Mitt Romney clearly wants to run away from the Bush legacy of unnecessary war, budget-busting tax cuts for the rich and economic collapse. When a town-hall debate questioner finally forced the GOP nominee to directly compare himself to Dubya earlier this week, Romney insisted: “President Bush and I are different people.” But place the two men’s biographies side by side, and the similarities that emerge are not just striking, they’re uncanny.
Here are 18 ways that Willard Mitt Romney is just like George Walker Bush:
1. They were both born to fathers named George.
George Romney was an auto industry executive and the governor of Michigan. George H.W. Bush was the 41st president of the United States.
2. Each has a patrician initial, W., in his name.
Romney’s W. is for Willard, honoring J. Willard Marriott, the hotels magnate and his father’s dear friend. Bush’s W. is for Walker, honoring his great-grandfather, George Herbert Walker, a famous financier for whom golf’s Walker Cup is named.
3. Their fathers were prominent executives before embarking on careers in politics.
George Romney was CEO of American Motors in Detroit. George H.W. Bush was a millionaire oilman, the president of Zapata Off-Shore in Texas.
4. As boys, both were brought up by beloved housekeepers of color.
The Romney family employed Birdie Nailing, an African-American woman. The Bushes relied on Paula Rendón, an immigrant from Mexico.
5. Both summered at waterfront estates in New England.
Romney kicked back at the Marriott compound on Lake Winnipesaukee, New Hampshire. Bush vacationed at his family compound in Kennebunkport, Maine.
6. Each attended an elite all-male prep school.
Romney is an alum of Cranbrook School for Boys in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan. Bush attended Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts.
7. Because neither excelled at sports, both became cheerleaders.
Romney was the caretaker of the Cranbrook cheerleading squad’s mascot, a duck. At Andover, Bush knew his way around a megaphone.
8. Each received mediocre grades in high school.
Romney was not known as a standout student (a 1961 report card obtained by the Boston Globe showed two Bs, a C and a B+). Bush lived in fear of flunking out.
9. Both rode their pedigrees to elite universities.
Romney, by then the son of Michigan’s governor, was accepted by Stanford – where his friends teased him as “just not qualified.” Bush was a legacy admission to Yale.
10. Both graduated with degrees in the liberal arts.
Romney was an English major. Bush majored in history.
11. Each dodged service in Vietnam.
Romney received draft deferments related to his Mormon mission to France. Bush served stateside in the Texas Air National Guard.
12. Their fathers each lost a prominent bid for the Republican presidential nomination.
George Romney unsuccessfully contested Richard Nixon in 1968. George Herbert Walker Bush went up against Ronald Reagan in 1980.
13. Both dads’ campaigns were defined by a reference to the paranormal.
George Romney’s 1968 campaign collapsed after he blamed his prior support for the Vietnam war on “brainwashing.” George H.W. Bush was trounced in 1980 after referring to Ronald Reagan’s tax-cut plan as “voodoo economics.”
14. They attended Harvard Business School at the same time.
Romney received his MBA in 1974, Bush in 1975.
15. Each lost his first race for national elected office.
Romney was defeated in his Senate race against Ted Kennedy in 1994. Bush lost a House bid in Texas in 1978.
16. Each became governor of his adopted home state.
Romney went on to win in Massachusetts in 2002. Bush unseated Texas governor Ann Richards in 1994.
17. As governors, each championed an issue dear to Democrats.
Romney reformed health care in Massachusetts. Bush reformed education in Texas.
18. Both campaigned for president on an “across-the-board” tax cut – and promised it wouldn’t explode the deficit.
Romney’s tax-cut math just doesn’t add up. The last time America took a faith-based plunge on this kind of tax policy, Bush turned a $5 trillion projected surplus into $5 trillion in new debt.