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By Paula Wolfson
13 January 2009
U.S. President George Bush says he is leaving office with a record of accomplishment, and says he is going back to Texas with his head held high. Mr. Bush spoke during a farewell meeting with his Cabinet.
|President George W. Bush holds a closing meeting for his Cabinet at the White House, 13 Jan 2009|
Applause was heard from the Cabinet meeting room at the White House as the session came to an end.
When reporters walked in a minute or so later, the president was offering his thanks to all those who have served during his eight years in office.
"This administration has had a good and solid record and I am very proud of it. I tell people that I leave town with a great sense of accomplishment and my head held high," Mr. Bush said.
He spoke of progress in areas from education to the environment. But he said the biggest achievement of his administration has been keeping America safe.
"Most of all, we protected this country from harm. And we did so by providing tools for our professionals as well as asking our military to do hard work which they have done time and time again," Mr. Bush said.
As he spoke, members of the incoming Obama administration were at the White House for an unprecedented national security drill.
Working with officials from the Bush team, they rehearsed how the United States would handle a hypothetical terrorist attack.
The exercise is part of an ongoing effort to make the transition from one president to the next as seamless as possible.
President Bush's chief of staff, Josh Bolten, says much is at stake.
"As Republicans and Democrats, we disagree on a lot of policy issues but we agree completely that we want this new team to be as successful as they possibly can be especially in the areas of national and homeland security," Bolten said.
Incoming Obama chief of staff Rahm Emmanuel agrees.
"There is no higher task to any administration than protecting the American people," Emmanuel said.
This is the first change of administration since the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States. And while similar exercises are held throughout the year for government officials, this is the first time teams from the incoming and outgoing administrations have held a joint drill.