"[Bush] viewed this as an Obama victory lap," a highly-placed source told the Daily News Wednesday.
Bush's visit to the rubble after the 9/11 attacks was the emotional high point of his presidency, but associates say the invitation to return with his successor was a non-starter.
"He doesn't feel personally snubbed and appreciates the invitation, but Obama's claiming all the credit and a lot of other people deserve some of it," the source added.
"Obama gave no credit whatsoever to the intelligence infrastructure the Bush administration set up that is being hailed from the left and right as setting in motion the operation that got Bin Laden. It rubbed Bush the wrong way."
Bush spokesman David Sherzer said Bush "appreciated the invite, but has chosen in his post-presidency to remain largely out of the spotlight."
Associates familiar with his thinking say Bush does not believe Obama or his handlers wanted to exploit his presence. But the tag-team idea "was for the benefit of Obama, and Obama withheld credit from people Bush believes deserved it," a source said.
Asked about the matter at Thursday's White House briefing, spokesman Jay Carney said "this is a moment of unity for Americans and a moment to recall the unity that existed in this country in the wake of the attacks on 9/11.
"We completely understand that he's not able to come, but…the invitation was made in that spirit," Carney added.
Since leaving office in 2009 the 43rd president has stuck to a rigorous code of silence about criticizing Obama,
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