As Steve Benen explains in the introduction [of Elephant in the Room: Washington in the Bush Years], Romney has repudiated none of the Bush program:
It’s not that Romney just hasn’t gotten around to explaining the differences between his economic vision and Bush’s; it’s that there are no differences. Shortly before the 2012 Olympics began, NBC’s Brian Williams sat down with the former Massachusetts governor and asked, “The major planks of your job plan … Explain how that would be different from what George W. Bush tried to push through?” Romney didn’t even try to answer the question. Instead, he repeated the talking points of his stump speech: he’ll “get this economy going” by way of drilling, trade, deficit reduction, education, and low taxes. This is, more or less, a description of Bush’s economic policy—though Romney intends to go further with Draconian domestic spending cuts. By dodging Williams’s question, the candidate simply reinforced the underlying point.
On foreign policy, the similarities are nearly as striking. Romney has surrounded himself with veterans of the Bush administration—including thoroughly discredited voices like Dan Senor and John Bolton, whose failures on U.S. policy in Iraq and elsewhere are the stuff of legend. He has made no secret of his desire to restore the Bush/Cheney vision in this area as well.
During Romney’s calamitous overseas trip this summer, he told a right-wing Israeli newspaper that the Arab Spring was a mistake. “Bush urged [deposed Egyptian President] Hosni Mubarak to move toward a more democratic posture,” Romney said, “but President Obama abandoned the freedom agenda and we are seeing today a whirlwind of tumult in the Middle East in part because these nations did not embrace the reforms that could have changed the course of their history, in a more peaceful manner.”
In other words, Bush’s foreign policy is gone, but not forgotten, and may soon return. The “freedom agenda” Bush/Cheney embraced as a post hoc rationalization for the war in Iraq is, according to Romney, the ideal blueprint for U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East going forward.