BERLIN, NH -- Former President George H.W. Bush told his hometown newspaper this week that he has come to a decision who to support in the 2012 Republican presidential field: Mitt Romney.
“I think Romney is the best choice for us,” said Bush in a story published by the Houston Chronicle today. “I like Perry, but he doesn’t seem to be going anywhere; he’s not surging forward.”
Bush further outlined his reasons for supporting Romney over Perry, or any other GOP candidate: “stability, experience, principles. He’s a fine person,” Bush told the Chronicle “I just think he’s mature and reasonable – not a bomb-thrower.”
After chatting with the former president over the phone this afternoon, Romney briefed reporters.
"I'm very encouraged by the support of President Bush for my campaign," Romney told reporters gathered outside his campaign bus. "Obviously, as you can tell, there's growing momentum for this effort here in New Hampshire and across the country, and I had the chance to chat with the president this afternoon and wish him a Merry Christmas. He did the same to me."
Romney added that the former president's support was more meaningful than just another endorsement.
"I must admit this is much more important to me personally than even politically," he said. "He's a real hero to me and to my family and I appreciate his support."
Former New Hampshire Gov. John Sununu, who served as Bush's chief of staff and is now one of Romney's top supporters in New Hampshire, echoed that sentiment.
"I think its as good as you can get, really. I can't imagine anybody running for president today who doesn't get a warm feeling getting an endorsement from George Herbert Walker Bush," Sununu said. "And as Gov. Romney said, it not only has an impact politically, but for him it means a lot personally."
Romney and Bush are described by aides to Romney as close, and Bush knew Romney's father George, a former governor of Michigan and presidential candidate, as well.
Bush has had kind things to say of Romney in the past.
"We like Mitt Romney. We know him well and like him very much," the former president told CNN's Larry King last November. "He's a reasonable guy. A conservative fellow, which is good. But, no, I think he'd be a good president, a very good president."
The two men met for lunch in Houston on Dec. 1, and while Romney said today that they did talk politics that day, he would not divulge specifics.
"We talked about the campaign and the various candidates, and I won't characterize what each of us said, and talked about our political prospects and how the campaign was going," Romney said. "They did give some advice, again I'm not going to divulge the comments they made but no, no they're friendly. There was no intrigue of any kind just a nice conversation, the president and the first lady are well and sharp as tacks."