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President Bush Congratulates Obama, Promises Smooth Transition

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President Bush has paid tribute to the historic nature of President-elect Barack Obama's victory at the polls, and promised to stay in close contact with him in the final months of his administration to ensure a smooth transition of power.  From the White House, VOA's Michael Bowman reports.

President Bush said he had telephone conversations late Tuesday with the president-elect as well as his Republican rival, Senator John McCain.

Speaking from the Rose Garden less than 24 hours after Mr. Obama's overwhelming victory, Mr. Bush, who is no stranger to partisan battles, struck a distinctly non-partisan tone.

"No matter how they cast their ballots, all Americans can be proud of the history that was made yesterday," he said.  "Across the country, citizens voted in large numbers.  They showed a watching world the vitality of America's democracy and the strides we have made towards a more perfect union.  They chose a president whose journey represents a triumph of the American story, a testament to hard work, optimism, and faith in the enduring promise of our nation," said President Bush.

Mr. Bush said the moment is particularly uplifting for those who lived through America's turbulent civil rights era in the 1950s and 60s, when the vestiges of government-sponsored racial discrimination were overcome.

Now, the president said, it is time for Americans to move forward as one nation.

"We are embarking on a period of change in Washington, yet there are some things that will not change," Mr. Bush said.  "The United States government will stay vigilant in meeting its most important responsibility: protecting the American people.  And the world can be certain this commitment will remain steadfast under our next commander-in-chief," he said.

Mr. Bush said he will inform his successor of all important decisions made in the waning months of his administration, and that he has invited Mr. Obama and the president-elect's wife, Michelle, to the White House at their earliest convenience.

He predicted it will be a stirring sight to watch the Obama family enter the White House, and that he and First Lady Laura Bush will return to Texas with many treasured memories of their time in Washington.

During the just-completed campaign, Mr. Obama often criticized President Bush's policies, and sought to link Senator McCain to them.  Mr. Bush also paid tribute to Senator McCain, saying the American people will always be grateful for his lifetime of service to the nation. 

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