Romney: Credit Bush, Not Obama, for the Recovery

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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.