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President George H.W. Bush to Spend Christmas in Hospital?

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza(HOUSTON) -- President George H.W. Bush will likely spend the Christmas holiday in the hospital, where he’s been battling bronchitis and a lingering cough since late last month.

In a statement released to ABC News on Monday, Bush spokesman Jim McGrath said that no release date has been set for the 88-year-old former president.

“It seems like every time they address an issue another one crops up, so it's frustrating,” McGrath said. “But doctors say they are cautiously optimistic."

Bush has been hospitalized since Thanksgiving. Doctors have said the former president’s condition is stable, but that he needs to “build up his energy.”

His family has said publicly the former president is no longer able to walk unassisted, a frustration for a man who enjoyed an active lifestyle of golf, fishing, jogging, and power walks on the beach near his summer home in Maine.  In Houston, where he and his wife Barbara Bush have lived since leaving the White House almost 20 years ago, President Bush has been in and out of the hospital for health concerns and two hip replacement surgeries.

The former president became emotional last summer in a birthday interview with his granddaughter Jenna, a contributor to NBC’s Today.  He read a portion of a letter to his family about growing old.

“As the summers finish out, and the seas get a little higher, winds a little colder,” he wrote, “I’ll be making some notes, writing it down lest I forget so I can add to the report on getting older. Who knows, maybe they will come out with a new drug that makes legs bend easier, joints hurt less, drives go farther, memory come roaring back and all fears about falling off fishing rafts go away.”

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ABC News Radio