A week after Rick Santorum abandoned his bid for the Republican presidential nomination, House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell on Tuesday offered belated endorsements to Mitt Romney, now the presumptive GOP nominee.
Boehner will chair the Republican National Convention in August and had refused to back any candidate during a testy primary season. As recently as Monday evening, the representative from Ohio declined to confirm his backing of Romney, telling reporters only that he was “talking about it.”
But Boehner asserted Tuesday morning that “it’s clear now Mitt Romney is going to be our nominee.”
“I think Mitt Romney has a set of economic policies that can put Americans back to work and, frankly, contrast sharply with the failed economic policies of President Obama,” Boehner said. “And I will be proud to support Mitt Romney and do everything I can to help him win.”
The second- and third-ranking House Republicans, Majority Leader Eric Cantor and Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy, already had given Romney their endorsements.
Until Tuesday, Boehner’s most notable comments about Romney had been negative. After Romney blasted the president last month for a private exchange with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev that was caught by an open microphone, Boehner suggested Romney was out of line.
“While the president is overseas, I think it’s appropriate that people not be critical of him or our country,” Boehner said.
McConnell hinted earlier this month that he would support Romney, saying in an interview on CNN that “the chances are overwhelming that he will be our nominee” and that “it’s time to turn our attention to the fall campaign and begin to make the case against the president of the United States.”
The senator from Kentucky formalized his endorsement Tuesday, shortly after Boehner did the same. “We’re all behind him,” McConnell said of Romney.Callum Borchers can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @callumborchers.