The president will be visiting New York's Ground Zero today, flanked by numerous politicians but with the notable absence of George Bush. Given the scrutiny of the Obama administration's decisions after the killing of Osama bin Laden and the subsequent refusal to "spike the football" and release the death photos, the trip has been carefully calibrated to not appear political.
Even though former NYC mayor Rudy Giuliani will be in attendance, the absence of President Bush is attracting attention. Yesterday, one source suggested to Politico that Bush wanted to "give Obama his moment." Today, the New York Daily News quotes a "highly-placed" source saying that the ex-decider "viewed this as an Obama victory lap." Former President Bill Clinton has also decided to forgo the event, citing a "scheduling conflict."
Put simply: "I hope it's not something where the president's coming here to get points," said one retired New York City firefighter to Politico. Even though the president will be attending the former World Trade Center site, he will not be giving a public address, and White House spokesman Jay Carney stressed that Obama will simply lay a wreath to honor the victims and also meet in private with families who lost loved ones in the 9/11 terror attacks. White House officials believed a speech might be deemed "exploiting" victims families.
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