Bushâ€™s absence from this yearâ€™s presidential race stands in sharp contrast with his predecessor, who has stayed in campaign mode pretty much since he left office.
In 2004, Bill Clinton appeared atÂ a Philadelphia rallyÂ with Sen. John F. Kerry (Mass.), the Democratic nominee, only seven weeks after having quadruple bypass surgery. â€œIf this isnâ€™t good for my heart, I donâ€™t know what is,â€ Clinton told a cheering throng of more than 100,000.
Despite the fact that his wife lost the Democratic nomination to Barack Obama in 2008, Clinton has eagerly stepped up as a validator and fundraiser for the current president in his bid for reelection. Then again, campaigning is such a part of Clintonâ€™s DNA that he has even been willing to host fundraising events for state Senate candidates.
Donâ€™t expect to see anything like that from Bush.
â€œWe welcome the presidentâ€™s support, as we welcomed his fatherâ€™sâ€ in late March, when former president George H.W. Bushbestowed his formal endorsement on the all-but-inevitable GOP nominee, said Romney campaign spokeswoman Andrea Saul.
â€œWeâ€™re proud to have the presidentâ€™s support,â€ she added, â€œbut he made clear when he left office that he was not going to engage in political campaigns and we have no reason to believe that is going to change.â€
That the younger Bush has stayed invisible reflects both political reality â€” he remains far from popular among much of the electorate â€” and his sense of what his role should be as a former commander in chief.
Richard B. Cheney, his vice president, emerged as an early and vocal critic of the Obama presidency.
But BushÂ said of his successorÂ in 2009: â€œIâ€™m not going to spend my time criticizing him. There are plenty of critics in the arena. He deserves my silence.Â .â€‰.â€‰.Â I think it is essential that he be helped in office.â€