George H.W. Bush Backs Mitt Romney

He didn’t quite make a formal endorsement but it’s the closest thing to it. For months I’ve predicted that the Bush family would be backing former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. One sign: Republican political maven Karl Rove has clearly been critical of candidates giving Romney serious competition.

But now The Act (endorsement) is (at least) partly done: Former President George H.W. Bush says his favorite is Mitt Romney – and he is not one of former House Speaker Newt Gingrich’s fans:

Less than two weeks before Iowa Republicans make their crucial caucus choices on the night of Jan. 3, George H.W. Bush offered support, if not an official endorsement, to an old friend, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney.

“I think Romney is the best choice for us,” former President Bush told the Houston Chronicle this week. “I like Perry, but he doesn’t seem to be going anywhere; he’s not surging forward.”

Bush said he had known Romney for many years and also knew his father, George Romney, a former Republican governor of Michigan who campaigned for president in 1968.

He supported Romney because of his “stability, experience, principles. He’s a fine person,” Bush said. “I just think he’s mature and reasonable — not a bomb-thrower.”

Hmmmmmmmm. I wonder who that referred to? Well — Bush claims — no one:

Bush denied that the latter label implied that the candidate field includes any bomb-throwers.

The person usually called a bomb thrower is Gingrich. Can you put two and two together? Then add this:

Choosing his words carefully, the former president said he knew Gingrich relatively well.

“I’m not his biggest advocate,” he said.

“I had a conflict with him at one point,” Bush recalled, alluding to the crucial moment in 1990 when a recession drove him to renege on his “no new taxes” pledge. He needed a bipartisan group of party leaders, including then-House Whip Gingrich, to stand with him.

“He was there, right outside the Oval Office. I met with all the Republican leaders, all the Democratic leaders,” Bush recalled. “The plan was, we were all going to walk out into the Rose Garden and announce this deal. Newt was right there. Got ready to go out in the Rose Garden, and I said, ‘Where’s Gingrich?’ Went up to Capitol Hill. He was here a minute ago. Went up there and started lobbying against the thing.

“He told me one time later on, he said, ‘This is the most difficult thing I ever had to do.’ I said, ‘I didn’t like it much myself, Newt.’?”

AND”

“I’ve got to be a little careful because I like Perry; he’s our governor,” he said.

Joe Householder, a Houston-based political consultant, said that with his not-an-endorsement statements, the former president probably was drawing a distinction for voters around the country who may not be aware of the historic antipathy between the Bush and Perry camps. In last year’s Republican gubernatorial primary, with Perry seeking a history-making third term as governor, the Bushes endorsed U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison.

Will his non-endorsement endorsement matter? Most assuredly yes. It is yet another signal that Romney is someone of particular interest for people who may be center-right — and not into bomb or tea party throwing politicians.

Just listen to and watch Karl Rove. It’s most likely what the two former Bush Presidents and Jeb Bush are thinking. It is not that Rove is parroting them; he comes from the same political culture.

Center right. Establishment. Where compromise is not a filthy word but an often needed and highly constructive act.

Reasonable not just venal.

All the reason why some in the GOP now want anybody but Romeny.