U.S. President George Bush has departed the White House for the final time as the nation's leader.

Mr. Bush and first lady Laura Bush are at the U.S. Capitol to witness the swearing-in of incoming president Barack Obama.

Mr. and Mrs. Bush hosted Mr. Obama and his wife, Michelle, for coffee at the White House Tuesday before the couples departed for the inauguration ceremony.

Mr. Bush leaves office with one of the lowest public approval ratings of any departing U.S. president.

Mr. Bush, who served as president for eight years, is leaving behind a host of urgent problems for his successor, including two wars and an economy on the brink of disaster.

After the swearing-in ceremony, Mr. and Mrs. Bush will board a helicopter for Andrews Air Force Base outside of Washington D.C.  After a departure ceremony at the base, the couple flies to Texas.

In keeping with a White House tradition, Mr. Bush left a note for Mr. Obama.  A spokeswoman, Dana Perino, said Mr. Bush left the note in the top desk drawer in the Oval Office Monday night.  The spokeswoman said Mr. Bush wished Mr. Obama well, but she declined to give further details.

Mr. Bush will take part in a welcome-home ceremony in the town of Midland, Texas, before heading to his ranch in Crawford. The Bushes will eventually live in Dallas, but their house in that city is not yet ready.