Mitt argues that George W. Bush saved the economy, not Obama — but does allying himself with Bush do him more harm than good?
Shortly after winning the endorsement of Florida Governor Jeb Bush, Mitt Romney gave a shout-out to another Bush. Sure, the economy is looking rosier, Mitt said, but don't thank President Obama. It's really former President George W. Bush who deserves the credit for staving off another Great Depression; after all, he's the one who signed the Wall Street bailout. Though Romney seems assured of the Republican nomination, some pundits questioned his decision to show support for a president whom many voters still blame for the weak economy. Is Romney risking a backlash?
He should beware of aligning himself with George W. Bush: In a general election match-up with Mitt, President Obama would likely portray Romney as someone who'll continue "the failed policies of the Bush administration," says Jonathan Chait at New York Magazine. And that might be a winning plan: A February survey by Quinnipiac University found that 51 percent of voters still blame Bush for the current condition of the economy. So praising George W. Bush's "economic stewardship is probably not the wisest strategy." Romney just gave Obama a big assist.
"Romney: Credit Bush, not Obama, for the recovery"
It's a dangerous position to take, but Romney's pretty safe: Romney does seem to be pivoting away from "the economy's a hopeless disaster under Obama" message to a more daring "yeah, okay, the economy's starting to come back — thanks to Bush" message, but this isn't a big deal, says Allahpundit at Hot Air. Romney said "over and over again before the first votes were cast in Iowa" that he believes the Wall Street bailout was necessary, "and he's got the nomination all but cinched three months later." Obviously, his touting of the bailout (and, by extension, Bush) didn't turn off Republicans in sufficient numbers.
"Romney: It was Bush and Hank Paulson, not Obama, who saved the economy with TARP"
He doesn't have much of a choice: Yes, it's a tough argument to make, says Molly Ball at The Atlantic. But as Romney fends off attacks from his biggest rival, Rick Santorum, and crawls slowly to what he hopes will amount to 1,144 delegates before the National Convention in August, he seems to be thinking that he has to start acting like the nominee. After all, it might be "the best way to get the Republican Party to see him as its standard-bearer" in what looks like a protracted fight ahead.
"Mitt Romney's counterfactual economic argument"
Other stories from this topic:
- The Bullpen: President Romney vs. President Obama
- Opinion Brief: Romney's assault on 'ObamaCare': Smart politics or blatant hypocrisy?
- Opinion Brief: Mitt Romney makes it (almost) official: Is he still the GOP frontrunner?