Conservatives begin to coalesce around Romney
There is no denying that Mitt Romney has had a very good March, finally pulling away from the rest of the field. He’s also managed to pick up some endorsements from conservatives, including Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT), a Tea Party favorite, and Al Cardenas, president of the American Conservative Union.
But the biggest endorsement Romney has received came on Wednesday from Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), who is a big name in today’s conservative movement and often thought of as possible presidential candidate in 2016:
Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, a Republican superstar expected to top the vice presidential shortlist, on Wednesday said Mitt Romney has “earned’’ the Republican nomination for president and called a potential floor fight at the convention a “recipe for disaster.’‘
In an interview with Fox News host Sean Hannity, Rubio didn’t name Romney rivals Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich but said it was clear to him they would not be able to win enough delegates to lock down the nomination before the Republican convention.
“I think we’re at a stage now where at least two of the candidates have openly admitted that the only way they’re going to be able to win the nomination is to have a floor fight in Tampa in August. I don’t think there’s anything good about that,’’ he said. He added, “It’s increasingly clear that Mitt Romney will be the Republican nominee.’‘
Pressed by Hannity whether he was in fact offering his endorsement, Rubio said yes. But he offered something even better: The rising figure in the conservative and tea party movements vouched for Romney’s conservative credentials.
“I have zero doubt in my mind of two things,’’ Rubio said. “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 is in the White House right now.’‘
Rubio says that President Barack Obama’s recent comments to Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, which were captured on an open mic, prompted him to make the endorsement. Obama asked Medvedev to work with him and that he would have more space to work on issues with Russia if he is re-elected:
In an exclusive interview with The Daily Caller, Sen. Rubio revealed that President Obama’s recent “open mic” gaffe with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev sparked his endorsement of Mitt Romney for president Wednesday night.
“It’s been weighing on my mind all week,” he said.
“I’ve never thought about this as a political calculation,” Rubio said of his endorsement. “I’m just sitting back here and watching a president that just got back from overseas — where he told the Russian president to work with him and give him space so he can be more flexible if he gets re-elected.”
“The stakes are so high. We’re not running against John F. Kennedy here,” he said.
“We have to win this election in November. We have to!” he averred. “If we don’t win this election in November — and we get four more years of Barack Obama — I don’t know what that means … But I know it ain’t good.”
Romney currently leads the field with 565 delegates. Rick Santorum is far behind with 256 delegates. The next few weeks are favorable to the former Massachusetts Governor, who has a lead in Wisconsin ahead of Tuesday’s primary. Polls in Pennsylvania, Santorum’s home state, have also showed Romney bringing the race inside the margin of error. And he has started to pull away in national polling.
Like I pointed out earlier this week, if Santorum doesn’t drop out gracefully in the next few weeks, it could hurt him if he runs in 2016. But given his attitude about the race, showing defiance whenever he can, who knows if that’ll happen.
The writing is on the wall, Romney, while not the “presumptive nominee,” is going to be the Republican standard bearer in 2012. Many conservatives are bothered by that, and that’s understandable. But there are several good fiscally conservative candidates running for House and Senate. If you don’t feel that you can work for Romney, pick a congressional candidate and work for them.