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Bush Bids Farewell At News Conference


From NPR News, this is All Things Considered. I'm Michele Norris.


And I'm Melissa Block. With eight days until President-elect Barack Obama takes the oath of office, President Bush is saying his goodbyes. Today, it was farewell to the White House press corps.

President GEORGE W. BUSH (United States of America): As I looked to the room, I see Jake, Mike, Herman, Ann Compton. Just seemed like yesterday that I was on the campaign trail and you were analyzing my speeches and my policies.

BLOCK: They tried a bit more of that analysis at the president's final scheduled news conference.

Unidentified Man: I'm wondering if you plan to ask Congress for the remaining $350 billion...

Unidentified Woman: Do you believe that the Gaza conflict will have ended by the time you leave office?

Unidentified Man: Do you think the Republican Party needs to be more inclusive? Who needs to hear that message inside the Republican Party?

NORRIS: Mr. Bush took on some of those questions, but at turns, he was jovial, even a little punchy, calling on reporters by name one last time.

President BUSH: Yeah, Suzanne. I finally got your name right after...

Ms. SUZANNE MALVEAUX (Reporter, CNN, White House Correspondent): Yes.

President BUSH: ...how many years? Six years.

Ms. MALVEAUX: Eight years.

President BUSH: Eight years.

Ms. MALVEAUX: Thank you.

(Soundbite of laughter)

President BUSH: You used to be known as Susanne, now you're Suzanne.

Ms. MALVEAUX: Suzanne. Thank you.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. MALVEAUX: Oh, you're...

President BUSH: I'm George.

(Soundbite of laughter)

NORRIS: President George Walker Bush's administration turned out to be one of the more closed administrations. One-on-one interviews were rare. Questions have gone unanswered.

BLOCK: Remember this exchange with reporter John Dickerson, then with Time magazine? This was April, 2004.

(Soundbite of Time magazine's interview with President George W. Bush, April, 2004)

Mr. JOHN DICKERSON (Reporter, Time Magazine): In the last campaign, you were asked the question about the biggest mistake you've made in your life and you used to like to joke it was trading Sammy Sosa. You've looked back before 9/11 for what mistakes might have been made after 9/11. What would your biggest mistake be, would you say, and what lessons have you learned from it?

President BUSH: Hmm. I wish you'd have given me this written question ahead of time so I can plan for it. Aah...

BLOCK: President Bush paused.

President BUSH: You know, I just - I'm sure something will pop in my head here in the midst of this press conference after all the pressure of trying to come up with an answer, but I hadn't yet.

BLOCK: That was 2004. Today, the answer flowed.

NORRIS: Sheryl Stolberg of The New York Times pressed President Bush about his mistakes and he said this:

President BUSH: Clearly, putting a "Mission Accomplished" on an aircraft carrier was a mistake.

NORRIS: And this.

President BUSH: I believe that running the Social Security idea right after the 04 elections was a mistake. I should have argued for immigration reform.

NORRIS: Abu Ghraib was a "disappointment," President Bush said, as was the belief that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction.

BLOCK: Mr. Bush's verdict on those missteps? Wait and see.

President BUSH: There is no such thing as short-term history. I don't think you can possibly get the full breath of an administration until time has passed.

BLOCK: That's President Bush at his last scheduled session with the White House reporters today.

President BUSH: I wish you all the very best. I wish you and your families all the best. God bless you.

Unidentified Man: Thank you, Mr. President.

(Soundbite of applause) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

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