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By Paula Wolfson
White House
01 December 2008

U.S. President George Bush is taking stock of his years in office, now that his presidency is nearing its end.  VOA White House Correspondent Paula Wolfson reports Mr. Bush says that when he was elected in 2000, he never expected he would lead the nation in a time of war.

President George W. Bush (file photo)
President George W. Bush (file photo)
As his second term enters its final days, President Bush is taking time to reflect on the events that may well shape his legacy.

In an interview with ABC television, he spoke in unusually candid terms about the achievements and disappointments of his presidency.

Mr. Bush said his biggest regret of his eight years in office was the intelligence failure in Iraq - the faulty information on weapons of mass destruction that prompted him to remove Saddam Hussein from power in 2003.

He spoke of the difficulties of leading a nation at war, and said he never thought when he first ran for the presidency that he would preside over a major conflict.

"I didn't campaign and say, 'Please vote for me, I'll be able to handle an attack.'  In other words, I didn't anticipate war," said President Bush. "[For] presidents - one of the things about the modern presidency - is that the unexpected will happen."

Mr. Bush said that during his presidency, he has had to make a lot of tough decisions.  Lately, they have revolved around efforts to revive the ailing U.S. economy.

In an interview excerpt that aired Monday on ABC's World News program, the president was asked whether he feels in any way responsible for the nation's economic woes.

"I have been president during this period of time," said Mr. Bush. "But I think when the history of this period is written, people will realize a lot of the decisions that were made on Wall Street took place over a decade or so before I arrived as president."

Mr. Bush said the economic crisis played a major role in Democrat Barack Obama's victory over Republican John McCain in last month's presidential election.

"Obviously, the economic situation made it awfully difficult for John McCain to get a message out," he said. "And I felt that Barack Obama ran a very disciplined campaign."

Mr. Bush acknowledged he never thought he would live to see an African-American as U.S. president.  But his 27-year-old daughter Barbara, who was with him during a portion of the interview, said she was not surprised to see Barack Obama make history.  


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