THE RACE: Romney, Obama both taking aim at Bush

By TOM RAUM | October 26, 2012 | 2:34 PM EDT

Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney boards his campaign plane at Toledo Express Airport in Toledo, Ohio, Friday, Oct. 26, 2012, as he travels to a campaign stop in Des Moines, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

As they present their closing arguments, President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney are occupying some unexpected common ground. Both are taking shots at former President George W. Bush.

Obama, who dismissively suggested 2008 rival Sen. John McCain would merely extend the Bush years, is hewing to a similar argument now, suggesting Romney wants to return to Bush-era economic policies.

But Romney is distancing himself from Bush. The two haven't campaigned together. And Romney has zinged the former Republican president more than once.

Speaking of the Obama auto bailout he opposed, Romney noted in the final presidential debate that Bush "wrote the first checks." He also explicitly said the U.S. didn't need another war like those in Iraq and Afghanistan.

At an earlier debate, Romney said he and Bush "are different people and these are different times. ... I'll crack down on China, President Bush didn't. I'm going to get us to a balanced budget, President Bush didn't. My priority is jobs. I know how to make that happen. And President Bush had a very different path."

Matt Schlapp, a former Bush political adviser, calls Romney's criticism "pretty gentle" and suggests Bush did much the same thing to "separate himself from his father," President George H.W. Bush.

As Obama did in 2008, Romney now casts himself as the candidate of "change"

The election is about "choosing real change," Romney said in Iowa Friday as the government reported a slight pickup in U.S. economic growth between July and September.

Obama argues that the only change his rival wants is returning to Bush policies.

Obama did television interviews in the White House Friday and campaigns Saturday in New Hampshire.

Vice President Joe Biden stumped in Wisconsin, home state of GOP running mate Rep. Paul Ryan — who was later teaming up with Romney in Canton, Ohio.


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