Romney Backed in Republican Race by Tea-Party Favorite Rubio

Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg

Senator Marco Rubio in Washington D.C. on Aug. 1, 2011. Close

Senator Marco Rubio in Washington D.C. on Aug. 1, 2011.

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Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg

Senator Marco Rubio in Washington D.C. on Aug. 1, 2011.

U.S. Senator Marco Rubio of Florida endorsed Republican presidential front-runner Mitt Romney, saying it’s time for the party to unite behind the candidate who has “earned” the nomination.

Rubio, 40, a first-term senator who is a favorite of Tea Party activists and is regarded as a top prospect to be the Republican vice-presidential running mate, announced his backing for the former Massachusetts governor on Fox News tonight.

“We have got to come together behind who I think has earned this nomination, and that’s Mitt Romney,” he said.

Rubio tonight called the strategy of former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum and former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich to pursue the nomination through a floor fight at the party’s August convention “a recipe for disaster.”

A series of elected officials, business leaders and party activists have announced their support of Romney during the past week, including former Florida Governor Jeb Bush. Romney is scheduled to receive the official endorsement tomorrow of former President George H.W. Bush, Jeb’s father.

Former first lady Barbara Bush has also backed Romney, and recorded calls for voters voicing her support played before the March 6 primaries in Ohio and Vermont. Jeb’s brother, former President George W. Bush, has yet to make an endorsement in the Republican race.

To contact the reporter on this story: Julie Hirschfeld Davis in Washington at jdavis159@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Mark Silva at msilva34@bloomberg.net

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