Nothing bitter about leaving Washington, says Bush on return to hometown Texas

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Midland (Texas, US), Jan.21 (ANI): George W. Bush and his wife Laura Bush were given a warm homecoming in the West Texas oil town of Midland on Tuesday, hours after he demitted office as the 43rd President of the United States.

Before flying off to his holiday home in Crawford, Bush told his supporters that a fellow former president had recently told him, "It's bittersweet to leave Washington."]

"For me, there's nothing to be bitter about (leaving Washington)," he said.

"Today is some kind of sweet; we are glad to be home," he said.

It was virtually a hero's return to the place where it all began for Bush, and he used opportunity to offer a mild rebuttal to his critics."I never took an opinion poll to tell me what to think," Bush said to roaring cheers in Centennial Plaza, where he began his first inaugural journey in 2001.

"When I walked out of the Oval Office this morning, I left with the same values that I took to Washington eight years ago; when I go home tonight and I look into the mirror, I'm not going to regret what I see," Fox News quoted Bush, as saying further.

"Today was a great day for America and a good man took the oath of office, and we all offer our prayers for his success," Bush said, receiving more-than-polite applause.

Nearly 1,700 miles from Washington, Bush's reception could be taken as a trip to another time in his presidency, when his style of politics, and his Republican Party, were in the ascendance.

For Bush, it was a return to the place where his immediate family's political dynasty got its start.

It was here that a young George Bush, a Connecticut native drawn by the allure of oil money nearly 50 years ago, had his first taste for politics.

It was here where his son George W. returned to try his own hand at oil and politics, losing a bid for Congress, but finding God, his wife, Laura, and a new sense of purpose.And it was here that Bush began his own inaugural journey eight years ago, telling a crowd of 15,000, "I leave here really upbeat about getting some things done for the people," and promising to do so "by putting aside all the partisan bickering and name calling and anger."

He got less done than he and his aides had hoped. And the boos that met his appearance on the Jumbotrons spread along the Mall in Washington on Tuesday served as evidence of the hot partisan anger that marked much of his term.

Still, Bush told the ardent supporters here that he was proud of his record, declaring, "We've removed threatening regimes in Afghanistan and Iraq and liberated 50 million people from tyranny."

Bush's trip home was the mirror image of his trip to Washington in January 2001, when he started out from his vacation home in Crawford, Texas., then stopped here on his way to the Capitol.

Along for the ride on Tuesday on the 747 he once knew as Air Force One - after Mr. Bush relinquished the presidency it was designated Special Air Mission 28000 - were many of the aides who helped place him in office to begin with: among them Karen Hughes, Karl Rove and Dan Bartlett.

This year, the crowd was even larger than it was on that much-colder day eight years ago and just as enthusiastic.

Remaining true to an eight-year pattern of staying mostly within the gates of the White House whenever in the capital, Bush made no last rounds there this week; he spent his last night having a quiet family dinner at home with his daughters and parents.

Bush began the last day at the White House waking early and visiting the Oval Office shortly before 7 a.m., when he began calling some of his closest aides, among them the outgoing secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice, and the outgoing national security adviser, Stephen J. Hadley. He had already left a friendly note for Mr. Obama in the top drawer of his desk on Monday, a presidential tradition.Before the new occupants of the White House arrived for a traditional coffee, Bush took a solitary stroll around the South Lawn, where he had frequently walked to clear his head during the toughest moments of the Iraq war.

Bush's face betrayed neither sorrow nor chagrin when he buoyantly greeted his successor. When Michelle Obama bounded out of the motorcade in the White House driveway, she handed Laura Bush a white package with a red ribbon that aides later said was a journal and pen for use in the writing of Mrs. Bush's planned memoir.

As the incoming and outgoing first couples walked into the presidential manse Mr. Bush patted his successor on the back.

Bush showed little sentimentality in public, though his press secretary, Dana Perino, told reporters he had gently kissed her on the forehead by way of goodbye, and he was spotted blowing a kiss back to the White House as he left for the Capitol in the presidential limousine with Obama. (ANI)

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