President George Bush urged Tony Blair to STAY in power until he quit the White House.

The US leader tried to persuade the PM to complete a full term in office so they could leave power together.

President Bush told The Sun in a world exclusive interview: "Tony's had a great run and history will judge him kindly. He's a very talented man, for whom I've got a great deal of respect.

"I selfishly said to him, 'I hope you can stay out my term!'

"But Tony has been very gracious about Gordon Brown to me."

Mr Bush joked of the new Premier: "Gordon came here and he wasn't the image of the dour Scotsman at all! He was relaxed. It was a good meeting."

His remarks are included along with personal recollections of Mr Blair by world leaders, showbiz stars and friends.

Mr Bush said Mr Blair is blessed with a world-class ability to communicate. He went on: "Tony's great skill, and I wish I had it, is that he's very articulate.

"I wish I was a better speaker. This guy can really . . . he can talk.

"He's given some really good speeches here on US soil. He's a very good writer, obviously, and a very good speaker too.

"We have different speaking styles, of course.

"He's much more kind of lofty and eloquent than I am. I tend to be just pretty matter of fact." Speaking at the White House, Mr Bush went on:

As for the pressure he's been under at home over Iraq, I ask him about it, try to buck him up as a friend . . . 'Are you doing OK?' But the truth of the matter is each person carries their own burden.

I've heard he's been called Bush's poodle. He's bigger than that. This is just background noise, a distraction from big things.

We're working together to achieve global peace in the face of enormous danger.

This kind of thing is just silly ridicule and that's how I treat it.

Somehow our relationship has been seen as Bush saying to Blair 'Jump' and Blair saying, 'How high?' But that's just not the way it works. It's a relationship where we say we're both going to jump together.

We've served together during a time of war, and shared the same determination to succeed. We analysed the enemy the same way, and found each other in the same foxhole.

President Bush admitted he was terrified Mr Blair would lose a Commons confidence vote on the eve of the Iraq War. He said: "I learned more about British politics then than I ever thought I would. We strategized some about different issues, and in the end he won handily.

The President's views about Mr Blair have never before been aired in public. They form an extraordinary salute to him just hours before he leaves office for good.

The PM will be whisked to Buckingham Palace this afternoon after his final Commons performance, and will hand in his seals of office.

Mr Brown will then be summoned to the Palace where he will be sworn in by the Queen.

He will take the short journey to Number 10 Downing Street in his predecessor's armour-plated Jaguar.

He has much to live up to. A host of worldwide figures have heaped praise on Mr Blair for the special Sun tribute.

BILL CLINTON talked fondly of their relationship. The former President said: "I once took Tony to play golf on the old course at Chequers. I don't think he had ever played before. I showed him how to hold the club and swing.

"We played nine holes and he made par on four of them! It was bad enough that he was younger than me and could pass all his legislation in Parliament - now he was a better golfer. And he never let me forget it."

BOB GELDOF spoke amusingly and movingly. Remembering the G8 summit Britain hosted in 2005, at which huge aid pledges were made for Africa, he said: "The world was in Britain. The leaders of the richest countries, the African leaders - and Blair and Brown playing a blinder for the poor of the world."

ellow campaigner BONO, talking about those G8 promises, added: "Look behind the geek-speak on its pages, and you find poetry and beauty, human lives transformed."

The host of personal recollections give a fascinating insight into Mr Blair's personality - and include a string of hilarious anecdotes.

Former aide ANTHONY GIDDENS told of a party in Holland at which Mr Blair was approached by a smart, middle-aged woman who introduced herself as Beatrice. Lord Giddens recalled: "Tony said, 'Hi, Beatrice. What do you do?' The woman replied, 'I'm the Queen'."

MARK ELLEN, who played in a band with Mr Blair in the early '70s at Oxford University, said at one gig "he came screaming on with the classic, 'Let's rock!' and went into the first Stones number as if he were Jagger himself, all pointing fingers and pout."