Though his father has yet to fully end his presidential bid, Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., said on Thursday night that he was supporting Mitt Romney for president.
“Well, you know, my first choice had always been my father,” he said on FNC’s Hannity Thursday night. “He is still my first pick. But now that the nominating process is over, tonight, I am happy to announce, I am supporting Governor Romney.”
The tea party and libertarian leader has been a voice for reduced government in the Senate, and this latest endorsement is one more move by the Republican base to solidify around Romney.
Romney thanked Paul for his support in a statement later Thursday night, saying he was honored to have his backing.
“Senator Paul has been a leading voice in the effort to scale back the size and reach of government and promote liberty,” Romney said. “Over the past three and half years, President Obama has made government more and more of a presence in our lives, and Americans can’t afford four more years of the same failed policies. As President, I will reform the federal government and make it smaller, simpler, and smarter. I am grateful for Senator Paul’s support and look forward to working with him to get America back on the right track.”
Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, said in an email to supporters on Thursday that although he would not clinch the nomination, he was proud with the nearly 200 delegates that his campaign has earned.
"Our Revolution is just getting started," he wrote. "You'll be hearing plenty from me as we approach Tampa and the fall elections."
Paul said last month that he would stop campaign events across the country and instead focus on collecting delegates at state conventions. Paul has reached a threshold in enough states that he could qualify for the ballot at the Republican National Convention. Although he would get knocked out early, it could earn him a coveted speaking slot.