Bush’s Final Curtain Call

By Lee Speigel

Jan 15, 2009 9:37pm

ABC News’ Jennifer Duck reports: President Bush made his final public appearance before inauguration day with a farewell address to the nation highlighting and defending his past eight years as commander in chief.   

"There have been good days and tough days," the president said.  "But every day I have been inspired by the greatness of our country and uplifted by the goodness of our people."

Seemingly content with his two terms, he got through the speech with a smile and less emotion than witnessed in other farewell addresses, such as the tears seen when he addressed his staff on the South Lawn in November and even the emotional looks he had earlier in the day as he said goodbye to staff at the State Department.

"I have been blessed to represent this Nation we love," he said in the final minute of his thirteen minute speech.  "And I will always be honored to carry a title that means more to me than any other: citizen of the United States of America."

He spoke of the future and gave well wishes to President-elect Barack Obama who will take over the Oval Office on Tuesday.

"Standing on the steps of the Capitol will be a man whose history reflects the enduring promise of our land," President Bush said.  "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."

The president also spoke of setbacks saying in general there were a few things we would’ve "done differently" if he had the chance . 

"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," he said.  "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."

Rather than hurrying from the podium as he tends to do after big speeches, the 43rd president lingered for just a few seconds taking it all in and smiling at the live audience before him.

He strolled off on the red carpet laid out in the East Room of the White House as the big brown oak doors were closed by his two members of his staff.  Then, unexpectedly the doors reopened and the president appeared for a proper curtain call.

He came out smiling and waving, giving hugs and kisses.  At one point his twin daughters Jenna and Barbara engulfed their dad in a big hug.

He left the room with a confident stride and didn’t look back as he turned toward the residence of the White House.

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