Bush to Give Farewell Address
Updated 6:56 p.m.
By Dan Eggen
President Bush will deliver a farewell address to the nation Thursday evening from the East Room of the White House, marking his last public appearance before Inauguration Day, officials announced today.
White House press secretary Dana Perino said Bush will be "continuing a ritual that dates back to George Washington" in delivering the farewell speech. The president plans to give the tradition a twist and deliver his remarks in front of a live audience of "courageous people" that Bush has met during his time in office, she said.
"He will reflect on his time in office and the ways our country has changed these past eight years," Perino said in a statement. "He will also uphold the tradition of presidents using farewell addresses to look forward -- by sharing his thoughts on greatest challenges facing the country, and on what it will take to meet them."
The White House said it has asked the television networks to dedicate broadcast time for the address, but has not yet received answers. Bush will give the speech at 8 p.m. Eastern.
The announcement of a farewell message comes on the same day that Bush held his last scheduled press conference, where he vigorously defended his tumultuous tenure while conceding to a handful of mistakes. During Thursday's address, Perino said, Bush will "defend his record" but will not be "looking to refight old battles."
"This is not going to be a swan song," Perino said.
The 15-minute address is expected to be Bush's last public event before President-elect Barack Obama arrives at the North Portico of the White House on Jan. 20 prior to the presidential inauguration. On Tuesday, Bush is also scheduled to present the Presidential Medal of Freedom to three old friends: former British prime minister Tony Blair, former Australian prime minister John Howard and Colombian President Alvaro Uribe.
Farewell addresses have taken various forms over the past two centuries, including written messages printed in newspapers by early presidents, the White House said. Bill Clinton and Ronald Reagan both delivered White House speeches, while Gerald R. Ford and Jimmy Carter delivered final "State of the Union" addresses on Capitol Hill. One notable exception was Bush's father, George H.W. Bush, who opted against a goodbye message before turning over the White House to Clinton in 1992.
Posted at 5:19 PM ET on Jan 12, 2009
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