Bush's Specter Casts Shadow Over Romney

Tim Sloan/AFP/Getty Images

The ties between Mitt Romney and the old GOP guard of George W. Bush just became a bit stronger.

Though some of his advisers are veterans of the Bush administration, Romney has tried to distance himself from the former president, whose toxic approval ratings would threaten to drag down the candidate. Bush didn't even offer to support Romney until we caught up with him in an elevator in May.

As far as we know, Romney and Bush have spoken only once during the campaign - in the days after that fleeting endorsement, by phone.

But now Romney is painting himself with Bush's war colors. At a fundraiser with Dick Cheney, Romney earned ebullient praise from the former vice president, who is even less popular than Bush. And after the press had been kicked out of the room, Romney was overheard mentioning "George W. Bush" and "freedom agenda." He didn't so much as drop Bush's name during the part of the fundraiser.

Want more off-the-cuff politics? Check out OTUS on Facebook and follow us on Twitter @OTUSNews.

Working down the line of succession, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has made her way into Romney's circle too. In a rousing red-meat speech, Rice struck partisan tones in front of Romney donors behind closed doors at a retreat last month.

Teeing off her enthusiastic reception, someone floated her name as a possible running mate to the right-leaning Drudge Report aggregation site, the main driver of news on the Internet.

It's unlikely that Rice would actually be on the ticket (for one, she's not anti-abortion), but even for her name to be mentioned suggests that the Romney and Bush circles are overlapping more than ever.

Get more pure politics at ABC News.com/Politics and a lighter take on the news at OTUSNews.com