COMMENTARY | Mitt Romney showed tremendous political common sense today during a speech in St. Petersburg, Fla. On Tuesday, he received an endorsement from former President George W. Bush, and today Romney would not mention his name, according to CNN.
Romney was so averse to speaking about Bush that he avoided it several times within the space of a few seconds. He referred only to the Bush with the word "predecessor." The presentation sounded like some writing intern had used a "find and replace" command to swap the two words in the speech.
Romney said Obama "was very critical of his predecessor because the predecessor put together $4 trillion of debt over eight years." That's enough verbal bobbing and weaving to remind me of the movie "Dodgeball."
Why would a candidate for the presidency be so reluctant to mutter the name of an endorser as prominent as one of the few living men to hold the office he seeks? My guess is because Romney is smart enough to realize Bush might be one of the worst presidents the nation has been unlucky enough to have -- and the public knows it.
If you had to sell a house from 2006 to the end of Bush's second term you might remember a drop in value. If you lost your job you might remember an ever-growing number of people joining you on the rolls of public assistance. You might even remember the Bush administration being so unable to fix that problem that it changed the rules on how unemployment rates are calculated.
You won't remember any of those things because of a word out of Romney's mouth, though. Romney might be a lot of things, but he's not ignorant of the effect being associated with Bush might have on his public image.