Nov. 12 (Bloomberg) -- President George W. Bush said he regrets the display of the ``Mission Accomplished'' sign as backdrop for a speech he gave about a month after the March 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq.
``To some, it said, well, `Bush thinks the war in Iraq is over,' when I didn't think that,'' he said in a CNN interview today. ``It conveyed the wrong message.''
The sign was hung on the U.S.S. Abraham Lincoln on May 1, 2003, when Bush landed on the carrier wearing a flight suit to declare that major combat operations in Iraq were over. That speech has since served as a rallying point for critics of Bush's policies in Iraq.
Bush also cited other regrets in the CNN interview, which was conducted aboard the U.S.S. Intrepid in New York after a Veterans Day ceremony.
``I regret saying some things I shouldn't have said,'' Bush said. He cited comments he made after the Sept. 11 attacks, when he said of al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden: ``I want justice. There's an old poster out West that said, 'Wanted, dead or alive.'''
He also said he regretted telling Iraqi insurgents in 2003: ``There are some who feel like that the conditions are such that they can attack us there. My answer is, bring 'em on.''
In the interview yesterday, he said, ``My wife reminded me that, `hey, as president of the United States, be careful what you say.'''
Bush, 62, also described his Nov. 10 meeting at the White House with his successor, President-elect Barack Obama, and said he asked former President Bill Clinton for advice on handling the transition.
``It was interesting to watch him go upstairs,'' Bush said of Obama's visit. ``He wanted to see where his little girls were going to sleep. Clearly, this guy is going to bring a sense of family to the White House, and I hope Laura and I did the same thing. But I believe he will, and I know his girls are on his mind and he wants to make sure that first and foremost, he is a good dad.''
Bush said he would return to Texas when he hands over the presidency Jan. 20 and may write a book.
``I want people to know what it was like to make some of the decisions I had to make,'' he said. ``I've had one of those presidencies where I've had to make some tough calls, and I want people to know the truth about what it was like sitting in the Oval Office.''
To contact the reporter on this story: Holly Rosenkrantz in Washington at [email protected]