George H.W. Bush backs Mitt Romney, praises Rick Perry, criticizes Newt Gingrich


Republican presidential candidates former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney chat before a debate hosted by CNBC and the Michigan Republican Party at Oakland University on Nov. 9, 2011, in Rochester, Mich.


Scott Olson

Former President George H.W. Bush has offered an informal endorsement of Mitt Romney, an old family friend.

According to the Houston Chronicle, Bush called Romney "a fine person" and said the former Massachusetts governor was "mature and responsible — not a bomb thrower."

Romney "is the best choice for us... because of his stability, experience, principles," said Bush in an article accompanied by an intimate photo spread at the Houston home of the former first couple and featuring Romney in apparent jovial mood sitting with President Bush, former First Lady Barbara, and the couple's dogs Mimi and Bibi. It was published on the Chronicle website Thursday

The New York Times quoted a spokesman for Bush as confirmed the accuracy of the comments and said they fully reflect the views of the former president.

Romney, in in Berlin, New Hampshire, on Thursday as part of a bus tour across the state, told the Boston Globe:

“I’m very encouraged by the support of President Bush. As you can tell there’s growing momentum for this effort, here in New Hampshire and across the country. I must admit this is much more important to me personally than even politically."

Bush told the Chronicle that he liked his fellow Texan, Rick Perry, but said Perry didn’t “seem to be going anywhere; he’s not surging forward."

Of Newt Gingrich, Bush said: “I’m not his biggest advocate.”

He recalled what The Times calls a "pivotal moment in his presidency" when he was counting on Gingrich's support — "during budget talks of 1990, in which Bush decided to break his “Read my lips: No new taxes” pledge in exchange for budget discipline that would lead to a balanced budget."

Instead Gingrich went to Capitol Hill to lobby against the president’s bill.

He recounted the incident:

“He was there, right outside the Oval Office. I met with all the Republican leaders, all the Democratic leaders. 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.’”