POSTED: Tuesday, July 17, 2012 - 1:00am
UPDATED: Tuesday, July 17, 2012 - 1:14am
Washington — President George Herbert Walker Bush and his wife Barbara will not be attending the Republican National Convention this August in Tampa, his spokesman confirmed Monday.
Bush, 88, is confined to a wheelchair due to disease that limits his mobility and ability to travel from his summer home in Kennebunkport, Maine.
"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," spokesman Jim McGrath said in a statement.
Bush, who was elected president in 1988, has attended every convention since 1980, when he was tapped to be Ronald Reagan's running mate. In 1984 he stayed on the ticket with Reagan as they won re-election.
The former president described his condition to Parade Magazine for an article published this past weekend.
"They call it vascular Parkinsonism. It just affects the legs. It's not painful. You tell your legs to move, and they don't move. It's stranger, but if you have to have some bad-sounding disease, this is a good one to get," he said.
Asked if it was hard to accept, he said: "It's hard, because I love being active, (playing) sports, being in the game...But you just face the reality and make the best of it."
The elder Bush, who earlier had served as head of the Republican National Committee, did not attend the 1976 convention because he was head of the Central Intelligence Agency at that time.
Romney met the Bushes at the former president's Houston office in March during the height of the Republican primary contest. Bush told reporters at the time "we're so convinced...that he's the man to do this job and get on and win the presidency."
At least one of Bush's children will be in Tampa. Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, who is headlining a fund-raiser for Romney Tuesday in Indiana, will be attending the Republican convention, according to the former governor's spokeswoman.
A spokesman for former President George W. Bush did not return a request for comment on his plans regarding the convention.
The Hill newspaper first reported the news regarding President George H.W. Bush's decision.
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