Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney said presidential candidate John McCain has his own agenda and won't continue President Bush's policies.
"John McCain is his own man," said Romney, a former McCain rival for the Republican nomination who has been mentioned as a potential running mate.
"On economic matters, John McCain is in a very different place" than Bush, Romney said in an interview on Bloomberg Television's "Political Capital With Al Hunt" airing Saturday. "John McCain has been a frequent and vocal critic of George Bush. If you look at the conduct of the war in Iraq, John McCain was probably as outspoken a critic of the Bush administration as anyone."
Romney, 60, called McCain's health care plan "bold" and "a real re-orientation" of the nation's health-care system.
"He presents some real strengths as an independent, maverick voice," Romney said.
Republicans in growing numbers are distancing themselves from the unpopular president in this presidential and congressional election year. Democrats are trying to capitalize on the public dissatisfaction by labeling a McCain administration as a third Bush term.
Romney is in Sedona, Ariz., this weekend attending a barbecue at McCain's ranch with several other prominent Republicans, including Florida Gov. Charlie Crist and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal. The gathering has been dubbed a vice-presidential tryout.
Romney said that his primary campaign against McCain, an Arizona senator, makes it unlikely that he'll land the job as running mate.
"I don't think there's much likelihood that I'm on that list," Romney said. A number of people with strong credentials "weren't part of the last campaign," he said. McCain has "a lot of folks to choose from."
During his campaign, Romney said that Islamic jihadists are one of the biggest challenges America faces. In the interview, he criticized Democratic frontrunner Barack Obama, an Illinois senator, for his willingness to meet with foreign leaders, including U.S. foes such as Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
And setting a timetable for withdrawing troops from Iraq, as Obama has vowed to do, "would be something al-Qaida would be delighted to see," Romney said. Obama's foreign policy, he said, "shows a level of naivete that, well, it's similar to what we're seeing with Jimmy Carter," the former U.S. president who recently met with Palestinian leaders of Hamas, which the U.S. designates as a terrorist organization.
Romney also took on California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger for his failure to condemn a California Supreme Court ruling that threw out that state's ban on same-sex marriage. Schwarzenegger, a Republican, won't support a state constitutional amendment to overturn the court ruling.
"I don't agree with Governor Schwarzenegger on this," Romney said. "It will be an issue."
"I feel very deeply that you don't discriminate against people who are same-sex partners," Romney said. "At the same time, marriage, in my view, is a relationship reserved for a man and a woman."