President Bush refused to take sides Wednesday in the recall election of California Gov. Gray Davis (search) and said the decision is for Californians to make.

"I view it as an interested political observer would view it. We don't have recalls in Texas, thankfully," Bush, the former Texas governor, said at a White House Rose Garden news conference.

The president's first comments on the recall (search) came in response to a question.

He said it was up to people who live in California.

"The people of California, it's their opinion that matters on the recall. It's their decision to decide whether or not there will be a recall, which they decided. Now they get to decide who the governor's gonna be."

Californians will vote Oct. 7 whether to recall Davis, a Democrat, who was re-elected last year.

The White House has steered clear of the recall issue ever since Republican activists launched a petition drive in the spring to put the question on the ballot. But recall proponents and representatives of potential Republican candidates met Tuesday at the Los Angeles office of Gerry Parsky, Bush's top California adviser, to discuss how the state party can assist the effort.

Republicans are divided over whether the recall boosts or hurts the president's chances of carrying California in 2004.

Bush lost the state by more than 1 million votes in 2000.