Bush Gets Emotional Over White House Transition

ABC News' Jennifer Duck Reports: President Bush became visibly emotional after speaking about the transition of his presidential powers to President-elect Barack Obama and his team.

After a private meeting with his cabinet, President Bush spoke publicly to around 1,000 White House staffers on the South Lawn.

The administration has been touting their transition efforts which have been underway for over a year.

"This peaceful transfer of power is one of the hallmarks of a true democracy.  And ensuring that this transition is as smooth as possible is a priority for the rest of my presidency," Bush said. 

The president and First Lady have invited the Obama family to the White House and announced Thursday he will personally speak with the president-elect next week on issues ranging from financial markets to the war in Iraq. 

"I look forward to discussing those issues with the president-elect early next week," Bush said.

"We face economic challenges that will not pause to let a new president settle in.  This will also be America's first wartime presidential transition in four decades," he noted, adding, "For the next 75 days, all of us must ensure that the next president and his team can hit the ground running."

Although his party didn't win, President Bush was gracious to President-elect Obama saying it is "an exciting time for our country" and noting voter turnout was one of the highest in history. 

"No matter how we cast our ballots, this election gives us all reason to be proud of our democracy and our country.  And I hope you will join Laura and me in congratulating President-elect Obama and wishing him the very best for his family and our country."

The president took a moment to address the personal issue of White House staffers leaving their posts on Inauguration Day.

"As January 20th draws near, some of you may be anxious about finding a new job or a new place to live.  I know how you feel," Bush told them with a laugh.  "But between now and then we must keep our attention on the task at hand, because the American people expect no less."

The president became emotional when wrapping up his speech.  Visibly moved, Bush bit his lip and the First Lady gave him a hug.

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