President George W. Bush Not Joining Obama at Ground Zero Thursday

VIDEO: President Obama faces increased pressure to release photos of bin Ladens body.
Share
Copy

President George W. Bush declined an invitation from the White House to join President Obama in a visit to Ground Zero Thursday.

"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. He continues to celebrate with all Americans this important victory in the war on terror," according to a statement released by Bush spokesman David Sherzer late Tuesday.

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said, "the invitation was last minute, of course, and we completely understand that he is not able to attend."

Obama will visit the World Trade Center site in lower Manhattan Thursday to meet with the families of 9/11 victims, four days after bin Laden was captured and killed by Navy SEALs in Abbottabad, Pakistan.

However, Obama and Bush will attend the ceremony marking the 10th anniversary of 9/11 at ground zero, officials said.

The ceremony reunites the president who first called for the capture of Osama bin Laden -- "dead or alive" -- and the president who delivered it.

10th Anniversary Ceremony

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced Obama's plans for attending the 10th anniversary ceremony. A member of President Bush's staff confirmed his plans to attend to ABC News.

"He's the president of the United States. I certainly think it's terribly important for him to come on 9/11/11, and he will be there, at least his staff has told me that he will come," Bloomberg said of Obama's attending.

The White House has yet to officially confirm the president's schedule for Sept. 11, 2011.

Both men have acknowledged the other's role in hunting bin Laden, America's most wanted terrorist for more than a decade.

"Earlier this evening, Obama called to inform me that American forces killed Osama bin Laden, the leader of the al Qaeda network that attacked America on Sept. 11, 2001. I congratulated him and the men and women of our military and intelligence communities who devoted their lives to this mission," Bush said in a statement.

A year ago, commemorations of 9/11 were nearly marred by protests over a planned Islamic center for a site near ground zero, and Florida pastor Terry Jones threatened to burn a stack of Korans.

But September's commemoration, coming on the heels of bin Laden's death, could possibly restore a sense of national unity and pride.

It's known yet whether either Obama or Bush plans to speak at the anniversary ceremony.

In 2002, on the first anniversary of the attacks, New York Gov. George Pataki read the Gettysburg Address, rather than an original speech, for fear of politicizing the memorial.

"I thought it was important not to have politicians speaking, and to let it be a moment where instead of a politician giving a message, we reflected on the message sent by the thousands who died on Sept. 11 and the thousands of others who a year later were still working so hard to bring New York and America back," Pataki told ABCNews.com before the 2010 anniversary.

ABC News' Ann Compton and Jake Tapper contributed to this report.

Join the Discussion
You are using an outdated version of Internet Explorer. Please click here to upgrade your browser in order to comment.
blog comments powered by Disqus
 
You Might Also Like...
See It, Share It
PHOTO: Oscar de la Renta and Oprah Winfrey attend the Costume Institute Gala Benefit to celebrate the opening of the American Woman: Fashioning a National Identity exhibition at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, May 8, 2010, in New York City.
Rabbani and Solimene Photography/WireImage/Getty Images
PHOTO: Up in Ash: Mount Sinabung Erupting
Tibt Nangin/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images
PHOTO: Firefighters rescue a woman who got stuck in a chimney in Thousand Oaks, Calif.
Ventura County Fire Department
PHOTO: Apple Pay is demonstrated at Apple headquarters on Oct. 16, 2014 in Cupertino, Calif.
Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP Photo