Skip to main content

The Globe and Mail

In Bush Sr. endorsement, a cautionary tale for Mitt Romney

Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney reacts while greeting supporters at a rally in Schaumburg, Ill., after the winning the Illinois Republican presidential primary, Tuesday, March 20, 2012.

Steven Senne/AP/Steven Senne/AP

No victory laps for the Romney campaign after winning the endorsement of another establishment Republican - this time, George Bush Sr.

Let's be honest: winning establishment Republicans has never been Mitt Romney's challenge. It's the grassroots he has struggled with.

But the 41st president of the U.S. from 1989 to 1993 offers a cautionary tale for Mr. Romney, who has made several off-hand remarks about being friends with wealthy owners of sports teams and his wife owning several Cadillacs.

Story continues below advertisement

Twenty years ago, a moderate, eastern establishment Republican and product of an elite background committed crippling gaffes during a time of economic turmoil. The result: a candidate who seemed sorely out of touch with the struggles of ordinary Americans.

"In 1992, [President Bush]had his own Romney-like gaffes, such as not being able to guess how much a gallon of milk costs and being stunned by the use of a supermarket price scanner, which had by then been in use for years," argues Rutgers University historian David Greenberg.

Nevertheless, an endorsement is an endorsement - even if President Bush Sr. tipped his hand last December when he called Mr. Romney the best choice among the field of GOP candidates.

His wife, former first lady Barbara Bush, endorsed Mitt Romney earlier this year and even recorded a phone message for Ohio and Vermont voters ahead of the Super Tuesday contests.

"We have known the Romneys for years and believe Mitt is the best man to lead the country for the next four years. And Ann will make a great first lady," Mrs. Bush said in recording.

Interestingly, the former first lady called this year's contest the "worst campaign I've ever seen in my life."

"I hate that people think compromise is a dirty word. It's not a dirty word," she told a Dallas conference.

Story continues below advertisement

And this coming from a woman who has witnessed up close six presidential campaigns.

Report an error Licensing Options
About the Author

Affan Chowdhry is the Globe's multimedia reporter specializing in foreign news. Prior to joining the Globe, he worked at the BBC World Service in London creating international news and current affairs programs and online content for a global audience. More

Comments are closed

We have closed comments on this story for legal reasons. For more information on our commenting policies and how our community-based moderation works, please read our Community Guidelines and our Terms and Conditions.