think that maybe Obama is realizing that being the President of the United States is no cake walk? Maybe now he is realizing that President Bush had EVERYTHING drop in his lap nine months after he took office? I think Obama is finally realizing the enormous challenges of the office and that maybe he'll have to make the tough decisions and have the same people who bash President Bush will soon be coming after him.

    Oh, and to "Rob" I couldn't agree with you more! Thanks.

    January 16, 2009 06:48 pm at 6:48 pm |
  16. Ken

    Wow, what a gracious thing to say Barack "pompous, arrogant, disaster about to happen" Obama. You are truly full of yourself, something that should definitely make the terrorists job easier.

    Well done!

    January 16, 2009 08:10 pm at 8:10 pm |
  17. Gayle/Veteran

    Bush is a loser, with a big "L". He was the worst president this country EVER had. Kick him all the way back to crawford...

    Bush lied, over 4,000 troops have died!!!

    January 16, 2009 08:10 pm at 8:10 pm |
  18. SueB

    I think Obama is only now beginning to digest just exactly what he got himself in to. Go back and look at footage from election night. That was when it first became clear to me that Obama really never expected to win. He had a look of oh my gosh, almost panic, now what do I do when it was certain he had won. He's either going to become a puppet of Pelosi and Reid or they will ensure that he fails miserably. He's already caved to them on some of his transition planning ideas, and he hasn't even gotten in to office yet. I was hoping despite all the rhetoric that he would govern from a more centrist position, but Nancy and Harry have told everyone in no uncertain terms that they are in charge and he will do what they want. Should be a heck of a ride for the next 4 years. Hope we don't crash and burn on the way.

    January 16, 2009 09:32 pm at 9:32 pm |
  19. Step up

    The job is harder then it looks.

    I'm sure a junior Senator with a history of voting present will do just fine. Or else we will all be saying what a good guy Obama was in 2012 as Mitt takes office.

    Step up or shut up

    January 16, 2009 09:58 pm at 9:58 pm |
1 2