[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/11/04/art.mccain.bush.jpg caption="President Bush has been missing in action for the past few days."]
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Only one thing breaks the sound of silence at the White House today – the pounding of hammers outside the north fence as workers construct the inaugural parade grandstand.
President Bush, for the fifth day in a row, has no public events on his schedule. Even the daily White House briefing has been cancelled for Tuesday.
Mr. Bush and First Lady Laura cast their ballots for John McCain via absentee ballot on October 24th. In every preceding election, the President voted in person at the polls in Crawford, Texas.
Related: Bush absent from the campaign trail
White House Press Secretary Dana Perino says President Bush plans to stay at the White House tonight and watch election returns come in with family and friends, while celebrating Laura Bush's 62nd birthday.
At the White House briefing Monday, Perino commented not only on the president's absence from the campaign trail – but from the ballot.
"It's the first time in 14 years that President Bush hasn't been on the ballot," said Perino. "And that's a different role for him than in the past."
Regarding President Bush's dropping out of sight this week, Perino explained, "Look, we are realistic about the political environment that we are in. The Republican Party wanted to make this election about John McCain, and that's appropriate."
Perino blamed the President's low 28 percent approval ratings in part on unpopular actions he's taken like proposing the 700 billion dollar financial rescue plan.
"And often when you do big things and you make tough decisions, they're not popular. President Bush understands that," said Perino. "When he goes home to Texas, President Bush will be able to look in the mirror and know that he was true to his values and true to his principles. And that's what keeps him going."