Romney Faces George W. Bush Dilemma

Mitt Romney is facing a dilemma in how to publicly tackle George W. Bush’s tenure.

Some of Bush’s relatives have recently endorsed Romney, and he will likely be asked about Bush’s legacy and policies on the campaign trail. 

The former president remains unpopular with most voters, and polls indicate people still blame him for the ailing economy. But he is liked by large factions of the Republican Party, making it politically dangerous for Romney to criticize him directly.

Romney has rarely mentioned Bush in his 2012 bid for the presidency. During a Thursday press conference where he was endorsed by former President George H.W. Bush and former first lady Barbara Bush, Romney downplayed his connection to their son.

But Bush’s image has improved somewhat since he left office. His approval rating in a September CNN poll had risen to 42 percent, a jump from the 33 percent approval rating he had in CNN's February 2009 poll.

That included an 82 percent favorability rating from Republicans and 64 percent from conservatives. Some of his policies, including income tax rates, remain highly popular with the GOP base.

“[Romney is] walking a tightrope between the base and the Obama spin machine,” said GOP strategist Ford O’Connell. “He’s going to have to distinguish himself from Bush.

Read more from Cameron Joseph and The Hill

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published this page in In The News 2012-03-30 10:00:00 -0400
Analysis & Political Strategy