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Posted by on Mar 21, 2012 in Politics | 4 comments

BREAKING: Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush Endorses Mitt Romney for President (UPDATED)

Former Florida Gov Jeb Bush has now endorsed former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney for President — another sign that despite all future Republican primary controversies, future fiery new and old media posts and columns, and even the final delegate count going into the Republican convention, Romney is on track to get the nomination.

In a statement, the former Florida governor congratulated Romney for his primary win in Illinois Tuesday night and called on Republicans to unite behind Romney for the Republican nomination.

“Congratulations to Governor Mitt Romney on his win last night and to all the candidates for a hard fought, thoughtful debate and primary season,” Bush said in the statement.

“Primary elections have been held in thirty-four states, and now is the time for Republicans to unite behind Governor Romney and take our message of fiscal conservatism and job creation to all voters this fall,” he said.

He continued: “I am endorsing Mitt Romney for our Party’s nomination. We face huge challenges, and we need a leader who understands the economy, recognizes more government regulation is not the answer, believes in entrepreneurial capitalism and works to ensure that all Americans have the opportunity to succeed.”

It was already clear the Bush family supports Romney. Former President George HW Bush made his preference for Romney known and his wife Barbara did as well.

Jeb Bush’s endorement carries special weight: he was highly popular Florida Governor and one of a group of people that many GOPers unhappy with the field hoped might swoop in at the last minute, enter the race and save their party from the current unloved crop of declared Republican Presidential wannabes.

This carries some risk for Jeb Bush as well. If Romney crashes and burns in the 2012 election and Bush enters the fray in 2016 more conservative Republicans and Tea Partiers will in effect say they followed Bush’s lead on this before and look what happened.

But the endorsement is highly significant: it’s a formal sign that key members of the party will now start to rally around Romney to so all attention, energy — and campaign funds — can be devoted to undermining and defeating Barack Obama.

The Globe and Mail:

Is the Republican presidential race effectively over?

The question is on plenty of lips in GOP circles following Mitt Romney’s huge win in Tuesday’s Illinois primary. But the answers coming out of people’s mouths varies according to their allegiances, sense of history and mathematical dexterity.

In most primary years, delegate counting becomes a formality. Winning the party nomination is traditionally a momentum game in which victories in key early primaries bring in donations that enable the frontrunner to spend his rivals into oblivion.

What’s more, the role of the party establishment (yes, there is one) in quashing insurgents and designating the heir apparent is on par with the machinations of the Politburo.

And the Wednesday morning endorsement of Mr. Romney by former Florida governor Jeb Bush provides more of the inevitability imprimatur for Mr. Romney and suggests hold-outs among the party establishment are finally signalling they want to see an end to a nomination race that has been damaging to the party’s brand.

The last time the party had a real nomination race on its hands this late into the season was in 1976, when Ronald Reagan was the insurgent candidate challenging then incumbent president Gerald Ford. The fight went all the way to the convention, with Mr. Ford winning the nomination on the first ballot by a mere 117 votes of the 2,257 cast.

Since then, the countless state and national party by-laws that govern the allocation of delegates have changed so often, and become so complicated, it is a mug’s game trying to predict with any accuracy just how many delegates each of this year’s candidates have actually accumulated.

MSNBC’s First Read:

As Bush’s statement indicates, his endorsement comes at a point in the primary where Republicans, following Romney’s win in last night’s Illinois primary by a wide margin, may begin to rally around Romney’s candidacy. A popular figure within the GOP, Bush had been one of the few major Republicans yet to make an endorsement.

Orlando Sentinel blog:

Possibly the biggest voice in Florida Republican politics has spoken out: former Gov. Jeb Bush is endorsing Mitt Romney for president….

….Bush sat out the Jan. 31 Florida Republican primary, easily won by Romney over now disappearing Newt Gingrich. Rick Santorum barely contested Florida and finished a weak third. U.S. Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, did even less in Florida and finished fourth.

That leaves just one big uncommitted figure in Florida politics: U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, who remains mum officially, but who appeared to support Romney over Gingrich in the primary by releasing statements critical of Gingrich and supportive of Romney.

Both Bush and Rubio have been widely speculated as having other interests in the race. A deadlocked Republican National Convention — now unlikely with Romney’s resounding victory in Illinois — could have meant the emergence of a new candidate, and Bush was at or near the top of almost everyone’s wish list. Rubio remains one of the favorite prospects for a vice presidential running mate.

The Hill:

Romney campaign adviser Eric Fehrnstrom first sent the news out over Twitter, and Romney spokeswoman Andrea Saul confirmed the news in an email to The Hill.

The endorsement follows Romney’s big win in Illinois’s primary Tuesday night and adds weight to the argument he is the inevitable Republican nominee…..

Bush was frequently mentioned as a dark-horse candidate to enter the presidential race if voters failed to coalesce behind one of the existing candidates, and he had remained neutral throughout the primary season, even as Romney notched a convincing victory in Florida, Bush’s home state.

The endorsement also builds on the Romney campaign’s momentum from Tuesday’s convincing victory in Illinois, although Rick Santorum is leading in the polls for Saturday’s Louisiana primary.

UPDATE: Chuck Todd on MSNBC just confirms what I wrote above about Bush. He says some big name establishment types in the GOP have been careful when and how they endorse Romney, in case an endorsement of Romney is seen as a liability in the future. If Romney loses, 21st century conservatives (who are different than 20th century conservatives) and Tea Party members will almost certainly say Romney was too moderate.

And Romney’s conservative critics will most likely be concerned by the comments of a Romney advisor who in effect says once he’s nominated Romney can do a do-over in his positions — likening it to an etch a sketch. Romney, he suggest, can deep six some of the things he said to conservatives to woo them and reassure them that he is not really a moderate Republican. Think Progress:

Mitt Romney can’t be held accountable for his extreme right-wing views, at least according to his campaign’s senior adviser, who said the candidate should be given a “reset button” on any positions he’s taken during the primary campaign if he wins the nominations and faces off against President Obama in the fall.

Appearing on CNN this morning, Romney Communications Director Eric Fehrnstrom was asked if he’s concerned that Romney may alienate general election voters with some of the hard-right positions he’s taken during the primary to appeal to conservatives. Fehrnstrom brushed this concern off:

HOST: Is there a concern that Santorum and Gingrich might force the governor to tack so far to the right it would hurt him with moderate voters in the general election.

FEHRNSTROM: Well, I think you hit a reset button for the fall campaign. Everything changes. It’s almost like an Etch A Sketch. You can kind of shake it up and restart all of over again.

The problem for Romney has always been: a)an he move to the center? b)if he moves will he come under fire from more conservative GOPers? c)if he moves too close to the center could he face a problem with conservatives going out to vote on election day? d)if he moves to the center and shows a flip flop from a previous flip flop won’t the Democrats have a field day with it in ads?

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