(Photo: AP / Gerald Herbert)
Former President George W. Bush said through his spokesman that he will not attend the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla., next month because he's enjoying his time "away from the spotlight."
"President Bush was grateful for the invitation to the Republican National Convention," spokesman Freddy Ford said in an email sent to reporters. "He supports Gov. (Mitt) Romney and wants him to succeed. President Bush is confident that Mitt Romney will be a great President. But he's still enjoying his time off the political stage and respectfully declined the invitation to go to Tampa."
Bush has avoided the spotlight since he left office in 2009. He recently told interviewer Peter Robinson of the Hoover Institution that he had an awesome eight years in office with fame and power, which he has no desire for anymore. "I don't want to undermine our President – whoever's President – and a former President can do that," Bush added.
His 88-year-old father, former President George H.W. Bush, has also said he will not attend the convention, for health reasons. The elder Bush has vascular Parkinsonism, and uses a wheelchair. The elder Bush's spokesman, Jim McGrath, said it will be the first time since 1976 that he won't attend the GOP gathering.
Romney will accept his party's nomination without any former Republican presidents in the audience, which is unusual.
But former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, brother of George W. Bush, who has endorsed Romney, will be there.
Bush's attendance would have required Romney to decide if he should be asked to speak.
According to this month's CBS News/New York Times poll, more voters say Bush deserves the bulk of the blame for the nation's economic downturn than think Obama bears most of the responsibility. Almost two-thirds of voters think Romney's economic policies would somewhat resemble that of Bush's.