“It’s increasingly clear that Mitt Romney’s gonna be the Republican nominee,” Rubio said. “We’ve got to come together behind who I think has earned this nomination and that’s Mitt Romney.”
Rubio added: “I have zero doubt in my mind of two things: No. 1, that Mitt Romney will govern as a conservative, and No. 2, that he will be head and shoulders better than the guy who’s in the White House now.”
Romney tweeted following Rubio’s appearance: “Ann joins me in thanking @MarcoRubio for the confidence he is placing in my leadership and for the great honor he has done me today.”
Our bloggers weighed in Thursday morning to analyze one of the most sought-after endorsements of the campaign season. Jennifer Rubin of Right Turn wrote that what Rubio said in his endorsement was as important as the endorsement itself.
A floor fight at the convention would be a “disaster” for the Republicans, he argued. He bluntly stated that the Rick Santorum scheme to take this to the convention would be “a recipe for delivering four more years of Barack Obama.” He added that, after all, Romney has ”earned” the nomination (by garnering a large majority of votes to date).
Moreover, the sense of finality he projected sent the unmistakable signal to the conservative base that the primary race is over. (“It’s evidently increasingly clear that Mitt Romney’s going to be the nominee.”) And he brushed aside the notion that Romney offered an insufficient contrast to President Obama.
It was a solid, on-message appearance. It will no doubt restart the buzz his VP chances.
The drumbeat continues to wrap up the primary. What is the point of prolonging the race — to feed Santorum’s ego or to maximize the GOP’s chances in November? More Republicans, including voters who ultimately control the process, are likely to agree with Rubio and grow impatient with Santorum’s refusal to accept reality.
Chris Cillizza wrote in the Fix that Rubio’s endorsement accelerated the momentum behind Romney’s candidacy, which other big names have also fueled in recent days.
In just the last 9 days — since Romney won the Illinois primary — he has been endorsed by former Florida governor Jeb Bush and former President George H.W. Bush while leading tea party Senator Jim DeMint has said kind things about him and Freedomworks, a tea-party aligned group, has dropped its opposition to him as the nominee.
Add Rubio’s support into that mix and it’s clear that the slew of endorsements for Romney in recent days have done something for the Massachusetts governor that winning primaries had not: Make clear he is the Republican presidential nominee.
Think about it. Romney’s victories in Florida, Michigan, Ohio and Illinois all came after polling suggesting he was either trailing or tied with former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum or former House Speaker Newt Gingrich.
Romney’s come-from-behind victories in each state did little to rally the activist base of the party behind him despite the fact that with each win he was building a delegate edge over his rivals that made him insurmountable — or close to it.
After each victory, Romney and his political team would plead their case to reporters; You said he needed to win, he won, they would argue. What more does he need to do?
But, it never worked. Until the Bushes, Rubio and DeMint stepped in, that is. The diverse elements of the GOP came together in that quartet of endorsements — DeMint and Rubio from the tea party wing, the Bushes from the establishment wing — to make clear to anyone who still had doubts that while it had been a good race, the race was now over.