Bush Bids Nation Farewell in Final Address

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In his farewell address to the nation Thursday night, President Bush harkened back to the days following the Sept. 11 attacks, declaring once again that this country will "never tire, never falter, and never fail."

In a veiled tones, Bush acknowledged his low approval ratings as he leaves office. He agreed that while he hit a few "bumps" during his two terms, he acted in the country's best interest.

Click play to watch CBN News Reporter Dale Hurd's look back on on Bush's tenure in office.  Click here to watch President Bush's entire farewell address.

The past eight years as President he said have been filled with "good days and tough days."

"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," he said.

Bush spoke from the East Room of the White House with just 112 hours left in his presidency.

"Like all who have held this office before me, I have experienced setbacks," Bush said. "And 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. I have followed my conscience and done what I thought was right."

The Day that Changed a Presidency

Bush began his address by recalling the speech he gave just after the Sept. 11 attacks, the day that changed the course of his presidency.

"That morning, terrorists took nearly 3,000 lives in the worst attack on America since Pearl Harbor," he said. "I remember standing in the rubble of the World Trade Center three days later, surrounded by rescuers who had been working around the clock. I remember talking to brave souls who charged through smoke-filled corridors at the Pentagon and to husbands and wives whose loved ones became heroes aboard Flight 93."

Many Americans moved on, Bush said, "but I never did."

He added that the nation is more secure now than it was in 2001, labeling the improvement in U.S. security as one of his proudest achievements since taking office.

"Our nation is equipped with new tools to monitor the terrorists' movements, freeze their finances, and break up their plots," Bush said. "And with strong allies at our side, we have taken the fight to the terrorists and those who support them."

He warned that the country still has a long way to go in the war on terror and that "we must never let down our guard."

"The gravest threat to our people remains another terrorist attack," he said. "Our enemies are patient and determined to strike again."

Touting Accomplishments

Though Bush leaves office with one of the highest disapproval ratings, he has been hailed for his work against AIDS and malaria in Africa. The administration committed $1.2 billion in funding through its Malaria Initiative--a cause on track to lower malaria deaths by 50 percent in Sub-Saharan Africa.

"Around the world, America is promoting human liberty, human rights, and human dignity," Bush said. "We are standing with dissidents and young democracies, providing AIDS medicine to bring dying patients back to life, and sparing mothers and babies from malaria."

Bush also touted his domestic record, saying he presided over higher standards in public schools, a new Medicare prescription drug benefit, lower income taxes, more help for people suffering from drug addiction and the appointment of two justices to the Supreme Court.

He embraced the fact that the nation is experiencing tough economic times, arguing that his administration's swift action is working to avert an even deeper crisis.

"These are very tough times for hardworking families, but the toll would be far worse if we had not acted," he said. "All Americans are in this together. And together, with determination and hard work, we will restore our economy to the path of growth."

A New Chapter in America

He commended the nomination Barack Obama as the first black President, calling it a "moment of pride" for America.

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

About 200 people gathered at the White House to hear the President's speech. Bush will hand the baton off to Obama next Tuesday.

As Bush left the podium, he walked alone down the red-carpeted hallway toward the White House residence.

Then, he returned to the room - full of Cabinet secretaries and allies, advisers and friends - still on their feet, cheering. Bush and first lady Laura Bush greeted the guests. Across the room, their daughter, Barbara, wiped away tears with both hands. Her sister, Jenna Hager, touched her on her shoulder as their father said his final farewell.

Sources: CBN News., The Associated Press, ABC News

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