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'God bless' my successor: Bush

world Updated: Nov 05, 2008 22:51 IST
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Vastly unpopular US President George W Bush cloistered himself with family and friends as America voted for electing its new president, privately invoking God's blessing on whomever succeeds him, his spokeswoman said.

Bush hosted a dinner with relatives and close aides yesterday, celebrating US First Lady Laura Bush's birthday in a White House dining room with a dinner ending with coconut cake, press secretary Dana Perino said by email.

"The president gave a toast at the start of the dinner thanking those present for all the work they've done and for their friendship. He ended by saying, 'And may God bless whoever wins,'" she told reporters.

He also gave the first lady, who was turning 62, "a pair of beautiful earrings," before members of the group settled in to watch election returns from the residence section of the presidential mansion, said Perino.

"The president believes tonight (yesterday night) is a night to appreciate the strength of our country and our democracy, as citizens from all over the country exercised their right to vote on Wednesday, after a historic campaign," she said.

"The president is committed to a transition that is as smooth as possible, a process that has been under way for many months, and as soon as we have a president-elect we'll be able to do even more on that front," said Perino.

She did not mention either of the rivals to become the 44th US president -- Bush's chosen successor and fellow Republican John McCain, or Democrat Barack Obama -- by name.

Bush endorsed McCain in a high-profile public White House event in March, but the Arizona senator has mostly fled from the incumbent, who is vastly unpopular with US voters.