The former Florida governor and brother of former President George W. Bush has endorsed Mitt Romney, giving what The New York Times called "the biggest catch of all" to the Republican favorite. CNN has the statement:
Congratulations to Governor Mitt Romney on his win last night and to all the candidates for a hard fought, thoughtful debate and primary season. Primary elections have been held in thirty-four states, and now is the time for Republicans to unite behind Governor Romney and take our message of fiscal conservatism and job creation to all voters this fall. I am endorsing Mitt Romney for our Party¹s nomination. We face huge challenges, and we need a leader who understands the economy, recognizes more government regulation is not the answer, believes in entrepreneurial capitalism and works to ensure that all Americans have the opportunity to succeed
Bush's endorsement has been the one to get for candidates in this race as he was a popular governor who had strong support for a presidential run of his own and, as the Times put it, is the "heir to the nation’s aging political dynasty." But he's been silent so far, except to criticize the field. He called the debates a "circular firing squad" and saying the candidates "are appealing to people's fears and emotion," in a Guardian interview. His mother, former first lady Barbara Bush, was less diplomatic. "I think it’s been the worst campaign I’ve ever seen in my life. I hate that people think compromise is a dirty word. It’s not a dirty word," she said earlier this month.
Jeb Bush stayed notably quiet during Florida's primary, which Romney won. At the time, he told Bloomberg News he thought both Romney and Gingrich were "credible" candidates, and said, "I intend to help whoever wins the nomination."
In a less glowing, but still important vote of support for Romney, the Tea Party group FreedomWorks dropped its resistance to his candidacy. Its vice president, Russ Walker, told the Washington Times: "It is a statistical fact that the numbers favor Mitt Romney," but he pointed out out that the Tea Party is a leaderless movement, "so it will be up to individuals to decide when and where they put their support." In its report Tuesday night, the Washington Times called that "perhaps [Romney's] biggest victory yet," but that was before Bush piped up on Wednesday. Still, everything seems to be coming up Romney on his wedding anniversary.
Update, 5:40 p.m. EDT: FreedomWorks walked back its lukewarm Romney support on Wednesday afternoon, with press secretary Jackie Bodnar saying "We're not in the tank for Romney at all," nor for anyone else. "We're not particularly excited about the way things are playing out" in the race, she told CBS.