Bush to make farewell speech on Thursday

U.S. President George W. Bush makes a point during his final news conference in the Brady press briefing room at the White House in Washington, January 12, 2009. REUTERS/Jason Reed

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President George W. Bush will deliver a televised farewell address to the American people on Thursday night, the White House said.

Bush, who leaves office on January 20 when Barack Obama is sworn in, will give a 10-15 minute speech in front of an audience in the East Room of the White House, press secretary Dana Perino said Monday.

It will be Bush’s last scheduled public event before he steps down, and comes as he tries to burnish a presidential legacy marked by the unpopular war in Iraq and the worst financial crisis in nearly 80 years.

“This is not going to be a swan song to the president’s administration, although he will defend his record, but it will be very gracious to President-elect Obama,” Perino said.

“It’s not something where he’s trying to refight old battles. It’s a very thoughtful, forward-looking speech in which the president will share the lessons he learned in office and his views on the future,” Perino said.

The White House has asked the major television networks for a slot to broadcast his address, but an exact time has not yet been set.

Bush’s farewell speech will be in keeping with a ritual followed by his recent predecessors in the White House.

Reporting by Matt Spetalnick; Editing by Doina Chiacu