In what is perhaps a sign that some in the GOP establishment are growing wary off the drawn-out Republican presidential primary and are ready to rally around a frontrunner, former Florida governor Jeb Bush broke his neutral stance this morning and officially endorsed Mitt Romney.
"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,'' Bush said in a written statement this morning.
Romney is coming off a decisive victory last night in the Illinois primary. Thanks to Chicago, it's a blue state, but its GOP voters in the rural and suburban areas tend to resemble those of its Midwest neighbors. His lead in national polls over Rick Santorum has been held to single digits, but his lead in delegate projections is around 300.
Bush had remained relatively quiet throughout the primary and even refused to endorse a candidate before Florida's primary election.
Bush appeared critical of the GOP field back in February when he told a crowd: "It's a little troubling sometimes when people are appealing to people's fears and emotion rather than trying to get them to look over the horizon for a broader perspective.
"I think it's important for the candidates to recognize they have to appeal to primary voters and not turn off independent voters that will be part of a winning coalition," he added later.
If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.
SHOW ME HOW
You have successfully signed up for your selected newsletter(s) - please keep an eye on your mailbox, we're movin' in!
Apparently he thinks Romney is the man to do just that.
Bush himself had been talked about as a potential 2012 candidate, and some observers even envisioned him jumping into the contest at the last minute. However, the former guv has said time and time again that he won't run this year. He has, however, opened the door to a presidential campaign in future elections.