George H.W. Bush backs Romney, criticizes Gingrich

Former president George H.W. Bush has offered his support to Mitt Romney in the latter’s quest for the GOP presidential nomination, according to a Romney aide.

Romney spoke with the former president on the phone Thursday afternoon to thank him for his backing, the aide said.


Mitt Romney visits with former President George H.W. Bush, his wife Barbara and their dogs Mimi and Bibi, Thursday, Dec. 1, 2011, at their home in Houston. (Pat Sullivan/AP)

“I think Romney is the best choice for us,” former President Bush told thethe Houston Chronicle. Thursday.

But Bush, the 41st president and the father of 43rd president, stopped short of officially endorsing Romney the contest.

Bush, who told the Chronicle he has known Romney for many years, and knew Romney’s father, said he supported the younger Romney because of his “stability, experience, principles.”

“He’s a fine person,” the former president said. “I just think he’s mature and reasonable – not a bomb-thrower.”

Bush also commented on the candidacy of his fellow Texan, Gov. Rick Perry, saying, “I like Perry, but he doesn’t seem to be going anywhere; he’s not surging forward.”

Bush 41 had fewer pleasant things to say about another Republican candidate, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich. “I’m not his biggest advocate,” Bush said of Gingrich.

Gingrich was a prominent Republican congressman when Bush was in the White House, and the two clashed in 1990, when Bush needed party leaders to stand with him when he broke his “no new taxes” pledge during tough economic times.

“He was there, right outside the Oval Office. I met with all the Republican leaders, all the Democratic leaders,” Bush told the Chronicle. “The plan was, we were all going to walk out into the Rose Garden and announce this deal. Newt was right there. Got ready to go out in the Rose Garden, and I said, ‘Where’s Gingrich?’ Went up to Capitol Hill. He was here a minute ago. Went up there and started lobbying against the thing.

“He told me one time later on, he said, ‘This is the most difficult thing I ever had to do.’ I said, ‘I didn’t like it much myself, Newt.’”

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