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updated: 8/29/2012 6:09 PM

Bush looming over GOP meeting — by video

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  • Former President George W. Bush begins his speech, Monday during the annual Jim Blanchard Leadership Forum at the Columbus Convention and Trade Center in Columbus, Ga.

      Former President George W. Bush begins his speech, Monday during the annual Jim Blanchard Leadership Forum at the Columbus Convention and Trade Center in Columbus, Ga.
    Associated Press

 
Associated Press

The legacy of former President George W. Bush hovers over the Republican National Convention even though he isn't attending or even mentioned much.

But there are plenty of reminders -- including a video being shown Wednesday night showing both Bush and his father, President George H.W. Bush. Also, the large "debt clock" in the convention hall showing the national debt at over $15.9 trillion and rising.

Mitt Romney, who gives his acceptance speech Thursday night, likes to taunt President Barack Obama for presiding over the biggest rise in the national debt of any U.S. president.

It's up $5.3 trillion so far under Obama. But Bush is a close second, with a $4.9 trillion rise over the eight years he was in office.

Many of the stimulus and bailout programs Republicans like to skewer Obama for actually originated with Bush. And the deep recession that confronted Obama began in December 2007 when Bush was still president.

Bush's former secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice, was one of Wednesday's featured speakers and his brother, Jeb, speaks Thursday.

But both are there to praise Romney, not Bush.

The most-recent GOP president remains a divisive figure in U.S. politics. And the last thing Romney needs, with the race so close, is more divisiveness.

Not attending or speaking seemed just fine with Bush. He's mostly stayed on the sidelines, endorsing Romney -- but hastily and with few words. He skipped the 2008 GOP convention too, addressing delegates by video.

Romney ducked out of his own convention Wednesday to tell the American Legion Convention in Indianapolis he would fight against threatened "reckless" defense cuts and "get American to work again," before returning to Tampa, Fla., for running-mate Paul Ryan's Wednesday night acceptance speech.

Obama ended a two-day, three-state campaign swing with a rally in Charlottesville, Va.

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