Bombshell: Prominent establishment Republican endorses establishment Republican favorite

This ought to help with all those tea-party voters who think Romney’s too squishy.

Follow the link for his reasoning on Romney; it’s exactly what you’d think it’d be. (And yes, despite his hedging in the piece, it’s an official endorsement.) More interesting is his non-endorsement of Gingrich:

Choosing his words carefully, the former president said he knew Gingrich relatively well. “I’m not his biggest advocate,” he said.

“I had a conflict with him at one point,” Bush recalled, alluding to the crucial moment in 1990 when a recession drove him to renege on his “no new taxes” pledge. He needed a bipartisan group of party leaders, including then-House Whip Gingrich, to stand with him.

“He was there, right outside the Oval Office. I met with all the Republican leaders, all the Democratic leaders,” Bush recalled. “The plan was, we were all going to walk out into the Rose Garden and announce this deal. Newt was right there. Got ready to go out in the Rose Garden, and I said, ‘Where’s Gingrich?’ Went up to Capitol Hill. He was here a minute ago. Went up there and started lobbying against the thing.

“He told me one time later on, he said, ‘This is the most difficult thing I ever had to do.’ I said, ‘I didn’t like it much myself, Newt.’”

Who benefits more here, Romney or Gingrich? Anyone whose vote might turn on a GHWB endorsement is already in Mitt’s corner, I assume, whereas Newt gets a boost from still-undecided base voters being reminded that he walked away from tax hikes 20 years ago even though it meant disappointing a Republican president. Conservatives love that side of him. Might matter when they’re trying to choose a Not Romney from among Gingrich, Perry, and Bachmann.

Here he is last night in New Hampshire with a withering anti-Romney pitch: “Please don’t turn America into Massachusetts.”