Memories of his heavily criticized handling of Hurricane Katrina were revived by the uncanny timing of Hurricane Isaac's landfall in Louisiana nearly seven years to the day after the hurricane devastated New Orleans.
The large, fast-ticking "debt clock" prominent on the convention hall wall was as much a reminder of spending woes under a Republican administration as a Democratic one.
"Let's face it, George W. Bush didn't do us conservatives a lot of favors by the end of his administration," said James Smack, a Nevada delegate to the convention.
Others talked more fondly of Bush — when asked about him.
"I have tremendous respect for President Bush," said Robyn Johnson of Wichita, Kansas. "He led our country during difficult times."
Bush is not the first past president whose mere name has had the potential to cause trouble for the nominee; both parties have struggled with how to handle recent former presidents.
In 2000, then-President Bill Clinton — who had been impeached — spoke at the Democratic National Convention but was marginalized by nominee Al Gore during the campaign.
Clinton's standing improved over time.
By 2004, Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry had embraced Clinton's economic legacy. Next week, Clinton, who already is appearing in an ad for Obama, gets the main spotlight Wednesday night at the Democratic convention.
Dennis Junius contributed from Washington.
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.