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George W. Bush, True to His Word, Lies Low After Osama Bin Laden Killing

Shaun Botterill/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- George W. Bush declined President Obama's invitation to join him at Ground Zero Thursday to meet with firefighters, police, first responders and families who lost loved ones during the 9/11 attacks, an event that defined his presidency.

With news that Navy SEALs killed Osama bin Laden Sunday, the former president was suddenly thrust back onto the stage as the world looked back at the Sept 11th attacks and the nearly decade-long hunt to find the world's most notorious terrorist.

But several top officials from the Bush administration said they were not at all surprised that Bush declined the invitation, in keeping with his pledge to stay out of the spotlight and let Obama be the president.

As Bush's second term wound down in January 2009, he did not mince words when it came to his plans for life after the White House.

"When I get out of here, I'm getting off the stage," he told reporters a week before Obama's inauguration. "I believe there ought to be, you know, one person in the Klieg lights at a time. And I've had my time in the Klieg lights."

Exit stage left; that was Bush's plan, so he remained in Dallas Thursday.

And for nearly 2½ years, the former president has kept his word, declining interview requests and keeping a low-profile in Dallas as he wrote his memoir and developed his presidential library.

On Sunday evening, before addressing the nation, Obama called Bush to inform him that bin Laden had been killed by U.S. forces.

Later in the week, the president extended an invitation to his predecessor to join him at Ground Zero Thursday, but Bush declined.

Bush will attend the ceremonies marking the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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