ByÂ Seth McLaughlin-The Washington Times
George W. BushÂ left office less than three years ago, but for the Republicans seeking to fill his shoes as the next president, the mere mention of his name has been all but absent.
Since the first broadly attended debate at St. Anselm College on June 13, the contenders have logged about 20 hours facing off against one another across 10 debates, and have mentioned their former party leader just 16 times.
Wipe away the instances in whichÂ Mitt RomneyÂ was talking aboutÂ Mr. BushÂ as governor, not president, and the number dips to just a dozen mentions – including times when the candidates were trying to stress their differences with the 43rd president.
â€œNobody is writing a story about this guy was president just 2 1/2 years ago. It wasnâ€™t like he was president four decades ago. But he was banished to the Siberia of American politics,â€ saidÂ Mike McKenna, aGOPÂ strategist. â€œNobody wants to be near him. Nobody wants to talk about him. Nobody wants to utter his name.â€
Since leaving office in 2009,Â Mr. BushÂ has kept a low profile in national politics, though he is expected to speak via video to a World AIDS Day event Thursday along with PresidentÂ ObamaÂ and former PresidentÂ Bill Clinton.
But policies he pushed, including the Wall Street and auto-company bailouts and the record deficits he notched, continue to cast a shadow over the election and are credited with helping give birth to the tea party movement that candidates more closely adhere to now.
While the majority of the field has expressed some level of support for Mr.Â Bushâ€™s Freedom Agenda – his use of enhanced interrogations of terrorist suspects and the tax cuts in 2001 and 2003 – they have shied away from broaching his name.
In the most recent debate,Â Paul Wolfowitz, deputy secretary of defense under Mr.Â Bush, asked the candidates whether it was wise under theBush administrationÂ to spend billions of dollars to fight AIDS and malaria in Africa and on theÂ Millennium Challenge Corp.Â to encourage poor countries to pursue policies that promote economic growth.
Without mentioning his name, formerÂ Sen. Rick SantorumÂ of Pennsylvania praised the effort, saying it was â€œabsolutely essential for our national security.â€
Otherwise,Â Mr. BushÂ has been the subject of drive-by mentions.
Mr. RomneyÂ said the auto bailout was wrong â€œwhether it was by PresidentÂ BushÂ or by PresidentÂ Obama,â€ and former House SpeakerNewt GingrichÂ said the â€œfact is, in both the Bush andÂ Obamaadministrationsâ€ the fix has been in at theÂ Federal Reserve.Â Mr. SantorumÂ claimed he is the most electable Republican because in the 2000 race he was the â€œonly senator to win a state who is a conservative thatÂ George BushÂ lost.â€ Rep. Ron Paul of Texas applaudedÂ Mr. BushÂ for campaigning against nation-building during his 2000 presidential campaign.
Larry J. Sabato, director of the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia, said Republican candidates â€œwant to start out fresh, without having to carryÂ Bushâ€™s baggage.â€
He said the treatment ofÂ Mr. BushÂ is similar to that of other presidents who seemed to drag on their parties.
Don’t let the MSM censor your news as America becomes Great Again. Over 500,000 Americans receive our daily dose of life, liberty and pursuit of happiness along with Breaking News direct to their inbox—and you can too. Sign up to receive news and views from The 1776Coalition!
We know how important your privacy is and your information is SAFE with us. We’ll never sell
your email address and you can unsubscribe at any time directly from your inbox.