Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer, a polarizing figure who has become a star among conservative voters for her strict opposition to illegal immigration, Sunday endorsed Mitt Romney for the Republican presidential nomination.
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Brewer’s backing comes as Romney holds a sizeable lead in Arizona two days before the state’s primary. Announcing her endorsement on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Brewer said she was drawn to Romney’s candidacy because of his “pro-business background” and ability to win.
“It was a difficult decision, but I think Mitt by far is the person who can go in and win,” Brewer said. “It’s been an interesting campaign. . . but I think things will settle down and I think after Super Tuesday we’ll have our candidate.”
Brewer, who met with Romney prior to last week’s CNN debate in Mesa, Ariz., said the field included “wonderful people,” but that Romney in particular performed well on the debate stage.
“I think that he handles himself very, very well, but more than that I think that he has that pro-business background and he has that political history that I think that he would serve America the best of all the candidates," Brewer said.
Brewer said she would “work as hard as I know how” to help Romney win in Arizona and elsewhere. She joins an array of Arizona elected officials backing Romney, including Sen. John McCain, the party’s 2008 presidential nominee.
Brewer could be an important voice validating Romney’s avowed conservatism as he continues to struggle to win over the GOP’s more conservative voters.
But with Brewer’s public support, Romney risks aligning himself with her immigration stance, which has made her a polarizing figure nationally and could damage his standing with Hispanic voters in the general election should he become the nominee.
Stephanie Cutter, a deputy campaign manager of President Obama’s reelection effort, tweeted on Saturday night: “Gov. Brewer endorsement tomorrow? Great for Republican primary, damaging to general election. Say goodbye to Hispanic vote.”
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