Page last updated at 04:37 GMT, Sunday, 27 April 2008 05:37 UK

Bush pokes fun at his successors

George Bush jokes about his potential successors

US President George W Bush poked fun at his potential successors during his last White House Correspondents' Association dinner.

The president said he was surprised they were not in the audience before making jokes at their expense.

Referring to Republican candidate John McCain's absence, he said: "He probably wanted to distance himself from me."

The annual dinner dates back to 1924 and is attended by media personalities, celebrities and politicians.

President Bush also put forward mock excuses on behalf of the Democratic presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.

Taking a jibe at controversies which have dogged their campaigns, he said: "Hillary Clinton couldn't get in because of sniper fire and Senator Obama's at church."

He was referring to Mrs Clinton's "mis-speak" when she erroneously claimed she faced sniper fire on a trip to Bosnia in the 1990s; and Mr Obama's pastor, Reverend Jeremiah Wright, who criticised America in fiery sermons.

The president admitted to being a "little wistful" at his final dinner, and video clips of his previous performances were broadcast.

He finished by conducting the US Marine band in a medley of patriotic marches.

Retirement plans

Mr Bush was followed by Craig Ferguson, host of US television's the Late Late Show.

Scottish-born Mr Ferguson asked Mr Bush what he was planning to do after leaving office, suggesting: "You could look for a job with more vacation time."

The president has been criticised for the amount of time he has spent away from the White House during his presidency.

Vice-President Dick Cheney, Mr Ferguson said, "is already moving out of his residence. It takes longer than you think to pack up an entire dungeon".

The White House Correspondents' Association presented its annual awards during the dinner on Saturday in front of a crowd of VIPs, including author Salman Rushdie, singer Ashlee Simpson and actors Ben Affleck and Pamela Anderson.

Mr Bush's appearance at the event continues a tradition begun by US President Calvin Coolidge in 1924.

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