It begins: Jeb Bush endorses Romney

Jeb Bush stayed out of the endorsement business when Republicans went to the polls in Florida this past January, despite rumors that he might endorse Mitt Romney.  Two months later, Bush finally made his decision — and perhaps sent a signal to the rest of the GOP to get in line:

In a statement Bush says, “I am endorsing Mitt Romney for our Party’s nomination.”

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

That ends one of the supposed scenarios for a brokered convention.  Some had figured that the most likely non-candidate to prevail in an open floor fight would either be Jeb Bush or Mitch Daniels.  Bush’s endorsement takes that off the table, and with it any reason to push for a brokered convention to get another candidate onto the ticket.  Bush made sense as a way to carry Florida, a much-needed swing state in the fall, while Daniels has remained consistently hostile to any sort of run, and the GOP should carry Indiana this time.

This endorsement might start a wave of declarations for Romney, as it’s almost certainly a signal from Bush that the nomination race has to finish soon.  There aren’t too many more big endorsements left to get, though, except perhaps for his brother George.  A bigger and more acute question will be whether this could push Romney into the lead in Louisiana.  A win there would all but finish Rick Santorum as a credible threat to Romney’s nomination.  Expect Romney to push the Bush endorsement hard in the next three days and look for a quick exit by both of his competitors.

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