St. Petersburg, Florida (CNN) - The day after former President George W. Bush gave him an impromptu endorsement, presumptive GOP nominee Mitt Romney pointedly avoided naming his new supporter in a Wednesday speech.
Instead, Romney referred to Bush five times as a "predecessor" to President Barack Obama.
– Follow the Ticker on Twitter: @PoliticalTicker
– Follow Rachel Streitfeld on Twitter: @streitfeldcnn
"[Obama] was very critical of his predecessor for the debts his predecessor put in place," Romney told a St. Petersburg audience Wednesday.
Seconds later, he reiterated: "[Obama] was very critical of his predecessor because the predecessor put together $4 trillion of debt over eight years."
Romney went on to criticize Obama for adding to the nation's ballooning debt – some $5 trillion since he took office.
ABC News tossed Bush a question about Romney Tuesday, and the former president replied that he was backing Romney.
In response, Romney's campaign - which usually emails reporters touting big-name endorsements - responded to questions with a pithy statement.
"We welcome the president's support, as we welcomed his father's," spokeswoman Andrea Saul said.
– CNN National Political Correspondent Jim Acosta contributed to this report.