Former President George W. Bush does not plan to attend President Obama’s second inauguration on Monday, joining his father, former President George H.W. Bush, among the living former presidents who are sending regrets, according to several officials with knowledge of inaugural planning.
The decisions mean Obama’s second oath of office will occur with only Democratic former presidents sharing the stage. Both former President Bill Clinton and former President Jimmy Carter plan on attending.
The younger President Bush is citing his father’s health in declining the invitation to attend, according to the officials. The older Bush, who is 88, was just released from the hospital this week after an extended illness.
“President and Mrs. Bush wish President Obama and his family all the best for a wonderful inaugural weekend,” said a spokesman from the younger President Bush’s office Friday.
Monday’s partial ex-presidential attendance will stand in contrast to Obama’s first inauguration, in 2009. All four living presidents attended that event – including, of course, President George W. Bush, who was turning the office over to Obama.
The younger Bush’s exit that day was memorable, though not in the most pleasant of ways. Throngs of onlookers booed the outgoing president’s helicopter as it passed over the crowds amassed on the National Mall.
Former presidents are invited to the inauguration by tradition, though not all have attended with regularity.
President and Mrs Bush 41 will NOT be attending the Inauguration. This will be the first Inaugural they have missed since 1997.
— Jim McGrath (@jgm41) January 18, 2013
President George W. Bush’s second inauguration, in 2005, featured three past presidents – his father in addition to the Democrats Carter and Clinton – but former Republican President Gerald Ford did not attend. (Ford was 91 at the time, and he passed away the following year.)
Carter skipped Clinton’s second inauguration, in 1997, while he was on an extended trip to Latin America. And at Clinton’s first inaugural, in 1993, Carter and the outgoing President Bush were the only ex-presidents in attendance; Ford, Ronald Reagan, and Richard Nixon were alive at the time, but did not attend.
Former vice presidents are also invited to inaugurations, but their attendance has been more sporadic. No former vice presidents are currently expected to attend Monday’s festivities.
ABC’s Sarah Parnass contributed to this report.