As Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) hit the campaign trail in Ohio earlier this week, he reflected on the 2008 presidential campaign and said "with some legitimacy, Barack Obama hung the Bush record around my neck."

The Arizona Republican and former presidential candidate made the remarks in a phone interview with the Associated Press on Tuesday.

Ohio is a critical battleground for Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney in his campaign against Barack Obama. Voters in the Buckeye State will also cast ballots in the Senate race between Democratic incumbent Sen. Sherrod Brown and his GOP challenger Josh Mandel.

McCain did not make a definitive statement on whether he believes Romney will come out on top in Ohio, but noted that he sees a path for a Romney victory in the general election that doesn't include winning the swing state.

The longtime senator also addressed the power of the "career politician" label in targeting one's opponents. The AP points out that the criticism has been a key component of Mandel's messaging strategy in his campaign to unseat Brown.

Drawing on his own experience, McCain said that in 2008 he found himself "having to defend President Bush" in addition to his "own vision for America." While he said "all’s fair" and he's "not complaining about it," the GOP senator said, "And on September 15, when the stock market went down 700 points, we went down dramatically as well."

On September 15 in 2008, McCain sent shockwaves through the political spectrum when he said, "The fundamentals of our economy are strong" despite the troubled state of the economic system at the time.

McCain's remarks came ahead of Tuesday night's presidential debate between Obama and Romney. In a stroke of coincidence, the Bush factor came up during the hour and a half event.

HuffPost's Mike McAuliff reports:

One of the undecided voters at the Hofstra debate wasn't sure she was satisfied with President Barack Obama's four years, but she also blamed the policies of the Bush administration for a lot of America's problems.

So Susan Katz wanted to know Romney wouldn't do the same things.

"What is the biggest difference between you and George W. Bush? What differentiates you from George Bush?" Katz asked.

Romney didn't answer at first, preferring to go back to the previous question, but when he did, he didn't offer Katz much.

"President Bush and I are different people and these are different times," Romney told her, before launching into a long series of talking points that had little to do with the differences between Bush and Romney. Romney said they were things Bush never did, such as cracking down on China or making the U.S. energy independent.

Obama has repeatedly hammered Romney for offering the same sorts of economic policies as the Bush administration, including large tax cuts for the wealthy.

Click here for a full recap of Tuesday night's presidential debate.

Loading Slideshow...
  • John Bolton: Secretary Of State

    <strong>Pros:</strong> Awesome mustache capable of manipulating foreign leaders into doing his bidding. <strong>Cons:</strong> The man behind the mustache is actually not a big fan of diplomacy. He also <a href="http://www.salon.com/2011/05/06/bolton_single_issue/">really, really, really</a> wants to <a href="http://mediamatters.org/research/2012/02/29/john-boltons-default-setting-when-in-doubt-bomb/186567">bomb Iran</a>.

  • Ron Paul: Treasury Department Secretary

    <strong>Pros:</strong> Gold is pretty cool. Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) agrees. The Fed could also use an audit. Furthermore, Paul knows that our current drug policy is a drain on the Treasury. <strong>Cons:</strong> Pretty sure an across the board elimination of taxes isn't great policy advice for the president.

  • Allen West: Defense Department Secretary

    <strong>Cons:</strong> The military career of Rep. Allen West (R-Fla.) <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2004/05/27/world/struggle-for-iraq-interrogations-colonel-risked-his-career-menacing-detainee.html?pagewanted=all&src=pm">ended with him being discharged from the Army</a>. The disciplinary action was a result of him overseeing the torture of an Iraqi policeman in an incident that ended with West firing a pistol near the captive's head. But West and the soldiers who helped him conduct the interrogation said it produced information that helped them foil an ambush on their company. <strong>Pros:</strong> Isn't it time we had a Secretary of Defense willing to shoot first and take names later?

  • Rick Perry: Attorney General, Justice Department

    <strong>Pros:</strong> Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R-Texas) knows a thing or two about justice. <strong>Cons:</strong> If by justice you mean being okay with <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/09/07/rick-perry-death-penalty-gop-debate_n_953214.html">executing a ton of people</a>, including some who <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/09/02/cameron-todd-willingham-execution-rick-perry_n_946654.html">were innocent</a>.

  • Sarah Palin: Interior Department Secretary

    <strong>Pros:</strong> The former GOP Alaska governor could condense management of the nation's public lands and conservation efforts into catchy three-word slogans. "Drill, baby, drill," "log, baby, log," etc. <strong>Cons:</strong> We can't think of any.

  • Michelle Obama: Agriculture Department Secretary

    <strong>Pros:</strong> Organic spinach for everyone. <strong>Cons:</strong> Organic spinach for everyone.

  • Herman Cain: Commerce Department Secretary

    <strong>Pros:</strong> Plans for job growth that hinge entirely upon the number "9." <strong>Cons:</strong> <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/10/13/herman-cain-999-sim-city_n_1008952.html">Plans ripped from "Sim City"</a> probably aren't good models for the real world.

  • Scott Walker: Labor Department Secretary

    <strong>Pros:</strong> Gov. Scott Walker (R-Wis.) is currently organized labor's biggest nemesis. <strong>Cons:</strong> This could <a href="http://www.theblaze.com/stories/romneys-possible-cabinet-part-iii-education-health-and-human-services-and-labor/">actually happen</a>.

  • Todd Akin: Health And Human Services Department Secretary

    <strong>Pros:</strong> Rep. Todd Akin (R-Mo.) would address the numerous injustices currently at issue in the field of women's rights. For example, why is it so easy for women to find access to birth control and abortions, <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/10/02/todd-akin-abortion-providers_n_1934305.html">even when they're not pregnant</a>? Why is it so simple for them to report <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/08/19/todd-akin-abortion-legitimate-rape_n_1807381.html">"legitimate rapes"</a>? These concerns must be dealt with. <strong>Cons:</strong> You think there's a "war on women" now? You ain't seen nothing yet.

  • Donald Trump: Housing And Urban Development Department Secretary

    <strong>Pros:</strong> Low-income housing is unsightly -- casinos and luxury apartments would spruce up economically depressed urban areas nicely. <strong>Cons:</strong> HUD <a href="http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/donald-trump-filed-bankruptcy-times/story?id=13419250#.UHQaRfnuWXc">can't file for bankruptcy</a>. Trump also has a <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/04/29/donald-trump-blacks-lawsuit_n_855553.html">controversial history</a> with a large percentage of people who actually live in urban housing.

  • Steve King: Transportation Department Secretary

    <strong>Pros:</strong> <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/09/21/steve-king-nanny-state-sp_n_1903957.html">"Nanny state" speed limits</a> are lame and should be repealed. Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) could help make this happen. <strong>Cons:</strong> Never wanting to drive on the highway again.

  • David Koch: Energy Department Secretary

    <strong>Pros:</strong> The man has overseen energy companies that have produced billions in profits for his family and others. <strong>Cons:</strong> Invest in renewable resources for energy? But there's more oil in them thar hills!

  • Rick Santorum: Education Department Secretary

    Pros: Former presidential candidate Rick Santorum knows the essential problems facing learning institutions. Too many of them are <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/02/24/rick-santorum-obama-college-plan-indoctrination-_n_1299403.html">liberal indoctrination mills</a> that turn students into <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/02/25/rick-santorum-obama-snob-college_n_1301854.html">snobs</a>. Cons: Kids might Google the education secretary. You'll also understand how Santorum feels now when he alters the Department of Education so drastically that you end up being forced to homeschool your kids.

  • Joe Walsh: Veterans Affairs Department Secretary

    <strong>Pros:</strong> Rep. Joe Walsh (R-Ill.) might not have ever served in the military, but he knows and cares about the concerns of veterans. <strong>Cons:</strong> His primary concern is that <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/03/joe-walsh-tammy-duckworth_n_1646793.html">they talk too much</a> about their service and expect to be treated as heroes.

  • Jan Brewer: Homeland Security Department Secretary

    <strong>Pros:</strong> Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer (R) is one of the GOP's leading voices on keeping our nation safe from supposed threats by non-Americans. <strong>Cons:</strong> Building a fence that spans the entire southern border and deporting all of the people who "look like" undocumented immigrants will not keep the homeland secure.

  • James Inhofe: Environmental Protection Agency Administrator

    <strong>Pros:</strong> Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) would be a noble steward of the environment, working tirelessly to ensure it is adequately protected. <strong>Cons:</strong> "Adequately" doesn't mean to Inhofe what it does to most people. Prepare to see him <a href="http://www.newsmax.com/InsideCover/Inhofe-Family-Igloo-Gores/2010/02/10/id/349514">laughing maniacally when it snows</a> and running an unnecessarily inefficient coal-powered AC unit when it gets too hot.

  • Chris Christie: Press Secretary

    <strong>Pros:</strong> More entertaining White House press briefings. <strong>Cons:</strong> Broken-willed Washington journalists would be sent home crying on a daily basis after being berated for asking "idiot" questions. Wait -- maybe there are no cons after all.

  • Michele Bachmann: National Security Advisor

    <strong>Pros:</strong> No national security concern is too outlandish or seemingly inconsequential for Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.). <strong>Cons:</strong> Given her days on a kibbutz and her former Swiss citizenship, is she a secret communist infiltrator?

  • Glenn Beck: Fed Chairman

    <strong>Pros:</strong> It's so crazy, it might just work. <strong>Cons:</strong> It wouldn't work.

  • Newt Gingrich: NASA Administrator

    <strong>Pros:</strong> It would be difficult to find someone more genuinely interested in the concept of expanding U.S. interests in <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/01/27/newt-gingrich-space-moon_n_1234832.html">space travel and colonization</a>. Cons: Gingrich might find it difficult to split time between heading up NASA and <a href="http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/OTUS/newt-gingrich-bowing-gop-race-355-days-zoo/story?id=16221199">visiting the zoo</a>. This could lead to some strange projects involving sending animals to space. Maybe some sort of space zoo? Wait, that belongs in the "pro" section.