Tea Party favorite Mike Lee endorses Romney

posted at 2:30 pm on March 26, 2012 by Ed Morrissey

Call it the halftime push for closing up the Republican primaries.  With the next primaries eight days away, prominent Republicans and conservatives endorsed Mitt Romney over the last 24 hours.  Most prominent among them was Senator Mike Lee, who rallied grassroots Tea Party support in Utah two years ago to give then-incumbent Bob Bennett the boot:

Washington • Conservatives will start flocking to presidential candidate Mitt Romney, Sen. Mike Lee predicted Sunday as he offered his endorsement to the man he believes will be the best Republican to take on President Barack Obama.

“This is a pretty critical year,” Lee said in an interview. “There are big decisions for the country to make and … I think we would be well-advised as Republicans to start getting behind our eventual nominee.”

Lee, the last of Utah’s Republicans in Congress to formally endorse Romney, said the time has come for conservatives to rally behind the former Massachusetts governor and start creating the national effort to oust Obama.

Romney figures to be a very popular figure in Utah anyway, and not just because of his Mormon religion.  Romney built a lot of goodwill and support for his role in rescuing the Salt Lake City Olympics from financial disaster, and people in Utah have not forgotten it.  Lee’s endorsement could be considered a move to keep up with constituent opinions, but also could be a game changer among Tea Party activists.  Lee won his Senate seat through their efforts, and his late endorsement might convince the grassroots to start throwing in with the current frontrunner in the race.

Carly Fiorina was less successful in her own Senate bid in 2010, and is considered to be more of a Republican party moderate, so her endorsement probably won’t carry as much impact:

Carly Fiorina, a former chief executive officer of Hewlett-Packard Co. (HPQ), endorsed Mitt Romney for the Republican presidential nomination today, describing the former Massachusetts governor as the candidate best able to beat President Barack Obama in November.

“While I also admire his opponents, it is now clear that Mitt Romney is the candidate most able to defeat Barack Obama in November,” Fiorina said in a statement. “This election is too important to lose and that’s why I urge my fellow Republicans to join me in supporting Mitt Romney.”

Among conservatives, American Conservative Union chair Al Cardenas might have more impact.  He also endorsed Romney today:

As of today, it is clear neither Senator Santorum nor Speaker Gingrich nor Congressman Paul can amass the majority of delegates required to be the Republican nominee. Their only paths to victory feature a contested, anarchic floor fight just weeks before Americans vote on whether or not to give President Obama a second term.

With all due respect to my fellow conservative leaders determined to oppose Governor Romney, that is not a worthy endeavor. For the sake of our Republic, I’m not willing to wait until the Republican National Convention to sort this out. It’s time to unite behind a worthy presidential candidate, build our organization and raise the resources necessary to defeat the liberal electoral machine. …

Governor Romney is an honorable, worthy, competent, conservative candidate for our next commander-in-chief. I’m proud to support his campaign for president. His opponents ran great races and all four men became better candidates because of the effort. I thank and congratulate them all on their contributions to the race, but their time is over.

I’m calling on my fellow conservatives, for goals both lofty and pragmatic, to join me in supporting the only candidate that can ensure President Obama’s legacy is limited to just four years of fiscal irresponsibility and disregard for our Constitution, and not eight.

House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy concurs:

In his statement, McCarthy said Republicans “need to unite” around a candidate Romney.

“After a long and grueling primary, it is clear that Mitt Romney is the best candidate to face President Obama and fix the mess of his one and only term,” McCarthy said.

Every primary fight hits a tipping point in which voters start climbing onto the bandwagon of the frontrunner.  Clearly, a spectrum of Republican leaders want to push that tipping point up as soon as possible.  The question will be whether voters will listen.  However, thanks to the primary schedule, Santorum is very vulnerable to a tipping-point scenario in April.  Only two states give him a solid chance for victories next month, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, and a loss in either (or both, especially with Pennsylvania being Santorum’s home state) could force that tipping point, even though May’s schedule is a lot more friendly to Santorum.

Look for even more prominent figures to announce endorsements this week, but I doubt they will have any immediate impact.  The GOP wants to bring this to an end as quickly as possible, but it’s not likely that Santorum will get out without contesting at least a few more of these states.  Only if Santorum can’t win in Wisconsin and Pennsylvania will he be inclined to withdraw.


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Guess you misunderstood. You actually have to get conservatives to vote for you in the Primaries and have them believe you to be the conservative choice. On that Mitt is running last.

No one considers Mitt to actually be conservative and in this case perception is all that matters.

You might think he’s running dead last but he has more delegates than the others combined. He’s won primaries in red states, blue states, and swing states. That’s exactly the type of candidate we need since all the reliable red states will vote for Romney and Romney will at least make Obama spend states in some states that they wouldn’t have to with Santorum or Newt.

You did not even answer the first question. How can Mitt win when no one else ever has without wining his home state? Mass voters know Mitt the best and they hate him by 2 to 1 almost.

Steveangell on March 26, 2012 at 8:37 PM

Ah but I did. You just didn’t want to accept it for what it was. All these contrived metrics mean nothing. When was the last time a Republican was nominated without winning SC? You see how that works? Because Newt is surely going to get the nomination, right? What does mean something is that Romney doesn’t need to win MA to win the election. The fact that he can win without winning his home state actually is evidence that maybe Obama will have to spend more in some states than he wouldn’t have to if he were to go up against Santorum or Newt. I mean let’s face it…if Romney wins MA, Obama isn’t going to win any state except Illinois.

GOPRanknFile on March 26, 2012 at 8:47 PM

As are many of the claims about Santorum, in Romney’s campaign ads.

I’m told that’s just “politics,” though.

Oh wait! Silly me! I forgot that Santorum’s just a whiny bigot sweater vest wearing bigot whiny contraception hating bigot whiny gay sex banning bigot whiny-pants theocrat who thinks Obama is better than Romney.

JannyMae on March 26, 2012 at 8:38 PM

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not defending all the claims made by the Romney camp. In politics, there are going to be a lot of misrepresentations, fudging, and just straight up lies, and the Romney campaign is definitely guilty of this as well. I was just responding to claims made by another commenter.

And I know you’re not intending this for me, but I don’t think Santorum is a bigot or any of those other things you indicated. I’ve always said that I think he’s a good, honorable, decent man for whom I would gladly cast my vote in the general if he were to get the nomination. He just happens to be my second choice in the primary.

GOPRanknFile on March 26, 2012 at 8:51 PM

You Republican loyalists keep being played for the fool. Stop supporting a party and start supporting the Constitution.

Dante on March 26, 2012 at 9:07 PM

It’s over, and it is time for Newt, Rick, and their supporters to admit it. IF their real objective is getting rid of Obama, that is.

If they want to try to ruin Romney’s chances to give themselves another shot in 2016, they could stay in. Probably some of their supporters are loyal enough to go along with such a crass calculation at the nation’s expense.

I suspect most of us are already close to the point where neither Gingrich nor Santorum will be given any future consideration anyway.

Adjoran on March 26, 2012 at 9:13 PM

You Republican loyalists keep being played for the fool. Stop supporting a party and start supporting the Constitution.

Dante on March 26, 2012 at 9:07 PM

If the Constitution is on the Presidential ballot, I promise to vote for it.

Adjoran on March 26, 2012 at 9:14 PM

Do you take the same approach to college basketball?

Shoud Ohio St., Kansas, and Louisville all quit because Kentucky is the only #1 seed in the Final Four?

No! You play the Final Four out and see who wins. You don’t crown the chapion until then.

ITguy on March 26, 2012 at 3:39 PM

The only way this would be analogous would be if were somehow impossible for the other 3 to actually win the championship, say for example if they were barred from the title by NCAA sanctions or something. As it stands now, any four or the contenders can win the tournament, where the same could not be said for the primary.

Dead Hand Control on March 26, 2012 at 3:50 PM

Wrong. There are more delegates yet to be assigned than are necessary to win the nomination outright. It is improbable, but not “impossible” for someone other than Romney to reach a majority of delegates.

Let’s take it a step further, though, to contemplate the brokered convention. Say that the eventual winner somehow gets disqualified. In the primary, Romney could be “disqualified” at the convention by not having enough delegates. By that logic, though, all of the other contenders should be dq’d as well, as they garnered significantly fewer delegates. In that event, should the winner of the basketball tournament be a team that didn’t even compete?

At a brokered convention, it is no guarantee that the plurality recipient will become the majority recipient. If the third place recipient decides that they would rather see the second place recipient win than the first place recipient, their support of the 2nd place recipient could propel them to the majority. That is exactly what happened in West Virginia in 2008, when McCain (3rd place in first round) chose to have his supporters support Huckabee(2nd place in first round) over Romney (1st place in first round, but only a plurality, not a majority in first round). In the second round of caucus voting, Huckabee (with McCain’s supporters) > Romney. The same thing could happen at a brokered convention. Plus, who’s to say that the first place plurality in a brokered convention couldn’t be Santorum, rather than Romney?

Santorum doesn’t have to clinch the nomination before the convention. All he has to do is keep Romney from clinching.

What I really suspect may happen is that the level of animosity between Paul, Santorum, Romney, and Gingrich may be so high that none of them end up with a majority of delegates… FORCING the nomination of someone outside of those 4. My pick would be Huckabee/Palin.

But I’d settle for Santorum/Gingrich.

ITguy on March 26, 2012 at 10:13 PM

GOPRanknFile on March 26, 2012 at 8:51 PM

You sound quite reasonable. I didn’t intend to lump you in with all the a-hole Romney supporters, who are many, so my apologies if you thought that.

My point stands for the Romney-bots who criticize his opponents endlessly and close their eyes to his faults. You know who you are, even if you won’t admit it.

JannyMae on March 26, 2012 at 10:22 PM

You Republican loyalists keep being played for the fool. Stop supporting a party and start supporting the Constitution.

Dante on March 26, 2012 at 9:07 PM

That’s a wonderful concept, supporting the constitution.

Unfortunately, your idea of doing that is not a viable option, because the candidate you support is a senile, old fool, who thinks we can make friends with jihadists, and, apparently, based on the idiocy that you link to, you do too.

JannyMae on March 26, 2012 at 10:27 PM

I’d settle for anyone who supports the Constitution. Even a senile old fool.

voiceofreason on March 26, 2012 at 11:21 PM

Gunlock Bill on March 26, 2012 at 6:07 PM

A WillardBot who has named himself after one of the most fascistic vehicles of gun control ever devised…

There’s a connection here, I’m sure of it.

Dunedainn on March 27, 2012 at 12:44 AM

Some people you just can’t reach.

FlaMurph on March 26, 2012 at 5:30 PM

Like WillardBots?

Dunedainn on March 27, 2012 at 12:46 AM

Good job Senator Lee, now more will join you. The major Tea Party group Freedom Works is friendly towards Romney as well.

scotash on March 27, 2012 at 1:32 AM

Good job Senator Lee, now more will join you. The major Tea Party group Freedom Works is friendly towards Romney as well.

scotash on March 27, 2012 at 1:32 AM

The polls are really turning against Mitt in the South against Obama. He is behind in several States. Obama could well beat Mitt in Florida and Virginia for example.

Mitt is mostly running as being the most electable. If he goes all the way to the convention that argument is toast.

But the biggest problem for Mitt is history. History is absolutely against Mitt. Not a single nominee has ever won the general unless they were conservative on Fiscal, foreign and Social. Mitt is moderate. History gives Mitt no chance of winning the election and polling is showing he will lose the swing and southern states even now. Poling 36% to Obama 60 in his home State is horrible. No President lost his home state.

Steveangell on March 27, 2012 at 2:08 AM

Poling 36% to Obama 60 in his home State is horrible. No President lost his home state.

Steveangell on March 27, 2012 at 2:08 AM

WRONG. Polk, Wilson, and Nixon all won despite losing their state of residence. This is the third time I’ve had to rebut this on Hotair, can’t you guys at least google before you spout this crap?

almosthandsome on March 27, 2012 at 2:32 AM

People act as if the delegate math is undecided simply because half the delegates remain to be chosen. But you have to look at the where and the how. Romney has double digit leads in WI, NY, RI, CT, Santorum a double digit lead in PA and NC. No polling has been done in MD or DE, Romney is thought to be ahead and Santorum didn’t even try to make the DC ballot.

It’s hard to see how Santorum makes up enough ground to keep Romney from a majority, unless you assume Romney will be caught in bed, as LA Governor Edwards used to say the only way he could lose, “with a dead girl or a live boy.”

In the real world, wishing does not make it so.

Adjoran on March 27, 2012 at 4:56 AM

Barry Goldwater’s ghost endorsed Willard Romney today…

Like I give a rats behind!

It can never be said that any American is incapable of making a mistake!

I believe suicidal people should be given room to act, I just want to make sure to be out of the room when the trigger is pulled.

PS-Let me know how that works out for you.

insidiator on March 27, 2012 at 7:44 AM

If the Constitution is on the Presidential ballot, I promise to vote for it.

Adjoran on March 26, 2012 at 9:14 PM

Are you supporting Ron Paul?

Dante on March 27, 2012 at 9:07 AM

A WillardBot who has named himself after one of the most fascistic vehicles of gun control ever devised

There’s a connection here, I’m sure of it.

Dunedainn on March 27, 2012 at 12:44 AM

Your foil hat has failed you. Perhaps it is time to get you a new one.

Gunlock Bill on March 27, 2012 at 10:14 AM

To heck I did.

I vote April 3′rd.

Steveangell on March 26, 2012 at 6:10 PM

Hey, stupid! I wasn’t talking to you.

Gunlock Bill on March 27, 2012 at 10:18 AM

You seem to believe a Man who BLAH BLAH BLAH

Steveangell on March 26, 2012 at 6:17 PM

And you believe a man who tells falsehoods daily.

Gunlock Bill on March 27, 2012 at 10:20 AM

Oh wait! Silly me! I forgot that Santorum’s just a whiny bigot sweater vest wearing bigot whiny contraception hating bigot whiny gay sex banning bigot whiny-pants theocrat who thinks Obama is better than Romney.

JannyMae on March 26, 2012 at 8:38 PM

And how is that working out for him?

Gunlock Bill on March 27, 2012 at 10:31 AM

Like WillardBots?

Dunedainn on March 27, 2012 at 12:46 AM

Nah, like ABRtards.

Gunlock Bill on March 27, 2012 at 10:33 AM

My point stands for the Romney-bots who criticize his opponents endlessly and close their eyes to his faults. You know who you are, even if you won’t admit it.

JannyMae on March 26, 2012 at 10:22 PM

He has his faults for sure. But they are fewer and less offensive than the faults of his opponents.

Else, he wouldn’t be winning.

Gunlock Bill on March 27, 2012 at 10:36 AM

I suspect most of us are already close to the point where neither Gingrich nor Santorum will be given any future consideration anyway.

Adjoran on March 26, 2012 at 9:13 PM

Then you know exactly how those of us who have been called unspeakable names by Romney’s shock troops feel. We have been personally attacked, our favored and even unfavored candidates, have been personally slashed and burned by a candidate whose entire modus operendi is a carbon copy of leftist water carriers. Romney hates conservatives, Christians, Catholics, Southerners and anyone who questions his liberal agenda and record. You think being destroyed by a leftist is bad? At least they’re on the other side of the battle field. Romeny has his personal guard turning his guns on people who up until now constituted the Republican base. We’re no longer welcome in the Republican Party.

Portia46 on March 27, 2012 at 11:16 AM

Romney couldn’t govern competently even if he won, which is quite a longshot because he either stands for nothing or for everything, depending on how you look at his record and his comments.

I (foolishly) voted for GHWB in 1992, for Bob Dole, for GWB in 2004 and for John McCain (my least favorite Senator) in 2008.

The RNC/GOP has left me long ago and I’m not voting for their garbage candidates any more.

And when Obama trounces Mitt in November, it won’t be the fault of the disaffected former Republicans who declined to participate in their former party’s self-immolation.

It will be the fault of that party’s running third tier candidates who are nothing more than deal-cutting political hacks.

So forgive me if I don’t cast my lots with Karl Rove, the guy who left the party in such fine shape in 2006 and 2008, this year.

molonlabe28 on March 27, 2012 at 11:26 AM

So the former Tea Party takes a break from protesting big government and socialized medicine to endorse big government and socialized medicine. Conservatives have no representation in this country.

Crusty on March 27, 2012 at 11:28 AM

Do you take the same approach to college basketball?

Shoud Ohio St., Kansas, and Louisville all quit because Kentucky is the only #1 seed in the Final Four?

No! You play the Final Four out and see who wins. You don’t crown the chapion until then.

ITguy on March 26, 2012 at 3:39 PM

The only way this would be analogous would be if were somehow impossible for the other 3 to actually win the championship, say for example if they were barred from the title by NCAA sanctions or something. As it stands now, any four or the contenders can win the tournament, where the same could not be said for the primary.

Dead Hand Control on March 26, 2012 at 3:50 PM

More like a motorsport championship series topped by skating championship judges scoring.

The bound delegates are the motorsport points and superdelegates are the skating judges.

If Romney wins 1144 bound delegates outright, game over. But if he comes up short, anything can happen. It all depends the sum of delegate’s preferences. What if after the 1st round, the delegates cast their preference to a 3 way tie between Mitt, Perry & Sarah? The free-for-all caucusing and horse trading will go on until a deal is reached. So here’s a question for you. Do you know where the loyalities lie for the delegate(s) representing your primary vote? Are they Paulians, Mittbots, Nistas, Krishnas?

Stopping Mitt from getting 1144 and the ensuing chaos will make for fun times, wailing/gnashing of teeth and represent the final chance for the GOP to pull back from the brink and nominate a more conservative candidate. Preferably, more conservative than any of the current runners.

AH_C on March 27, 2012 at 1:20 PM

So forgive me if I don’t cast my lots with Karl Rove, the guy who left the party in such fine shape in 2006 and 2008, this year.

molonlabe28 on March 27, 2012 at 11:26 AM

Ditto.

AH_C on March 27, 2012 at 1:34 PM

The Reagan in Romney
Mitt’s tough conservative positions.
By Larry Kudlow, NRO
, 23 MAR ’12 (speaking as the “Repo Men”)
Bill Buckley’s “Electability” Law applies to Mitt Romney today. Because Bill Buckley said so, and so does Larry Kudlow. It worked with McCain’s ’08 ticket. Oops. “A conservative alternative to Romney is Romney.” Ah yes, the fallacy of circularity (not to mention the tarnished source). For instance, the following “definition” of recursion is “Recursion”. Go Convoluted ’12! Circularity is winnable given a monkey and/or weasel.

maverick muse on March 27, 2012 at 5:25 PM

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