NEW YORK — President Bush listed some of the regrets from his presidency Tuesday, particularly the display of the “Mission Accomplished” sign as backdrop for a speech he gave about a month after the March 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq.
“To some, it said, well, ‘Bush thinks the war in Iraq is over,’ when I didn’t think that,” he said in a CNN interview in New York. “It conveyed the wrong message.”
The sign was hung on the USS Abraham Lincoln on May 1, 2003, when Bush landed on the carrier wearing a flight suit to declare that major combat operations in Iraq were over. That speech has since served as a rallying point for critics of Bush’s policies in Iraq.
“I regret saying some things I shouldn’t have said,” Bush added. He cited comments he made after the Sept. 11 attacks, when he said of al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden: “I want justice. There’s an old poster out West that said, ‘Wanted, dead or alive.’ ”
He also said he regretted telling Iraqi insurgents in 2003: “There are some who feel like that the conditions are such that they can attack us there. My answer is, bring ’em on.”
Bush said, “My wife reminded me that, ‘Hey, as president of the United States, be careful what you say.’ ”
Bush also described his meeting Monday at the White House with his successor, President-elect Barack Obama.
“It was interesting to watch him go upstairs,” Bush said of Obama’s visit. “He wanted to see where his little girls were going to sleep. Clearly, this guy is going to bring a sense of family to the White House, and I hope Laura and I did the same thing.”