(NEW YORK) — George W. Bush’s time outside the political spotlight will extend at least through August.
The former president will not attend the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla., according to a spokesman, meaning he’ll be nowhere near when Republicans nominate Mitt Romney as their candidate to follow in Bush’s footsteps as a Republican occupant of the White House.
“President Bush was grateful for the invitation to the Republican National Convention,” Bush spokesman Freddy Ford said Friday in an emailed statement. “He supports Governor Romney and wants him to succeed. President Bush is confident that Mitt Romney will be a great President. But in keeping with his desire to stay off the political stage at this point in the post-presidency, he respectfully declined the invitation to go to Tampa.”
To the broader public, Bush has been a political pariah since his second White House term, when his approval ratings plummeted, at times reaching record lows. He did not actively campaign for Sen. John McCain in 2008, an election heavily influenced by the unpopularity of Bush and the war in Iraq, although he did endorse his party’s 2008 nominee over hot dogs at the White House.
Bush this year issued an impromptu endorsement of Romney to ABC’s Matt Negrin, as elevator doors closed.
Bush, 66, also missed the 2008 GOP convention in Minneapolis-St. Paul, traveling to Texas instead to meet with emergency workers as Hurricane Gustav caused damage on the Gulf Coast.
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David Goldman, CNN
Scott Stuntz, Teton Valley News
Jose Pagliery, CNN
Tom Kludt and Jeremy Diamond, CNN