SOURCE: Bloomberg View
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Ezra Klein: George W. Bush Haunts Mitt RomneyRoundup: Media's Take
Ezra Klein is a columnist and blogger at The Washington Post and a policy analyst for MSNBC.
Mitt Romney has a George W. Bush problem.
In fact, that’s Romney’s biggest problem. It’s George W. Bush, not Barack Obama, who has made voters skeptical of many of Romney’s core policies. It’s George W. Bush, not Obama campaign strategist David Plouffe, who persuaded voters that our economic troubles aren’t mainly Obama’s fault. And so it is, in a sense, the electorate’s lingering fear of George W. Bush, as much as its residual affection for Barack Obama, that Romney needs to beat if he’s to become president.
At Tuesday’s debate, Romney was given a chance to do just that. A voter from Nassau County stood up and asked: “Governor Romney, I am an undecided voter, because I’m disappointed with the lack of progress I’ve seen in the last four years. However, I do attribute much of America’s economic and international problems to the failings and missteps of the Bush administration. Since both you and President Bush are Republicans, I fear a return to the policies of those years should you win this election. What is the biggest difference between you and George W. Bush, and how do you differentiate yourself from George W. Bush?”
That’s a slow pitch right over the middle of the plate. Romney should’ve been prepared to crush it. In fact, he should’ve been hoping against hope that someone would ask exactly that question.
But Romney didn’t crush it. Astonishingly, his first instinct was to ignore it...
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