Boehner endorses Romney as donors consolidate

Is the Republican nomination race over?  Newt Gingrich says no, but practically everyone else says yes.  That now includes the man currently holding Gingrich’s old job as House Speaker, who formally endorsed Mitt Romney for the nomination today:

House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) on Tuesday endorsed Mitt Romney as the Republican presidential nominee, becoming one of the last party leaders to officially recognize the former Massachusetts governor as the GOP standard-bearer. …

“It’s clear now that Mitt Romney is going to be our nominee,” the Speaker told reporters after a House GOP conference meeting. “I think Mitt Romney has a set of economic policies that can put Americans back to work and contrast sharply with the failed economic policies of President Obama. And I will be proud to support Mitt Romney and do everything I can to help him win.”

A little too establishment-y for your taste?  WMAL and the Daily Caller both talked with Tea Party favorite and conservative activist Herman Cain, who endorsed Gingrich after withdrawing from the race in December.  Cain told the WMAL crew that it was time for Gingrich to acknowledge reality:

But on Monday Cain walked back his endorsement of Gingrich saying, “With all due respect, let’s get on with this, OK?”

“I even endorsed Newt Gingrich at one point because I thought that he had a shot. Well, not now. He doesn’t have a shot,” Cain said to Washington radio station WMAL.

A former Cain staffer told ABC News that Cain’s call for Gingrich to bow out isn’t surprising.

“He likes to go with his gut. Mr. Cain walked up to line of joining the establishment without crossing it,” the former Cain staffer said.

Cain softened a little by the time he spoke with the Daily Caller, but the message was about the same:

Former presidential candidate Herman Cain told The Daily Caller that he doesn’t know why former House Speaker Newt Gingrich is still in the Republican presidential race and doesn’t “know what’s going on in his head.”

“Everybody knows that Speaker Gingrich is not going to get the nomination, probably,” Cain explained. “It would have to take an absolute long-shot mix-up of everything that would happen at the convention. I don’t know what’s going on in his head, so I can’t comment.”

“I know that when I had to make the decision to drop out of the race, it was more difficult than making the decision to get in the race,” he continued.

Cain wants to get on with the election, but the big-ticket donors are already ahead of him.  Politico reports on the consolidation among some of the people who funded super-PACs for the GOP candidates while the fight was still on:

The super PAC mega-donors who dragged out the GOP primary are getting behind the establishment, rather than continuing to back rogue candidates and causes — as some in the Republican Party feared.

Donors like Sheldon Adelson and Foster Friess, who gave millions to anti-establishment presidential primary campaigns, are starting to fall in line — promising to support Mitt Romney and cutting checks to groups fighting for congressional Republicans.

Casino mogul Adelson and his wife, Miriam, who donated more than $15 million to a super PAC supporting Newt Gingrich’s presidential campaign, gave $5 million to a super PAC linked to House Speaker John Boehner in February — according to newly released filings. And Adelson is hosting a fundraiser next Friday at one of his Las Vegas hotels for a Boehner umbrella group that works closely with the Republican National Committee and the National Republican Congressional Committee, POLITICO has learned.

Last week, Friess, a Wyoming investor who donated $1.7 million to super PACs backing Rick Santorum’s since-aborted presidential campaign, told POLITICO he intended to support third-party groups backing Romney.

And even supporters of Texas Gov. Rick Perry, like homebuilder Bob Perry and investors Harold Simmons and Harlan Crow, are giving six- and seven-figure donations to super PACs backing Romney and establishment Republican candidates.

I think the “fear” in this case was that Romney wouldn’t be able to unite the party after winning the nomination, not that he would.  Adelson made no bones about his willingness to get behind Romney as far back as January, if Gingrich’s campaign didn’t work out.  The issue now isn’t whether Romney makes the best candidate to challenge Obama; that fight is over, and Romney won it.  The issue now is beating Barack Obama, taking the Senate, and keeping control of the House.  The issues of “establishment” versus “grassroots” still might apply in primaries for Senate and House races, but no longer in the presidential race.

Will Gingrich accept reality and shift his focus to issues and conservative Congressional candidates, as Rick Santorum seems ready to do?  The longer he waits to do so, the more his credibility and impact will diminish.  He doesn’t need to endorse Romney for that to happen; he just needs to acknowledge that he has lost his bid, and that it’s time to put his considerable talent to use more productively.  As Herman Cain says, Gingrich should “get on with this.”

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