(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."
– Follow the Ticker on Twitter: @PoliticalTicker
"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.
jeb and marco were the failures in florida and they failed BIGGGGGGGGGG
Check out the percentage of Phd's that voted for Obama. Over 70%
Matt doesn't want a mormon or a colored in office thats what he's saying.
Jeb Bush waits to see which way the wind blows before endorsing a candidate. Ironic that it turns out to be Romney, the poster boy for this kind of wishy-washy, flip-flopping posturing.
Why shouldn't Bush endorse him? Romney is pretty much promising a third Bush term in the White House. I don't see anything different in his 'ideas' than what we got under W. The Bush and Romney families will probably make a bunch of extra money, so yeah, this endorsement makes sense. Almost everyone else in the world will be screwed but that has never seemed to trouble these aristocrats.
If Romney had any sense(which he doesn't) he would put some distance between himself and anything Bush...I see a landslide victory in Prez Obama's future.
Wrong answer Jnuey. The dems NEVER had a filibuster-proof majority in the senate. There were 59 seats with Al Franken's seat being contested by that sore loser norm coleman. Then Senator Kennedy passed, which pushed them back to 59. While they MAY have the majority in the senate the rethugs made it their mission from day one to obstruct. As for them STILL owning two thirds of congress, WRONG AGAIN! The rethugs retook the majority in 2010, but don't let the facts stand in the way of your lies.
Obama will mop the floor with Mittens!!!
I still remember when the Gingrich staff broke someones foot for holding a sign for another Republican Party Candidate.
That's right Jen, all the good little sheep will flock behind the the candidate endorsed by the family of the guy who got us into this mess. Can you say, "baaaaahhh"?
Right Jeb......just like you endorsed and signed our "Stand your ground" law.........We REALLY do not care who anyone whose last name is BUSH endorses.................
Ronnie: I didn't say anything about "a colored." Just Obama. I supported Herman Cain, and I'm currently supporting Glenn Morton for Congress.
But nice try at making me sound like a bigot...
I am a life-long Democrat, but good/smart choice Mr. Bush. I realize you are going to get bombarded by the president's spiked Kool Aid drinking and misguided supporters. However, don't let it bother you. They are just bitter because their "man" turned to be a clueless/lying/hypocritical flip-flopper.
Who cares. Bush family = failures!
If mittens is thinking of this guy for his running mate, he'd better invest in full-body armor lest he meet the same fate as president raygun. The mental patient who shot him was the son of a prominent bush family supporter, and there have always been whispers that it was no coincidence.
Of course, Jeb is going to endorse the Mittens; they are distant kin. When will Americans realize that presidents are not elected by ballot, but chosen by bloodline. Barry is a distant relative of Dick Cheney and George Bush. Check it out and weep America.
Another Bush endorsement probably won't help Mitt too much. Sorry!
timothy - Check out the percentage of Phd's that voted for Obama. Over 70%
Who cares. Some "smart" people can't tie their shoe laces or perform daily grooming activities. Why should who they vote for matter more than anybody else. School smarts does not equal real world street smarts. I guess you're too young to have learned that yet.
Jeb Bush, showing the "wisdom" of his family, endorsed the Florida law that is shielding the murderer of a young black man under the guise of "self-defense".
Meanwhile, the Extreme Court is hearing the case of a man who had the nerve to tell Dick Cheney to his face that his Iraq policies were disgusting, and got arrested for assault.
So, maybe Dick Cheney should go to Florida...
Highly sought???? Hilarious!!!!!!
No, don't unite yet...it's way more fun watching the seesaw teeter back and forth with each primary...please continue to tear yourselves up on your own dime :-)
Jerry, I'm a lifelong republican and a resident of the state of Florida, and someone who remembers the way things were prior to 2000. Jeb and his entire family should meet the same fate as Moussalini.
Are people really this insane that they would endorse another Bush after the fiasco his brother created?? What is wrong with these people? Bush is the cause of the greatest recession in history since the great Depression. I'm sorry and sad to say this is about skin color and some people not being able to handle having a black man in charge. They don't care who gets in as long as President Obama gets out. This really scares me because I remember Jeb stealing the Florida election several years ago. These people will stop at nothing and will lie and cheat their way into the White House. I am embarrassed to be an American. So sad. It's hard to believe it's 2012....
@wakeuppeople: THANK YOU for the best political nickname for Romney: MITTENS! Say it loud, say it often and it will begin to make sense. What is Mittens' scratching post? Does he need claws or to be de-clawed? The feline rhetoric is endless! I love it, and I will use it continuously!
good luck Mitt !