In Last Presser, Bush Hotly Defends Record, Owns Regrets

President doesn't indulge in self-pity in final news conference
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 12, 2009 9:25 AM CST
President George W. Bush gestures during a news conference today.   (AP Photo)
camera-icon View 3 more images

(Newser) – In what he called the “ultimate exit interview,” President Bush defended his record and the talents of his team, dismissed his critics, acknowledged some mistakes, and had words of advice for his successor. In a wide-ranging, emotional, and occasionally poignant farewell press conference, Bush said it wasn’t in his nature to avoid controversy. He urged Barack Obama to “do what he thinks is right,” regardless of criticism, as he did. Otherwise, “I don’t see how you can live with yourself.”

Bush admitted some mistakes, such as the infamous “Mission Accomplished” incident, but other times struck a defensive tone. “Don’t tell me the federal response was slow,” he said hotly of Hurricane Katrina, citing 30,000 people rescued from their roofs. He also said he’d request the remaining $350 billion in bailout funds if Obama asked him to, but that the president-elect hasn’t done so.