Continued from page 1

Mitt Romney has assembled a diverse group of highly respected policy thinkers,” Ms. Saul said. “He fields their opinions, evaluates them and ultimately makes his own decisions on policy.”

Democrats, meanwhile, seem giddy with the idea of tying Mr. Romney to Mr. Bush, who has kept a low public profile since leaving office and whose name has been rarely uttered by the GOP candidates in the primary race.

“I think people absolutely blame the previous agenda for the economic free fall and they have no interest of going back to that,” said Mo Elliethee, a Democratic strategist. “The fact that he has surrounded himself with a lot of people who got us into this mess is telling, but he can still take things in a different direction — and he doesn’t want to do that.”

Mr. Obama, who rode into office aboard a message of hope and change, used a similar message to formally launch his campaign over the weekend, painting Mr. Romney’s way of thinking as a relic of the not-too-distant past.

“Somehow, he and his friends in Congress think that the same bad ideas will lead to a different result,” he told a crowd in Ohio. “Or they’re just hoping you won’t remember what happened the last time we tried it their way. Well, Ohio, I’m here to say that we were there, we remember, and we are not going back. We are moving this country forward.”