On issue after issue, John McCain, Mitt Romney, and Mike Huckabee have shown themselves eager to carry on President Bush’s legacy. There has been almost no distinction between their rhetoric in recent GOP debates and Bush’s 2008 State of the Union address. What they have promised, essentially, is a third Bush term. A look at the issues:
Taxes: “[M]ake the tax relief permanent.”
Immigration: “America needs to secure our borders.”
Iraq Surge: “[S]ome may deny the surge is working, but among the terrorists there is no doubt.”
Iraq Withdrawal: “We will not rest until this enemy has been defeated.”
Health Care: “The best way to achieve that goal is by expanding consumer choice, not government control.”
ThinkProgress has put together a video showing the conservative candidates’ eagerness to mimic Bush’s policies and carry on his legacy. Watch it:
THE CONSERVATIVE AGENDA FOR 2008: A THIRD BUSH TERM
BUSH’S THIRD TERM: ‘MAKE THE TAX RELIEF PERMANENT’
BUSH: With all the other pressures on their finances, American families should not have to worry about the Federal Government taking a bigger bite out of their paychecks. There is only one way to eliminate this uncertainty: make the tax relief permanent.
McCAIN: We need to make the Bush tax cuts permanent, which I voted for twice to do.
ROMNEY: Now, I also support the Bush tax cuts.
McCAIN: I think they stimulate the economy. I think that one of the first things we have to do that I forgot to mention is make these tax cuts permanent.
ROMNEY: The Bush tax cuts helped get our economy going again when we faced the last tough times.
BUSH’S THIRD TERM: ‘SECURE OUR BORDERS’
BUSH: The other pressing challenge is immigration. America needs to secure our borders — and with your help, my Administration is taking steps to do so.
McCAIN: I will secure the borders first. And I will have the border states’ governors certify that those borders are secured.
HUCKABEE: What we’ve got to do is to have a secure border fence, something I have proposed that we do within 18 months of taking office.
ROMNEY: We secure the border, we have the fence, we have enough border patrol agents to secure the border and we have employment verification system of some kind.
BUSH’S THIRD TERM: ‘THE SURGE IS WORKING’
BUSH: Ladies and gentlemen, some may deny the surge is working, but among the terrorists there is no doubt. Al Qaida is on the run in Iraq, and this enemy will be defeated.
McCAIN: As the president said, we are winning. We have not defeated al Qaeda. But I am proud of the success of the surge and I am proud of the leadership we have.
HUCKABEE: The surge is working and one thing we have seen, it has been a dramatic success.
ROMNEY: I met with my staff and announced that day that I supported a surge. The president announced later that day the entire program.
McCAIN: The fact is as we blame the president for the failed strategy, we should give him credit for changing the strategy and changing the leadership so that we now have I think one of the finest military leaders in American history in David Petraeus.
BUSH’S THIRD TERM: ‘WE WILL NOT REST UNTIL THIS ENEMY HAS BEEN DEFEATED’
BUSH: Al Qaida’s top commander in Iraq declared that they will not rest until they have attacked us here in Washington. My fellow Americans: We will not rest either. We will not rest until this enemy has been defeated.
McCAIN: I think the president’s assessment is exactly right.
ROMNEY: We cannot turn Iraq over to al Qaeda and have al Qaeda have a safe haven from which they could recruit people to carry out bombings, to attack this country and our friends around the world. It’s unthinkable. And that’s why I will not walk away from Iraq until we have been successful and finish that job.
McCAIN: I also totally agree with him that the decisions on further withdrawals should not be made by politicians in Washington but by general Petraeus and acting on his recommendations.
HUCKABEE: The one thing I do agree with is that we need to leave with victory, and we need to leave with honor. And the reason we need to is because, if we leave a bigger mess in Iraq than is there now, it is not just going to affect Iraq.
McCAIN: If we would have done what the Democrats had wanted to do six months ago, al Qaeda would be trumpeting to the world that they beat us. I’ll never let that happen. We’ll never surrender.
BUSH’S THIRD TERM: ‘EXPAND CONSUMER CHOICE’ ON HEALTH CARE
BUSH: We share a common goal: making health care more affordable and accessible for all Americans. The best way to achieve that goal is by expanding consumer choice, not government control.
ROMNEY: If you take the government out of it to a much greater extent, you’d get it to work like a market and it will rein in cost.
McCAIN: And they can — and they will be able to go out and choose their insurer anywhere in America and they will be able then to get affordable health care in America.
‘LET’S NOT BLAME PRESIDENT BUSH’
HUCKABEE: And the real issue, though, let’s not blame President Bush for all of this. We’ve got a Congress who sat around on their hands and done nothing but spend a lot of money.
ROMNEY: I don’t think we would say it’s better off than it was eight years ago, to be truthful. I think the eight years that you’ve seen — and I don’t blame that on President Bush. I blame that on Washington.
HUCKABEE: So I think if we’re asking is George Bush responsible for all this, no.