George H.W. Bush to miss GOP convention

Former President George H.W. Bush will not attend the Republican National Convention in Tampa due to health problems, marking the first party convention that the 41st president will miss in more than 35 years.

Bush, 88, has been seen confined to a wheelchair in recent months because of vascular parkinsonism, a condition that will keep him from traveling to Florida in August from his home in Kennebunkport, Maine.

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"President and Mrs. Bush are more convinced today than ever that we need to get behind Mitt and Ann Romney to help turn this country around, but sadly the situation around President Bush's mobility will prevent them from attending the Tampa convention,” Bush spokesman Jim McGrath told The Hill on Monday.

The elder President Bush has attended every GOP convention since 1980, when he was nominated for vice president. He was serving as director of Central Intelligence in 1976.

At least one of Bush’s sons will be in attendance in Tampa. Jeb Bush, the former Florida governor, will be there, spokeswoman Jaryn Emhof said on Monday. Details of his role have not been finalized, she said.

Whether former President George W. Bush will make an appearance or speech in Tampa is unclear. His spokesman did not return a call for comment on Monday.

The second President Bush has sought to avoid the political spotlight since leaving office, and his commentary on the 2012 election has been limited to a four-word endorsement of Mitt Romney, delivered in an elevator to an ABC News reporter. George W. Bush did not attend the Republican convention in 2008 as the incumbent president, delivering only a video speech in support of Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) after a Gulf Coast hurricane kept him from St. Paul, Minn.