COMMENTARY | Billboards and bumper stickers have appeared with George W. Bush's visage. But they haven't helped boost his image. A CNN poll showed him to be the least liked living president, including even Jimmy Carter. He trails former President Bill Clinton by 23 percentage points.
Instead of trying to boost the image of this unpopular ex-president, Republicans are trying a different tactic. They are linking him to any Democrat who cast a vote for a Bush program. The "60 Plus Association," a conservative version of the AARP led by entertainer Pat Boone, is running an ad criticizing Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, for voting for Bush's and Barack Obama's bailouts. It should be noted John Boehner and many Ohio Republicans did as well.
Rick Santorum tried to distance himself from George W. Bush on the subject of bailouts, saying he blamed Bush for those moreso than Obama.
Additionally, Republicans are doing their best to link primary opponents to Bush. In the Arizona Senate race, much has been made of how Jeff Flake's immigration proposal became Bush's immigration stand. Flake's conservative opponent, businessman Wil Cardon, criticized this bill that some conservatives call amnesty for illegal immigration .
It's not a bad idea. Polls earlier this year showed a Bush endorsement might help a Republican somewhat in the primaries but would hurt in the general election. Mitt Romney must have cringed when Bush endorsed him. Luckily, it was yelled out of an elevator, and confidantes say they don't expect the two to campaign together. Republicans have become smarter, linking Bush to Democrats instead of themselves.