HARRISBURG, Pa.--Sen. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, who has said he won't endorse anyone in the Republican presidential race, on Friday praised front-runner Mitt Romney as a true conservative whom Republicans can trust as their nominee.
“I think Mitt Romney is a conservative, and I think if elected, he’ll govern as a conservative,” Toomey told reporters during a press conference at the Pennsylvania Leadership Conference, an annual gathering of conservative activists in the Keystone State.
Toomey's remarks came during a week in which prominent Republicans have been urging their party to unite behind a presidential candidate. Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush endorsed Romney on Wednesday. On Thursday, Sen. Jim DeMint of South Carolina--like Toomey--praised Romney without endorsing him.
The praise from DeMint and Toomey is significant because of their standing with parts of the GOP base. DeMint is a leading tea party figure, and Toomey is a former president of the antitax Club For Growth.
As he has previously, Toomey declined to explicitly declare his preference for Romney. But he made it clear that he thinks highly of the former Massachusetts governor and would be satisfied with him as the nominee.
“I think Governor Romney is absolutely committed to the principles of limited government,” Toomey said. “I think he knows the free-enterprise system is a source of prosperity and opportunity and personal fulfillment, and elevating people out of poverty. He’s been a practitioner, so he understands from a very concrete sense how markets work and create opportunities.”
Toomey’s kind words could help Romney in the state’s April 24 primary. Rick Santorum, a former senator from the Keystone State, will face pressure to bow out of the race if he doesn’t win his home state. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, another candidate, was originally from Pennsylvania.