Mitt Romney clearly coveted the endorsement of George H.W. Bush. He first met with Bush the Elder in December at the former president's Texas home in an appearance everyone assumed equaled a full endorsement. However Romney staged a second event in March for the official endorsement as another photo-op with Bush 41. Meanwhile the other Bush who once occupied the oval office was nowhere to be seen, never rolled out as a public endorser even though Romney clearly wrapped up the nomination weeks ago.
George W. Bush finally entered the fray Tuesday to let the country know whom he plans to vote for this fall:
“I’m for Mitt Romney,” Bush told ABC News this morning as the doors of an elevator closed on him, after he gave a speech on human rights a block from his old home — the White House.
Yeesh, talk about lackluster. The string of Republicans reluctantly supporting Mitt Romney has become one of the dominant tropes of the 2012 election, with each seemingly unable to muster any kind of verve in the process of announcing their endorsement. But few were as cagey as Bush. He couldn't even appear in public to express his feelings; it came at the prompting of a reporter at a time when the doors were literally closed before any follow-up questions could be posed.
Even if Romney and Bush never share a stage during the campaign it's hard not to associate the two politicians. Romney's foreign policy is a full-on neocon revival from the Bush White House, and his economic advisors Glenn Hubbard and Greg Mankiw both chaired the Council of Economic Advisors for Dubya. Those ties carry a risk for Romney, as the country still largely pins the blame for the current economic woes on the decisions Bush made as president.
One has to wonder though whether that trepidation came solely from Romney's end of the equation. While much of Romney's proposals build off the policies from the Bush era, they go far beyond anything suggested while Bush was in office. As hard as this may be to imagine, Romney has in fact laid out a vision for a far more conservative White House than anything Bush oversaw. ThinkProgress has a solid rundown of nine points where Romney is more right-wing than Bush, the most notable being Romney's desire to not only make the Bush tax cuts permanent, but his to extend even further tax cuts to the wealthy. Romney might be even further right of Bush on foreign policy. After the debacle in Iraq Bush seemingly learned a lesson and resisted Dick Cheney's pleading for an attack on Iran, while Romney's bellicose campaign rhetoric indicates that he would set the country on a warpath if he became commander-in-chief.
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