(CNN) - Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, whose endorsement has been highly-sought during the 2012 GOP primary contests, announced Wednesday he was backing presidential candidate Mitt Romney.
In a statement, Bush congratulated Romney on his win in Illinois's primary, held Tuesday, and said it was "time for Republicans to unite behind Governor Romney."
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"I am endorsing Mitt Romney for our Party¹s nomination," Bush wrote. "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."
Romney campaign senior adviser Eric Fehrnstrom said Bush called Romney Wednesday morning to alert him of his endorsement.
In a statement, Romney praised Bush as a unifying force.
"Jeb Bush is synonymous with good government and with conservative policies that yield results," Romney said. "He has long demonstrated an outstanding ability to bring people together. I therefore take tremendous pride in having earned his endorsement. This is a key moment in the presidential contest and Jeb’s counsel and support will be critical in the coming months in my effort to defeat Barack Obama and turn around our country."
Bush served as Florida's governor from 1999-2007, and is the son of former President George H.W. Bush. His brother is former President George W. Bush.
Jeb Bush was considered a favorite to jump into the 2012 GOP contest, but stated firmly in May 2011 he would not be a candidate for his party's presidential nomination.
Bush declined to endorse a candidate ahead of Florida's January 31 primary, saying he wanted to allow a candidate to "earn" his victory in the state.
In January, Bush told CNN Chief National Correspondent John King about the challenges Romney faced ahead of the Sunshine State's contest, suggesting the former Massachusetts governor needed to connect more personally with voters.
"His challenge is also to show his heart," Bush said of Romney "He has a great record, and he's been a successful man in every way, and I think people can relate to that if he expresses himself in the right way."
George H.W. Bush and his wife, former first lady Barbara Bush, publicly backed Romney in December, and Barbara Bush recorded robo-calls for the candidate that ran in Ohio ahead of the state's Super Tuesday contest.
George W. Bush has not yet endorsed a candidate for the 2012 GOP nomination.
Responding to news of Jeb Bush's endorsement of Romney, a spokesman for rival candidate Newt Gingrich said "It's a completion of the establishment trifecta."
R.C. Hammond was referring to Romney endorsements from George H.W. Bush, former Kansas senator and presidential candidate Bob Dole, and Jeb Bush.
CNN's Chris Welch and Peter Hamby contributed to this report.
I still will never vote for a Mormon. Won't vote for Obama either.
@Worried – HAHAHAHA... FUNNY. Considering suffering now, and more if Obama is re-elected. I really don't know why Democrats are so stupid. Well, I should not say that. But they make a stupid decision voting for Obama. I do not know how they can make up so many, countless excuses for Obama. I really believe that 90% of the people who vote for Obama, do not know a bit about the History of the country. Guess what, there was a survey that said that 70% + percent of the people who would vote for Obama did not go to college.
MARK states above that Romney accepts "trickle down economic" and also "accept high unemployment" as normal........what a lie. Its amazing how people that are capable of piecing together a paragrah can pen outright lies like she/he did. Must be Santorum with Mark's name.
George H.W. Bush and his wife, Barbara Bush, and now Jeb Bush, all backing Rmoney.
Restoring America to the Bush era!
God help us if Jeb is eying the VP spot – that is the last thing we need another bush in office
@Jariv – if you are so dissatisfied with the President that we Americans elected, why don't you get out of America and go back to the dungheap you came from? You know where I mean. Sorry, currybreath, but you are off the mark – it is conservatives who have been scientifically proven to be lower in intelligence than the average citizen. I have been to your home country – I wouldn't be dissing anybody if I was from such a disgraceful heritage, buddy,
He's holding his nose while he endorses.
I bet Jeb Bush and other elected Republicans really think that their endorsement of the clear winner has influence. What it tells me is that they are week and gutless. I can't stand Christie but at least he had the stones to pick a candidate at the near start.
Really? A Bush endorsement is highly sought after? Why not just get W to come out of hiding and endorse Romney too, that will help Romney to "seal the deal". Have fun getting your hat handed to you, Mitt.
We're suffering now and it's time to get someone in the White House that can stop the suffering.
And whose economic policies precipitated and caused the suffering? Republican.
could Jeb be looking for a spot on the ticket? Another Bush would be great
Truly SAD when people will not vote for someone because of their choice of religion. I have never once heard Romney bringing his religious beliefs into the political race. Yet Santorum constantly pushes and shoves his beliefs down people's throats and still gets support from people who don't like Catholics.
Strange how that works isn't it?
Now that Romney is a damaged candidate, who most likely will lose in the general election, Jeb Bush finally endorses Romney. That is good politics. Had he been a real supporter, he would have endorsed Romney long ago, to rally around one candidate, and avoid all the damage done to the Republican candidates since the debates began. Romney since the first debate has shown that he is not the strongest candidate, and that he does not have the skills to lead this country. His statements about the middle class and poor show that he is out of touch with the majority of this country. Romney’s comments about the poor and his not wanting to help bail out the auto industry, show that he will be in the hip pocket of the super-rich.
So Bush's endorsement at this late stage in the game will at least ensure that when and if he runs in 4 years he will have Romney's dollars to count on.
The endorsement that many would like to see is from the last Republican President, George W. Bush. For some reason, George W. Bush has not made a formal endorsement, unlike most all other previous presidents, for example, Clinton endorsing Obama, etc. George W.'s endorsement would be the most appropriate since Bush's policies are very similar to what Romney is proposing, including keeping low the taxes for the super-rich, and invading small countries, like Iraq (Romney wants to invade Iran).
This is exciting to many Romney supporters! Other HUGE names will follow soon I'm sure.
Jarkv, "a study said...". Sorry, statistically, the more education people have ( Inc advanced degrees) the more likely they are to vote Democrat.
Also, it is a fundamental fallacy that anyone with a different belief system than you (in any direction) must be stupid.
Does anyone seriously want to hear from YET ANOTHER BUSH?
Guess what, there was a survey that said that 70% + percent of the people who would vote for Obama did not go to college.
The same imaginary survey said that 85% of the people who voted for John McCain never attended college, much less graduated.
Well, if it's not Mr. Death Penalty himself (especially while running for re-election in Florida, when a certain female was on death row). This "endorsement" should be the kiss of death for Robot Romney. Who cares – Obama will win in a landslide victory.
I hope Baby Bush keeps mum on his choice for republican nomination. That kind of endorsement can embarass anybody.
we should only be so lucky to have Jeb Bush as VP...he's a brilliant man1
Looks like it's gonna be a Romney / Bush ticket....not sure a Bushie on the ticket is going to help the Mittster, however.
once upon a horse – "could Jeb be looking for a spot on the ticket? Another Bush would be great!"
endorsements are a dime a dozen, i endorse obama
People are voting for a person to be President because he has money? What do people think he's gonna make the whole country rich? Wake up folks were on the right track and the right train. The Republicans have exposed their hand, we see what happens with the trickle down economics, it just doesn't work.
Somebodya ask the ex governor of Florida why he crumbled to the NRA and signed the "stand your ground" law. Thanks to him florida has become the wild wild south!
Another reason not to think much of his endorsement of anybody! He is as clueless as his brother!