Bush out of sight, but keeping eye on election
WASHINGTON – President George W. Bush, who has stayed out of the public eye in the final days before the election to choose his successor, knows his popularity has suffered, but the White House insists he will have no problem looking in the mirror when he returns to Texas.
Bush spent the weekend at Camp David and has no public events on Monday or Tuesday. He last spoke with his preferred successor Republican John McCain on Sept. 25, the day of a White House meeting on the financial bailout.
McCain has actively campaigned to distance himself from the unpopular 43rd U.S. president, rarely appearing with Bush since capturing the Republican presidential nomination in March.
“Everybody would like to be popular. We can all remember that back in high school, everyone really wanted to be popular, and some of us just weren’t,” White House spokeswoman Dana Perino told reporters on the eve of the election.
“But that doesn’t mean that you don’t have principles and values that you stayed true to. And that’s what this president has done, and that’s what he’s taught a lot of us, including me,” she said.
The Iraq war has been one of the key reasons for Bush’s unpopularity at home and overseas. However, Bush believes he made the right decision to order a U.S.-led invasion in March 2003, Perino said.
“And when he goes home to Texas, President Bush will be able to look in the mirror and know that he was true to his values and true to his principles, and that’s what keeps him going,” she said.
Bush and his wife, Laura, plan to live in Dallas and at the Crawford, Texas, ranch after leaving the White House. Bush plans to create the “Freedom Institute” on the campus of Southern Methodist University which will also host his presidential library.
Bush will watch the election results from the White House, where a small private dinner is planned in the residence with senior aides.
“President Bush remains hopeful that John McCain will pull it out tomorrow night and will win the election,” Perino said. McCain has been trailing Democratic rival Barack Obama in most national opinion polls.
– Photo credit: Reuters/Larry Downing (Bush leaves the Oval Office headed for his Marine One flight to Camp David)