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Former President George W. Bush will attend President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration on Jan. 20, but former President Jimmy Carter won’t make it, their offices said Tuesday.
Bush spokesman Freddy Ford said that the 43rd president and former First Lady Laura Bush will attend the pared-back ceremony in Washington.
“President and Mrs. Bush look forward to returning to the Capitol for the swearing-in of President Biden and Vice President Harris,” Ford said.
“I believe this will be the eighth Inauguration they’ve had the privilege of attending — President Trump’s being the most recent — and witnessing the peaceful transfer of power is a hallmark of our democracy that never gets old.”
Bush, 74, is the only living Republican ex-president following his father George H.W. Bush’s death in 2018.
Although controversial when he left office due to the 2008 economic collapse and his management of the Iraq War and other post-9/11 policies, Bush’s popularity has rebounded, according to polls. He rarely comments on politics and started painting.
Carter, 96, left office in 1981. The coronavirus pandemic places elderly people at the greatest risk. Carter representatives told The Associated Press that the Democrat sends his “best wishes” to Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris.
The other two living ex-presidents are Democrats Bill Clinton and Barack Obama.
Biden’s inauguration won’t feature the usual festivities on the National Mall and along Pennsylvania Avenue due to the COVID-19 pandemic. A “virtual parade” will replace the traditional procession from the Capitol to the White House.
Trump is not expected to attend Biden’s inauguration. He said at a Monday rally in Georgia that he actually won re-election in a “landslide” but was cheated by fraud, though courts have rejected the claim.
Bush announced his planned visit on the eve of a last stand by Trump’s supporters in Congress, who plan to object Wednesday to Biden’s 306-232 win in the Electoral College.
Both chambers of Congress must accept objections to state-approved electors. The pro-Trump objections are doomed to fail because Democrats hold the House and many Republican senators say they won’t support the challenges.