Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney has tapped Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), a veteran lawmaker and onetime House leader, to spearhead his efforts to win support from Republican senators and House members.
Blunt’s endorsement and new position as Romney’s top congressional liaison was announced Tuesday morning. Blunt is reprising a role he played for George W. Bush’s campaign in 2000, where he helped Bush secure endorsements on Capitol Hill and secure the GOP nomination.
“Our nation faces historic challenges today, and under President Obama’s policies, we’ve witnessed high unemployment, skyrocketing debt, out-of-control spending, and burdensome regulations that have stifled job creation,” Blunt said in a statement issued by the Romney campaign. “Through his experience in the private sector and as governor, I believe Mitt has the right background to help create more economic certainty and spur job growth in Missouri and nationwide, and that’s why I’m proud to lead his congressional team.”
Romney’s campaign has won more endorsements from lawmakers than any other candidate, including Texas Gov. Rick Perry, but a vast majority of Republican senators and House members remain neutral in the race. Blunt, who is well regarded among leaders in both chambers, will help coax lawmakers off the fence and into the Romney camp. Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.), who played a similar role for Romney in his 2008 presidential campaign, has not endorsed a candidate yet.
In 2008, Blunt remained neutral in the race until it was clear that Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) would be the party’s nominee, and then endorsed him.
Romney’s advisers have said they are targeting newer lawmakers, in particular freshmen from the Class of 2010. Blunt was a longtime House member, where he served in leadership as Republican whip, before winning his Senate seat in 2010. Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), who is supporting his father, Rep. Ron Paul (R-Tex.), is the only other freshman senator who has endorsed in the race.
“It is an honor to have Roy’s support,” Romney said in a statement. “He has always been a champion of taxpayers and small business owners, and I know that he will be an effective liaison in sharing my vision for America with his colleagues in both the House and the Senate. I look forward to working with Roy as I bring my plan for job creation to Missouri and the rest of the country.”
News of Blunt’s role was first reported Tuesday morning by Politico’s “Playbook.”