It’s no coincidence President Bush has been out of the public’s eye in recent days — that’s the way the Republican Party wants it. White House press secretary Dana Perino said Monday the incumbent’s invisibility is by design — because “the Republican Party wanted to make this election about John McCain.”
The president knows there are people in this country who want change and are looking for something new, Perino said.
“We’re realistic about the political environment that we are in,” she said. “What keeps him going is knowing that he’s done the right thing.”
With a 26 percent approval rating, Bush has only appeared in Democratic television ads that regularly tie him to Republican candidates. And that won’t change until after Election Day.
Since Bush endorsed McCain in the Rose Garden on March 5, the two have appeared in public only three times for a total of 12 minutes. That’s in stark contrast to the scores of fundraisers and rallies Bush did before congressional midterm elections in 2002 and 2006. Perino said the last time Bush and McCain communicated was before the president’s Cabinet meeting October 15.
As McCain and Democrat Barack Obama made their final pitches to voters over the weekend, Bush spent time at the Camp David presidential retreat. He has no public events on Monday or Tuesday, not even an Election Day photo op.
Bush voted in Texas by absentee ballot and plans a small dinner in the White House residence Tuesday night with two purposes: celebrating his wife’s birthday and watching “with great interest as the returns come in.”
The White House said Bush is busy with the financial crisis, two wars and the upcoming transition to a new administration. The economy and recent hurricanes on the Gulf Coast prompted Bush to cancel appearances at fundraisers.
In early September after Hurricane Gustav, Bush scrapped his planned opening-night speech at the Republican National Convention in St. Paul, Minn., and instead spoke via satellite.