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Santorum Exit Opens Endorsement Floodgate for Romney Santorum Exit Opens Endorsement Floodgate for Romney

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CAMPAIGN 2012

Santorum Exit Opens Endorsement Floodgate for Romney

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Rick Santorum and Pat Toomey(Chet Susslin)

Republican governors and senators rallied around Mitt Romney, with some urging a refocused pitch to independent voters, after former Sen. Rick Santorum suspended his presidential bid on Tuesday.

“Now is the time to get behind Mitt Romney as our presidential nominee so that every corner of the Republican Party is united,” Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina said on Tuesday. “Our party must aggressively pursue the conservative Democrats and independents needed to ensure Barack Obama is a one-term president.”

 

Santorum’s exit sharply reduces the already-dubious value of Republican endorsements for Romney, but also opens the floodgates for lawmakers who were waiting for the nomination contest to effectively end before throwing the former Massachusetts governor their support.

Govs. Terry Branstad of Iowa, Bobby Jindal of Louisiana, and Rick Scott of Florida and Sen. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania endorsed Romney after Santorum's announcement while urging fellow Republicans to get on board.

“It is critical that all Republicans coalesce behind Gov. Romney and focus on electing him as president so he can put the policies in place to create jobs, turn our economy around, and get federal spending under control," Scott said.

 

Jindal, who previously backed Texas Gov. Rick Perry before he dropped out of the race, urged “all Republicans to focus their energies on the fall campaign.”

More endorsements are likely to follow. And senior congressional Republicans such as Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky who declined to officially endorse until a presumptive nominee emerged may now fell free to do so.

McConnell stopped just shy of formally backing Romney on Sunday in one of a few nudges for Santorum and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich to step aside.

“It's absolutely apparent that it's in the best interests of our party at this particular point to get behind the person who is obviously going to be our nominee and to begin to make the case against the president of the United States,” McConnell said on Sunday on CNN.

 

Exactly when an official McConnell endorsement will come is unclear.

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