(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.
Just another flip flopping liberal endorsing another flip flopping liberal.
Noooo, not another Bush please. The last one left us broke and at war!!!! Plant this bush back in Florida, please....
Getting a late endorsement from anyone named Bush is not going to sway very many voters. If anything, it's sign that Romney may take us back to the "road to depression" that exiisted during the administration of another man named Bush.
Jeb Bush, who? The one who signed 'stand your ground' law; which evidently tripled number of homicides in Florida (reported by CNN). I hope his endorsement hurts Romney.
DUH !!!!!! Sure- wait till it`s realistically and statistically over THEN climb on board. --- Meaningless
Bush endorses Romney . Who cares who a Bush likes. Just another Republican / Tea Party member trying to get the power back to the rich old out of touch Republicans.
An endorsement from Jeb Bush is not much different that the gift of crabs. Poor Mitt. He can't win for losing. He doesn't have a chance in Nov.
Jeb endorses lier romney . Lier romney praises brother for keeping us out of depression which he caused. Pay back. Thanks lier romney for opening another can of whoop ass. Obama / biden 2012 the only way forward.
Typo ... "different THAN the gift of...."
I can't help but wonder how many of these GOP candidates for president have personally called G. W. Bush and told him "DO NOT ENDORSE ME, EVER!" I don't ever in my life remember a former president not involved in his party's campaing for the White House. Even Clinton actively campaigned after he was out of office.
Say no more, a crook that helped our economy get where it is today. This guy is a joke TOO for the party, the only one worth a damn is Dr. Ron Paul! If you do not care that the Federal Reserve is not owned by the United States and yet controls our monetary system you need to research how they have brought our country to its knees. watch a video called The Money Masters... The Fed is just another part of the new world order, just like George H Bush preached. Save this country and your freedom, liberty...stop listening to the media and research what Ron Paul really stands and fights for.
No Bush the idiots Family, please, this nation does not and can not afford Another Dynasty idiots. Yes, plant this idiot in Florida....God bless the USA. Look, what happened in India and it's dynasty. Nonsense., Gandhi nonsense prevailed Nehru's family and India's detriment.....I read world History....
I just love the who care comments and the tired old rich Republican comments. More Americans side themselves on the more conservative side of things even if they don't prefer a party affiliation. I am an almost 40 lower to middle income American and align myself on the Republican/Conservative/Libertarian side of things depending on the issue. Jeb Bush is highly respected and this endorsement means a lot within the Republican party.
Well, Romney is the chosen one among the rich. First old Bush endorses him, the mamma Bush, now Jeb or Bubba whatever he is known as. Next come little Bush. This says a lot. Just wait until the Etche a Sketch changes everything. Flipflop will flipflop like there is no tomorrow when he can taste the White House.
The Fed is just another part of the new world order, just like George H Bush preached. Save this country and your freedom, liberty...stop listening to the media and research what Ron Paul really stands and fights for.
We did the research in 2008 and rejected his message back then, once again. Ron Paul wants to get rid of the Dept' of Defense, but only admits to 5 departments. He wants to get rid of all personal income taxes, and reduce corporate taxes in nearly half while saying nothing about what he would do about all of the tax loopholes.
His projected revenue stream wouldn't be enough to support an effective government for a nation of this size. His idea of small government is no government. Paul gives Libertarianism a bad name because of his ideologically extreme makeover of it.
NO NO NO not another Bush the last two got us into unwinable wars and a terrible economic crippling recession.
I am surprised to see and hear Republican politicians and voters cheering and raving in support of Jeb Bush. I know conservatives have short memories and clap on cue like trained seals, but I didn't think they could flip-flop on their position on Jeb Bush this quickly.
Recall how the Tea Party ran a primary candidate against Jeb Bush during his reelection campaign. Jeb Bush lost and now Florida has that highly unpopular guy in the governer's mansion with a questionable past. But, what made the Tea Party turn against Jeb Bush in the first place.
Jeb Bush liked The Stimulus, which contradicted the conservative narrative of failure that they were trying to build. Jeb Bush liked it so much that he appeared on stage in Florida with Pres. Obama and thanked him for it. Bush said it saved his state. Bush jokingly asked for more. Jeb Bush was all but kicked out of the FL Republican Party.
I know that Mittens was so disappointed not to receive the highly sought after "W" Bush endorsement and just had to settle for "that other Bush's" endorsement.
Rudy, that was Bill Crist, not Jeb Bush. Crist was running for the Senate against Marco Rubio, and he was the one who appeared onstage and supported the Stimulus. Crist lost his primary 2 years ago.
Oops. Thanks, Tom.
If anyone has the name Bush I run as fast as I can. Our country has paid more money to the Bush family than we will ever know, and they keep wanting more. You don't think Romney is going to get an endorsement from a Bush without paying up when the time comes do you?
As for me, if I was a Republican canadidate for anything (sewage commissioner even) and Praise the Lord I am not a Republican, I would consider a Bush endorsement the kiss of death.
Rudy, no problem. I would rather I tell you this than have the usual mouth-breathers do it.
if i were mitt, i dont think i would want an endorsement from jeb. he wasted florida as the governor. he lowered the education standard so dumb kids could pass, thus we have dumb kids.
Not sure what some of you are referring to, but Jeb was the most efficient Governor we had in Fl for the last two decades. He turned around his predecessor failures. One example, The schools in Fl under his predecessor, a Democrat, was ranked 46th in the Nation. Under Jeb the school systems in Fl were ranked in the top 15.