Continued from page 1

Mr. Gonzalez brushed off the notion that the candidates are running away from his former boss’s record. He said they are simply focused on Mr. Obama’s failures and the future of the country, not the past.

“They are not talking about Bush because Bush didn’t give us Obamacare or ‘cash for clunkers’ or Dodd-Frank or the stimulus that didn’t work or unemployment at 9 percent or an economy growing at 1 percent,” Mr. Gonzalez said.

Mr. Theissen acknowledged that Mr. Bush’s spending record was not as conservative as some would have liked. But he said Mr. Bush was perhaps the most conservative president ever and dismissed the notion that the GOP candidates are running away from their party’s former leader.

“The fact is that Barack Obama has increased the debt more in his first three years in office than George W. Bush did in his entire eight years,” Mr. Theissen said. “The mainstream media and others are going to try to draw the focus back to the Bush administration and the Obama campaign is trying to focus back on the Bush administration, but conservatives and the Republican nominee are going to want to keep the focus straight on where it belongs, which is on the president and why he should be fired.”

Mr. McKenna, though, said Mr. Bush’s terms amounted to “a failed presidency and disaster.”

He said the former president may get more mentions when the other candidates begin to attack Mr. Romney in earnest. He predicted one of the other rivals will paint Mr. Romney as “George Bush in a different suit with slightly nicer hair.”

“Go down the roster of the guys in the Romney campaign, they all look suspiciously familiar,” he said. “I’ve seen all these guys in the Bush administration themselves or in the Bush campaign. I don’t get why no one is calling Romney out and saying, ‘Did you like George Bush’s eight years because we got a guy who is going to give you eight more.’ “

“The Romney guys make no bones about it, they understand what is going on,” he said. “It is to their advantage not to say a word about Bush, so they don’t, and everybody else looks at it and thinks why bring up an ugly chapter in the family’s past.”