KENNEBUNKPORT -- When his grandfather ran for president in 1988, George Prescott Bush debuted on the political stage as a precocious 12-year-old, leading the crowds at the Republican National Convention in the Pledge of Allegiance.
At 24, George P., or ''P," as he is nicknamed, emerged as a public figure (and national heartthrob) during his uncle's 2000 presidential campaign -- traveling the country as a surrogate for George W. Bush, giving a full-length speech at the convention, and posing for a photo spread in People magazine, which picked him as one of the country's most eligible bachelors.
George P. took himself off that list yesterday, marrying Amanda Williams, a fellow graduate of the University of Texas Law School, at an elegant family ceremony here. With tents and security perimeters, the Bush family did its best to shield the service and reception from public view. That was difficult: In attendance were the president of the United States, the former president, the Florida governor, who is also the father of the groom, and three generations of Bushes.
Symbolically, the private nature of the event reflected the quieter role that 28-year-old George P. is playing in the 2004 campaign, as well as the muted talk these days about the enduring Bush family lock on higher office.
Just before 5 p.m., guests in bright summer outfits streamed into St. Ann's Episcopal church, a simple stone structure on the water's edge, less than a mile from the family's summer home. Bridesmaids, wearing floor-length orange dresses, lined up at the church's back door, as they waited for the service to begin. About a half-hour later, the wedding party emerged and traveled a few hundred feet to the reception, under a tent in the back of a local inn.
Bush did not attend the reception, directing his motorcade back to Walker's Point at 6 p.m., after the service.
The difference from a decade ago is striking. Back then, Republican tongues regularly wagged about the future of the Bush political dynasty, as brothers George W. and Jeb rose to power in Texas and Florida, and the elder followed their father's footsteps into the White House.
Now, after four years of a Bush administration in Washington, there is far less chatter among Republicans about Jeb Bush's possible ambitions. Over the last few months, several Republicans have said they see no signs that Jeb is planning to run for president in 2008.
Instead, several Republicans said the Bush family's clear focus is on more immediate matters, especially the 2004 race, rather than propelling Jeb or his son, or any other members of the family, into more powerful political roles.
''There's not as much talk right now," said Ron Kaufman, a Republican operative who worked for former President George H.W. Bush. ''Among those who care about the extended Bush family, everyone is focused all on one thing: '04. Right now no one is trying to figure out anything other than '04. I think you'll find in January '05 tongues will start wagging again."
Whether the political tongue-wagging will involve anyone beyond Jeb is unclear. Bush family members have reportedly told George P. to work on his career and family before pondering a political future. He is expected to attend rallies for Bush as the campaign wears on, especially because he speaks Spanish and appeals to critical voting blocs, young people and Hispanics.
Since graduating from UT Law School, he has clerked for US Judge Sidney Fitzwater in Dallas and plans to take a new position in corporate law this fall with the firm Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld. His wife works in commercial and labor litigation at Jackson Walker, a Fort Worth law firm.
The president's twin daughters, Jenna and Barbara, have shown no interest in pursuing political careers, nor have the Florida governor's two other children, or any members of the extended family. Successful careers in the family include that of model Lauren Bush and television personality Billy Bush. If anything, Kaufman said, the younger generation of Bushes follow the model of John F. Kennedy Jr., who thrived as a celebrity and political journalist but did not seek political office.
Yesterday, the family's main pursuit, apart from the wedding, was fishing on a powerboat off the coast of the family's seaside home at Walker's Point. According to photographers in a nearby boat, Jenna Bush caught a 38-inch striped bass, before throwing it back into the ocean.
''Jenna caught it. Jenna caught the fish!" Bush shouted to the boatload of photographers.