George H.W. Bush calls Mitt Romney ‘the best choice’ in 2012 campaign

Mitt Romney has picked up a major, if still unofficial, endorsement in his bid for the Republican presidential nomination.

Former President George H.W. Bush told the Houston Chronicle he believes Romney is the best candidate in the race—though he stopped short of officially endorsing his 2012 bid.

"I think Romney is the best choice for us," Bush told the Houston Chronicle. "I like Perry, but he doesn't seem to be going anywhere; he's not surging forward."

The ex-president, who is personally close to Romney, praised the former governor's "stability, experience, principles."

"He's mature and reasonable—not a bomb thrower," Bush said, adding that he didn't mean to besmirch anybody in the field. "I've got to be a little careful, because I like Perry; he's our governor."

Yet Bush wasn't nearly as kind about Newt Gingrich, admitting that he knows the former House speaker well and isn't a fan. "I'm not his biggest advocate," he said.

Bush's support of Romney isn't that surprising. In an interview with CNN's Larry King last year, he and his wife, Barbara, praised Romney, saying he would make a "very good president."

Romney has worked hard to woo the Bush family over the years. Four years ago, most of the Bush family, including the former president and his son Jeb, supported John McCain—though they waited to endorse until after Romney had dropped out of the race.

Earlier this month, Romney traveled to Houston, where he visited the former president and first lady.

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