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Poll: George W. is the comeback kid

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Paul Bedard,Washington Secrets

Remember those billboards erected after anger grew over President Obama's stimulus spending that showed a picture of a grinning George W. Bush asking, "Miss me yet?

Well a consistently growing number of Americans are answering that question with a loud "yes!"

Deep in the latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll just published is the first hard evidence that the nation is softening on the 43rd president run out of Washington by Obama and still the target of the current president's efforts to blame somebody for the rotten economy.

According to the poll, 36 percent of the nation has a very positive to somewhat positive view of the former president, a 10-point surge since he retired to Crawford, Texas after two terms. For a year and a half Bush languished in the poll, but has recently ticked higher, though 45 percent still view him negatively. But that's better than the 53 percent who viewed him poorly after Obama took office, said pollster Peter Hart and Bill McInturff.

Their poll also revealed that the issue of Bain Capital, Mitt Romney's former firm, has a slightly less negative tinge in the eyes of the public than Obama's Solyndra scandal. The poll found that 20 percent view Bain negatively compared to 24 percent who see Solyndra negatively, a sign Mitt Romney's campaign and the GOP see as support for the candidate's strategy of highlighting the president's failed investment in the solar firm.

Obama this week unleashed new ads attacking Romney's Bain for sending jobs overseas, an issue Democrats said helps to offset voters' concerns about unemployment under Obama. Meanwhile, Romney has played up the Solyndra scandal, a strategy GOP officials said helps make the point that Obama wastefully spends on untested technologies and political friends.

"Solyndra and Bain perfectly capture the messages each campaign wants to address," pollster John Zogby told Secrets. "The Bain message is that private equity is a good thing but it allows Wall Street types to dump American jobs and ravage communities. Solyndra tells of an already bloated federal budget wasting taxpayers' money on experiments by friends of the White House."

Analyzing the issues, Zogby said, "At best, the Solyndra ads rally the Republican base as a reminder of why they have always disliked the president. The Bain ads have appeal to swing voters and get to define Romney before he is well known."