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December 27. 2011 11:45PM

Romney and Bush: Too close for conservative comfort

A friend who worked for Ronald Reagan in New Hampshire in 1980 told us recently that Mitt Romney reminds him more and more of the George H.W. Bush who sat on his hands while Reagan ran rings around him. And the friend’s observation was before last week’s refusal by Romney to go one-on-one with Newt Gingrich.

How fitting that Romney has now been endorsed by the elder Bush, whose own bland rhetoric and play-it-safe campaign were knocked for a loop by the bold colors and strong conservative philosophy of the Gipper. One wonders whether the Iron Curtain would have fallen if Bush’s “kinder, gentler conservatism’’ had defeated Reagan’s “peace through strength’’ in 1980.

Romney has in his corner, in Bush One, a one-term President who lost that office when he broke his pledge to the American people. And if that weren’t enough of a reminder of that link, Romney is being supported in New Hampshire by the Greggs and Sununus.

Then, as now, the Republican “establishment’’ Greggs strongly opposed the outspoken, passionate campaigner, Ronald Reagan, and signed on with Bush in the 1980 primary. John H. Sununu engineered the Bush breaking of his no-tax pledge and worked with Warren Rudman to give the nation one of its most liberal Supreme Court justices, David Souter.

Romney, like Bush in 1980, is riding high in the polls right now. His friends’ “super PAC’’ is pounding rival Gingrich with nearly $1 million in advertising to which even The Washington Post has assigned a high “Pinocchio’’ rating for its out-and-out distortions.

There are two more debates scheduled for New Hampshire. They come after next week’s Iowa caucuses, and the field may be considerably smaller by then. So there is still time for Granite Staters to take the measure of these men and see whether Gingrich’s ideas, which led to a Republican revolution, matter more than Romney’s millions.


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