Florida Gov. Jeb Bush missed every event sponsored by the Republican Party of Florida leading to Thursday's inauguration.
Some figure he didn't want to take the spotlight away from his older brother. Others say he was tired of answering questions about whether he would run for president in 2008.
The governor, who arrived in Washington Wednesday night, offered a different, simple explanation. "Last time, I think I didn't attend many public events either," he said. "I'm an introvert."
He attended the swearing-in ceremony, though he did not arrive with the rest of the first family, who were introduced over the intercom. When the governor's face flashed across the big TV screens seen by the crowds camped out to watch the ceremony, cheers erupted.
Many parties, little time
The Republican Party of Florida threw a reception Wednesday to honor the state's congressional delegation - but none of the 27 members showed up.
Many were at another party.
That's what inauguration week is like in Washington. There's always another party, across town, or even just across the hall.
Alongside a fountain in the marbled Grand Hyatt Hotel, about 300 Floridians munched on bacon-covered scallops and got their photographs taken with a man impersonating the president in a faux Oval Office. Next door, the Illinois Republicans were hosting a black tie inaugural ball.
Lt. Gov. Toni Jennings and Chief Financial Officer Tom Gallagher said a few words then were whisked to other events. Attorney General Charlie Crist was expected but never arrived.
All three, considering running for governor, said they came to Washington this week to frolic, not to raise money.
Well-wishes for Florida
Carole Jean Jordan, chairwoman of the Republican Party of Florida, told a couple of hundred sun-starved Floridians at the "Proud to be an American" breakfast that President Bush sends his well-wishes.
He sent his wishes for warm weather after a snowfall Wednesday and weather in the 20s all week. Jordan, who said she saw the president twice this week, said he told her: "You Floridians, you stay warm."
Florida Senate President Tom Lee took the stage after Jordan and said he was hoping for a heat wave. "I don't function well below 50 degrees."
House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi of California was not happy with President Bush's inauguration. In an online fund-raising appeal, she wrote: "Personally, I don't feel much like celebrating. So I'm going to mark the occasion by pledging to do everything in my power to fight the extremist Republicans' destructive agenda."
Sen. John Kerry said: "There has been a lot of talk over the last four years about uniting Americans; I hope now there will be a real effort to make true bipartisanship a priority."
Bush painted a vision of "an America that propagates freedom, democracy and prosperity around the world," the French newspaper Liberation said. ". . . One has the impression of having heard it a thousand times, and no longer believing it."
The London Times said, "Although evangelical in tone and florid in its rhetoric, Bush's 20-minute speech appeared to confirm signs that America will adapt a less unilateral foreign policy over the next four years."
The official New China News Agency reported the speech without comment.
Staff writer Anita Kumar contributed to this report, which used information from the Washington Post.