Privately, though, some in Romneyland who believe Bush has done enduring damage to the GOP brand are nudging the candidate to, at least implicitly, separate himself from the last Republican in the White House.
“Stay tuned,” said one longtime Romney adviser when asked why they weren’t faulting both parties for the economic and the paralysis in the capital.
Some conservatives believe there’s a way for the former Massachusetts governor to do so without directly pointing at Bush.
“He hasn’t been willing to say what he probably actually believes, which is that we’ve had a lot of problems building that Obama has either not solved or made worse,” said National Review editor and Bloomberg columnist Ramesh Ponnuru. “If you use that argument, it’s, No. 1, more plausible than saying everything went to hell in 2009 and everything was fine before then. Two, it’s what he believes, I think. And third, it’s something that achieves separation from Bush without explicitly repudiating him. You don’t have to say his name, you just say, “We’ve had these problems for some time and talk about the dysfunctional Tax Code, dysfunctional health care system and dysfunctional entitlements we haven’t tackled.”
Such rhetoric wouldn’t be new for the Republican hopeful — he launched a similar offensive in his first presidential campaign.