» Download Audio
By Paula Wolfson
11 January 2009
Both the incoming and outgoing Presidents of the United States were interviewed Sunday on American television. George W. Bush looked back on his eight years in office, while Barack Obama looked ahead to the challenges he will face as the nation's new chief executive.
|President-elect Barack Obama (l) and President Bush at the White House, 07 Jan 2009|
President Bush focused on the past, defending his record in office.
He told the Fox News Sunday program that he is proud of his accomplishments.
"I know I gave it my all for eight years and I did not sell my soul for the sake of popularity," said President Bush.
He leaves office with low public approval ratings, and turns over to his successor a nation that is at war and in the midst of an economic crisis.
Appearing on ABC's This Week, President-elect Obama said tough economic choices lie ahead. He was asked questions submitted by thousands of viewers. Most dealt with the economy. They want to know if he can repair the damage.
"I think we can fix this," said Mr. Obama. "But it is going to take some time. It is not going to happen overnight."
Later, he was asked about the controversial U.S. detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Mr. Obama said it will be shut down, but it will take more time than first thought to resolve all the legal issues involved and come up with a new process for handling terror detainees.
"We are going to make sure that the procedures that we set up are ones that abide by our Constitution," he said. "That is not only the right thing to do, but actually has to be part of our broader national security strategy because we will send a message to the world that we are serious about our values."
Mr. Obama also restated his concern about the latest round of violence in the Middle East, saying his administration will be involved in seeking a solution. And he said he believes one of the biggest challenges he will face is Iran.
"We are going to have to take a new approach," said Barack Obama. "And I have outlined my belief that engagement is the place to start."
Barack Obama meets on Monday with Mexican President Felipe Calderon - his first one-on-one session with a foreign leader since his election victory in November.
Meanwhile, work is almost finished on the inauguration platform at the Capitol, and the parade reviewing stands outside the White House.
Record crowds are expected to brave a likely January chill for the swearing in of the nation's 44th president.
Even his political foes say they are looking forward to seeing history made on January 20 - among them Vice-President Dick Cheney.
"I have the same feeling that I think many Americans have, that it is really remarkable that what we are going to do here in a few days is swear in the first African-American President of the United States," said Mr. Cheney.
Cheney appeared on CNN's Late Edition program.