George Bush used his last scheduled press conference today to reflect on his eight years in power, admit failings and wish his successor "all the very best".
The outgoing president said that he had made mistakes during his tenure, describing the lack of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq as a "huge disappointment".
But he disagreed with the assessment that people around the world viewed America "in a dim light" adding that it was a country that "cared deeply about the universality of freedom".
Appearing in front of the White House press corps for possibly the last time, President Bush initially appeared relaxed as he joked with journalists.
Thanking them, he added that at times he did not like the stories they wrote about him.
"Sometimes you misunderestimated me," he told them, recalling a celebrated "Bushism" from his first years in office.
He then went on to comment on the forthcoming transfer of power to Barack Obama and next week's inauguration.
"I genuinely mean what I say, I wish him all the very best," President Bush said.
He added: "I consider myself fortunate to have a front row seat for what is going to be a historic moment for the country.
"President-elect Obama's election speaks volumes about how far this country has come."
But he added that the responsibility of the job will land "squarely on his shoulders" when Obama enters the Oval Office following the inauguration.
Mr Bush said that alongside the worsening economy, an attack on America remained the top threat facing the incoming administration.
"There is still an enemy out there that wants to inflict damage on America and Americans," he said.
He added that North Korea was still a problem and that Iran was "still dangerous".
Turning to his own record, the President said mistakes had been made in relation to Iraq.
"Clearly putting mission accomplished on an aircraft carrier was a mistake, it sent out the wrong message. Obviously some of my rhetoric has been a mistake."
"There have been disappointments. Abu Ghraib was a huge disappointment. Not having weapons of mass destruction was a huge disappointment. I do not know if you want to call it a mistake or not, but things didn't go as planned."
He added: "You can only make decisions on the information at hand. You stand by your decisions and you do your best to explain why you made the decisions you made."
But he denied that the US's world standing had been damaged during his tenure as President.
"I disagree with the assessment that people view America in a dim light," he said.
"Most people around the world respect America. Some of them do not like me but I'm more concerned about the country and people view the United States of America as a state of compassionate people that care deeply about the universality of freedom."
Mr Bush's tenure will end next week when Barack Obama is sworn in as President.
And the outgoing president suggested that he had no desire to give his successor a rough ride in public.
"When I get out of here, I'm getting off the stage," Mr Bush said.