George W. Bush skips Republican conventionLAURIE KELLMAN, Associated PressThe Associated Press
WASHINGTON -- Former President George W. Bush is skipping the Republican National Convention next month in Tampa, Florida, where presumptive nominee Mitt Romney will officially become the party's standard bearer.
"President Bush was grateful for the invitation," his spokesman, Freddy Ford, said Friday in an email. He added that the 43rd president "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's presence at the convention could undercut Romney's argument that he knows better than President Barack Obama when it comes to improving the wobbly economy. A CBS News/New York Times poll this month found more voters say Bush deserves the bulk of the blame for America's economic downturn than think Obama bears a lot of the responsibility. Almost two-thirds of voters think Romney's economic policies would mirror Bush's at least somewhat.
Bush was deeply unpopular when he left office in 2009 amid America's worst financial crisis since the Great Depression.
Bush's father, former President George H.W. Bush, announced earlier this week that he plans to skip the convention for health reasons. That means Romney will accept his party's nomination without any former Republican presidents in the audience.