WASHINGTON - (AP) - In his final address to the nation, PresidentGeorge W. Bush defended his tumultuous two terms and reached backto a day when the public rallied around him after the Sept. 11terrorist attacks, saying anew that the U.S. will "never tire,never falter and never fail."
Reflecting on his presidency, Bush said he followed hisconscience and always acted in the best interests of the nation.
"You may not agree with some tough decisions I have made, but Ihope you can agree that I was willing to make the toughdecisions," Bush said, according to a prepared text of hisprime-time speech released in advance by the White House.
A bookend to eight years indelibly marked by terrorism, twowars, recessions and a push for democracy, the brief speech offeredBush one last chance before he leaves office Tuesday to defend hispresidency and craft a first draft of his legacy for historians. Hebegan his speech in the East Room of the White House with just 112hours left in office.
It was his final public appearance until he greetsPresident-elect Barack Obama on Inauguration Day at the WhiteHouse's North Portico.
Bush called the inauguration of Obama, the first blackpresident, a "moment of hope and pride" for America.
"Standing on the steps of the Capitol will be a man whose storyreflects the enduring promise of our land," he said in wishing thebest to Obama, incoming first lady Michelle Obama and their twodaughters.
Bush's presidency began with the worst terrorist attack on U.S.soil and ends with the worst economic collapse in threegenerations.
"Facing the prospect of a financial collapse, we took decisivemeasures to safeguard our economy," he said. "These are verytough times for hardworking families, but the toll would be farworse if we had not acted. All Americans are in this together. Andtogether, with determination and hard work, we will restore oureconomy to the path of growth. We will show the world once againthe resilience of America's free enterprise system."
Watch the president?s full farewell address
Read the text of the speech