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. Sniffit

    " "To work together better to achieve that kind of level of integration didn't happen yesterday. "

    Right. And the Bush administration "integrated" the CIA's bin Laden unit (Alec Station) right out of existence in 2005.

    May 4, 2011 09:43 am at 9:43 am |
  2. Sergio D. Monterroso

    I'm sure it would be hard to celebrate something you were not able to do (or maybe, did not want to do).

    May 4, 2011 09:45 am at 9:45 am |
  3. Larry

    If bush uses the same policy he used to find bin Laden, he'll look for the Ground Zero memorial in Afghanistan for 7 years.

    May 4, 2011 09:46 am at 9:46 am |
  4. Ang

    Bush made the right decision to stay out of the spotlight. Now it truly can be said MISSION ACCOMPLISHED!!!

    May 4, 2011 09:46 am at 9:46 am |
  5. shawn

    Bush shouldn't have been invited, but Obama is a gentleman. Bush failed, made the world a more dangerous place and destroyed US standing in the world. Thanks to Obama's balanced, rational, respectful and measured leadership, things are improving.

    May 4, 2011 09:46 am at 9:46 am |
  6. Sunny

    Bush should have been elected president now! he is getting wiser with age – he was too immature when first elected

    May 4, 2011 09:48 am at 9:48 am |
  7. chris

    I have to say, I agree with Bush he should stay out of the spotlight.
    Now as for Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, after 9/11 is was the responsibility of the former President to put those various measures in place because it was his job!!! But make no mistake about it, was on the current President watch that we got public enemy number one!!

    May 4, 2011 09:49 am at 9:49 am |
  8. The Other Dale

    As more evidence comes out, it's clear that the no matter how some in Bush's administration try to trump up their claims, the information we got namely came from other sources and through normal interrogation rather than through the sadistic methods of torture that Bush was so proud of. Shame on those who try to praise such methods when common sense and the evidence shows otherwise. But for some here it's all about making this a win for Bush instead of a win for American and society, I guess.

    No one knows exactly what Bush is thinking here – to be fair, we can assume he sees this as being a moment that doesn't need "guest-stars" to merely repeat the only things that can be said and will be said by Obama. Otherwise, all the "Bush is beter! No Obama is better" crap is talk built on blood – not only of those who fought to get to Bin Laden these past few years, but those who died on 9/11.

    May 4, 2011 09:49 am at 9:49 am |
  9. airbornevet

    Bush has shown "class" by being silent, so I guess what you are saying is he was classless when he was in office and talking? The republican party is the ones who want him to stay quiet, because he was one of the worst Presidents in our history.

    Still this supersedes any politics this is about the war on terror while some are making the ultimate sacrifice, he can't sacrifice his day???

    May 4, 2011 09:50 am at 9:50 am |
  10. kcl

    Simply put....the gesture was the right thing to do, the deline of the invitation was equally correct. Get over it people.

    May 4, 2011 09:50 am at 9:50 am |
  11. kyle

    Bush didn't have a plan or a clue, that's why he won't come!!!!!!!!!!!

    May 4, 2011 09:51 am at 9:51 am |
  12. Anonymous

    It appalls me that Obama has never been to 'Ground Zero', the only reason he is going now is because of recent events!!!!

    May 4, 2011 09:51 am at 9:51 am |
  13. Anonymous

    Good. Bush needs to stay out of the way while Obama continues to clean up W's mess and do what he couldn't (get Bin Laden).

    May 4, 2011 09:53 am at 9:53 am |
  14. Bush Realizes

    Of course Bush does not want to go Thursday at Obama's invite. He knows he would play second fiddle to Obama due to the fact that his administration could not do what the present one has done. Bush had every opportunity to capture Bin Laden yet didn't. For them to now say that they deserve some credit is like someone who merely works in the background of a prison facility where a highly dangerous prisoner is placed on death row to be claiming at the last hour of the prisoner's life that he was the one who released the chemicals to the applause of all. Doesn't work. Bush is not "The Man" and he knows that. President Obama is!! Kudos to the Obama Administration for getting rid of the world's most dangerous terrorist!

    May 4, 2011 09:54 am at 9:54 am |
  15. Jess C

    Yes, a little embarrassing for Bush to be there when he spent all those years trying to capture OBL only to say when asked once, that OBL was not all that important to him. Kind of like a little kid who failed at something that was important. Is it just me, or is the GOP generally immature and jealous of those who are different and worse yet, successful?

    May 4, 2011 09:54 am at 9:54 am |
  16. Bobby McKenzie

    All of your libtards out there showing your continued hatred for Bush listen up. Contrary to what you obviously think, GWB has enough class and sensitivity to realize that Graound zero is still a sensitive place for those that died and did not want to risk turning it into a publicity stunt. also, he realizes that he isn't president, Obama is and he decided to let this be his moment. it is called BEING HUMBLE!!!! Also, He was probably smart not to go because this POTUS has a serious habit of inviting people to special events and taking that opportunity to take pot shots at them (Like Rep Ryan, the US Supreme court Justices, the list is huge) and probably didn't want to give him the opportunity. Mostly, he has said repeatedly he wants to enjoy retirement and stay out of the limelite. Again, the man has class

    May 4, 2011 09:55 am at 9:55 am |
  17. Jeff in Virginia

    Bush is a coward- afraid that he'll get booed.

    Obama took out the bad guy because he made it a priority. Bush, in his own words, was not interested. Remember that.

    May 4, 2011 09:55 am at 9:55 am |
  18. Donnio

    Looks like Bush can tell the cats out of the bag and that everyone knows he wasted military lives on Hussien instead of Osama. Bush gets NO credit!!! NATO should have went after Hussien and the U.S. after Osama.

    May 4, 2011 09:57 am at 9:57 am |
  19. jct

    Mr. Bush won the war. President Obama won the peace.

    May 4, 2011 09:58 am at 9:58 am |
  20. mtrought

    This maybe the most tactical move in GB's career if he used these moves whilst president maybe he would have captured Bin laden and the MISSION ACCOMPLISHED then would have been as REAL as it now is. I love you LAURA BUSH, GB's doesnt deserve a smart and lovely lady like you.

    May 4, 2011 10:00 am at 10:00 am |
  21. Me

    I don't believe Bush deserves any credit what so ever for the killing of bin Laden. In March of '02 he said on camera that he didn't know where bin Laden was and he was no longer a priority. In 2006, the committee officially tasked with the hunt for him was disbanded.

    Bush, Sr was partially responsible for this mess as well. The Reagan administration funded bin Laden in the early 80s so from beginning to finish, it's just a Bush mess.

    Credit for the killing of bin Laden belongs to Obama and Obama alone. That's a President.

    May 4, 2011 10:00 am at 10:00 am |
  22. airbornevet

    I mean it's not like this is about the killing of the man who masterminded the greatest attack on US in our history, and it's not like Bush was president during that time, so I mean why should he come?

    Like I said before, this is about the War on Terror and it supersedes politics, while others are making the ULTUIMATE sacrifice he is fine with not even sacrificing his day??!? What a leader! No winder he skipped out of his duties in Vietnam. Pathetic excuse for a man!

    May 4, 2011 10:01 am at 10:01 am |
  23. zippy

    Obama is playing both sides. He gets the benefits of Bush's counter-terrorism policies while simultaneously denouncing them.

    May 4, 2011 10:01 am at 10:01 am |
  24. GDT

    The comments on this board are a perfect example of why so much of the country dislikes Obama. Couldn't this have been an opportunity to praise the Bush Admin for all of their counter-terrorism efforts during a very difficult period after 9/11? Do Liberals really not understand that the actions over the weekend were a culmination of 10 years of work by the Bush and Obama administrations and more importantly by the military and intelligence services? Do you really believe that Obama is a magician and made all of this happen on his own? Come on.....grow up and get real.

    May 4, 2011 10:01 am at 10:01 am |
  25. eddale

    george bush doesn't want to stand next to President Obama so the world can see what a real President looks and speaks like.

    May 4, 2011 10:02 am at 10:02 am |
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