Romney: Credit Bush, Not Obama, for the Recovery

BOSTON, UNITED STATES:  US President George W. Bush (R) addresses a one million USD Republican fundraiser for Massachusetts gubernatorial candidate Mitt Romney (L) at the Seaport Hotel o4 October, 2002 in Boston, Massachusetts. Both Bush and former president Bill Clinton are campaigning in the Bay State as Republicans try to extend a 12-year grip on the governorship of this otherwise Democratic-controlled commonwealth. The office is open because acting Governor Jane Swift, who moved up when Governor Paul Cellucci was named ambassador to Canada, stepped aside for Romney when polls showed he had a far better chance of winning.    AFP PHOTO/TIM SLOAN (Photo credit should read TIM SLOAN/AFP/Getty Images)
Political gold. Photo: TIM SLOAN

Mitt Romney’s old campaign line was that the economy is a disaster and it’s Barack Obama’s fault. In the face of positive signs, he has begun edging away from that, and today tried out a wee variation:

"I keep hearing the president say he's responsible for keeping the country out of a Great Depression," Romney said at a town hall in Arbutus, Maryland. "No, no, no, that was President George W. Bush and [then-Treasury Secretary] Hank Paulson."

So things are fine now, thanks to George W. Bush!

There is certainly some truth to this — Bush passed the financial bailout in 2008, though most economists believe that the stimulus, bank restructuring, and auto bailout also prevented a deeper plunge in 2009.

Politically, though, this new emphasis seems problematic for Romney. For one thing, Obama’s plan is to depict Romney as continuing the failed policies of the Bush administration. Praising Bush’s economic stewardship is probably not the wisest strategy.

Second, the Wall Street bailout is actually a huge political liability for Obama because it’s incredibly unpopular and most Americans think Obama, not Bush, signed it. So having Romney run around reminding people that Bush bailed out Wall Street is actually Obama’s prayer answered.

This does not seem to be Romney’s best day on the trail.