Bush declines Obama invite to Ground Zero
May 4th, 2011
08:35 AM ET
10 years ago

Bush declines Obama invite to Ground Zero

(CNN) - Former President George Bush has declined an invite to join President Obama at Ground Zero Thursday to mark the death of Osama bin Laden.

The former president instead wishes to remain out of the spotlight, according to a Bush spokesman.

“President Bush will not be in attendance on Thursday. He appreciated the invite, but has chosen in his post-presidency to remain largely out of the spotlight,” said spokesman David Sherzer. “He continues to celebrate with all Americans this important victory in the war on terror.”

Obama’s visit to the primary target of the 9/11 attacks will come four days after he announced bin Laden had been killed by U.S. forces in Afghanistan. Obama will also meet with families who lost relatives during the attacks that killed nearly 3,000 people.

A senior Obama administration official added to CNN that Bush "was invited but is not able to come. Which we of course understand."

Bush’s decision not to attend the ceremony comes amid statements from several of his administrations top officials that the former president deserves significant praise for the capture of bin Laden.

Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld applauded the successful mission Tuesday, but also highlighted the pivotal role their team played in the search for America's most wanted terrorist.

"It was also important that President Bush put in place counterterrorism strategies and policies, efforts that the military and intelligence have been making over the years," Rice told CNN's "American Morning" on Tuesday. "To work together better to achieve that kind of level of integration didn't happen yesterday. This is something that has been happening for quite a long time."

In a separate CNN interview on Tuesday, Rumsfeld praised the former president’s controversial decision to imprison several low-level Al Qaeda officials.

"It is those people that know the habits and locations of the senior people. It is a good thing that the people were held and that there were interrogations," Rumsfeld said. "That information was patched together over a period of time."

A recent Washington Post pew poll suggests Americans are giving more credit to President Obama than Bush for the killing of the most sought after terrorist

More than three out of four Americans said Obama deserves a great deal or “some” credit while 51 percent said the same about Bush.

Bush is expected to attend a ceremony at Ground Zero on the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.

Filed under: President Bush • President Obama
soundoff (79 Responses)
  1. Tam

    Bus has nothing to be proud of. Being there would remind everyone of his terms.

    May 4, 2011 08:39 am at 8:39 am |
  2. Johnson

    Did you expect anything different? I Obama was Republican he would be there.

    May 4, 2011 08:40 am at 8:40 am |
  3. Byrd

    Apparently criminals don't like to return to the scene of their crime a second time.

    May 4, 2011 08:43 am at 8:43 am |
  4. Rudy NYC

    President Bush seems to be getting wiser with age. Staying out of the polictical spotlight immediately after leaving office has been a long standing tradition for ex-Presidents.

    May 4, 2011 08:48 am at 8:48 am |
  5. common thinking

    Bush has class...BHO does not!.... we got UBL thanks to the policies tha Bush created. Now BHO screwed it up...he should have been captured alive...sin he did not resist (54y/o man againts a SEAL...give me a break)....quik military trial and then a firing squad.

    May 4, 2011 08:50 am at 8:50 am |
  6. Alex

    And Rice and Rumsfeld would further add that Obama should also share the blame for not finding WMDs in Iraq, exposing the CIA covert agent by Libby-Chenney. However, the economic'e mess left over by Chenney-Bush is Obama's fault, entirely.

    May 4, 2011 08:52 am at 8:52 am |
  7. Ron

    What a loser. Since he can't take credit for killing Been Lousy, he won't go to ground zero with the President who did. Bush will show up later....probably trying to promote his book again.

    May 4, 2011 08:54 am at 8:54 am |
  8. AEK

    Good call on the part of former President Bush. His administration had the information it needed to stop 9/11 but, in the words of the Clinton briefing team, Mr. Bush seemed "strangely disinterested." He then sent young Americans to war in Afghanistan and Iraq with no clear purpose other than supporting Haliburton and building right wing Christian democracies. The lies he told the American people to get them on board were well orchestrated at all levels and still are being propagated by Bush apologists in an effort to re write history and excuse the war crimes committed by his thugs.

    May 4, 2011 08:59 am at 8:59 am |
  9. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    You know, say what you will and say what I will about The Shrub, the man in spite of his limited intelligence has SOME SENSE!
    Imagine how STUPID he would look standing at Ground Zero accepting part of the glory when his statements dismissing the importance of Osama have been played and replayed in the news since Sunday?
    Imagine how STUPID Rumsfeld, Condi, and everyone else giving him FALSE credit for the success of this mission feels now that THE MAN HIMSELF has rightfully turned down the invite. The Shrub has shown more class than his fellow Party clowns .
    Of course this could be interpreted as another smackdown to bi-partisanship, in which case it is only the Rethugs that will be seen as petty and classless, while our President Obama continues to take and stand on the high road.
    President Obama CONTINUES to outclass, outmaneuver, and outsmart the GOP. He continues to graciously show a willingness to indulge the GOP fantasies that W had anything to do with this significant episode in our history by inviting The Shrub to share in the praise and glory. It takes a HUGE man to be as gracious and magnanimous as our President has been and continues to be, and it only serves to highlight how SMALL, PETTY, and SELF-DELUDING the GOPers truly are.
    Obama 2012 all the way!!!!

    May 4, 2011 08:59 am at 8:59 am |
  10. R.L.

    As much as I dislike GW, I think he should go to the World Trade Center on Thursday. He was President when this started and as much as I dislike the way he handled things, he was there for the victims families and the first responders when they needed someone to lean on.

    May 4, 2011 09:03 am at 9:03 am |
  11. RKN

    But, didn't Mr Bush say in an interview that he did not give any thought to bin Laden and that he did not know and did not care where bin Laden was? He said that he was not concerned with catching bin Laden. He invaded Iraq and captured Saddam. Bush had turned away from Afghanistan and the search for bin Laden. It was Mr Obama who turned the focus back to bin Laden, yet people here are trying to give credit to Mr Bush for this operation.
    Are people really that stupid?

    May 4, 2011 09:04 am at 9:04 am |
  12. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    Deep down inside Bush KNOWS that he doesn't deserve to share this moment with President Obama. I commend Bush (probably for the first time) for having enough sense AND decency in letting the praise fall where it is due: at the feet of President Obama AND the military personnel that executed his order.
    Thank you George W. Bush, you did the right thing by saying 'thanks but no thanks'.

    May 4, 2011 09:05 am at 9:05 am |
  13. Faith

    Give me a break...When has George Bush astrayed himself from the spotlight. Everyone knows just why he turned down the invite w/ PRESIDENT OBAMA. But on the other hand he did make a trip to Ground ZERO....that should speak for itself. George Bush was a joke for the POTUS and he deserves no credit for the capture and killing of Osama Bin Laden. What he and his administration start ended at his last term. The next President and his administration and those group of people set in motion and implementative this VICTORY.

    OBAMA/BIDEN 2012

    May 4, 2011 09:05 am at 9:05 am |
  14. Jilli

    Perhaps Mr. Bush finally found his sense of shame.

    May 4, 2011 09:06 am at 9:06 am |
  15. pazke

    More credit, less credit, blah blah blah. Every 4-8 years we change commanders. There is never any cut and dry credit or resposibility. There were so many people involved at every level that all deserve credit for bringing down bin Laden.

    May 4, 2011 09:06 am at 9:06 am |
  16. Doug

    If I had the worst rating as President, tortured prisoners of war, and made the statement,"I don,t really care about Osama,Ive almost forgot about him? I think I would stay in the Background also? I can take a little bit of embarrasment,but not that much!!!!!

    May 4, 2011 09:06 am at 9:06 am |
  17. Blaum

    Great decision by President Bush....

    Obama now realizes the importance the information the enhanced interogation methods brought to find Bin Laden.... I guess if you give Obama long enough.... he will realize his faults....

    May 4, 2011 09:07 am at 9:07 am |
  18. Cliff

    Obama got him.

    May 4, 2011 09:08 am at 9:08 am |
  19. sara

    He said in 2002 and 2003 that he "wasn't thinking about bin Laden", after scaring Americans during his entire term, what would you expect! Our stupid selves were talking, spurring hate and being an "expert" on al qeuda, while he and Cheney was Robbing our country. As real as terrorism is and the death of bin laden is...his administration "used" the situation to ruin and rob our country. They "used" the terrorist situation as a "distraction", because as you can see, it didn't take that long for our intelligence and "using" our brain to get bin Laden. Now some of his idiot supporters and old worthless has-beens are trying to give the credit to Him...How ignorant and stupid they are.

    May 4, 2011 09:08 am at 9:08 am |
  20. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    If the mission had bombed out I doubt that Bush The Sequel would've accepted "his" fair share of the shame and ridicule.

    May 4, 2011 09:08 am at 9:08 am |
  21. FM

    I can also understand why "W" has declined the invitation. He is trying to put pieces together how he bombed the mountains with very, very heavy bombs thinking bin Laden was hiding there. Was that information from GMO?

    May 4, 2011 09:09 am at 9:09 am |
  22. detada

    I respect President Obama for extending the invitation to President Bush and I respect President Bush's decision to decline the invitation. What is the big deal here?

    May 4, 2011 09:10 am at 9:10 am |
  23. Just Me

    Who said Bush was dumb? He knows standing next to Obama at Ground Zero the world would be able to compare and contrast failure vs success. Good decision on his part. Now, if Cheney would stay in his hole and worry about his bad heart, then many of us would be happy.

    May 4, 2011 09:12 am at 9:12 am |
  24. Big Al

    I think Bush is right by staying out of the spotlight. Obama should have done the same thing at the first place.The history has been made. Osama Bin Laden was killed. What is the aftermath show at the Ground Zero going to add the significance to death of Osama bin Laden except photo opportunity? Obanma will get backfire.

    May 4, 2011 09:12 am at 9:12 am |
  25. Buffalo Jon

    Like him or not, Bush does show a lot of class in these situations. Good for him and good for Obama for having the spine to take UBL out the right way.

    May 4, 2011 09:13 am at 9:13 am |
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