Houston (CNN) - Spouting some home-grown Texas wisdom, President George H. W. Bush urged his party to coalesce behind GOP candidate Mitt Romney with a formal endorsement Thursday.
"'It’s time when to hold ‘em and time when to fold ‘em,'" the elder Bush said, quoting Texas crooner Kenny Rogers after an interjected reminder from his wife, Barbara. "I think it’s time for people to all get behind this good man."
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After a private meeting with the former Massachusetts governor, the elder Bush - who wore a pair of arresting purple color-block socks - addressed reporters from his Houston office. He was seated between his wife and Romney. Bush presented Romney with a pair of navy socks with light stripes and a red toe and heel, a campaign aide told CNN.
In case his message was not clear, Bush added a note to the other GOP competitors still challenging Romney for the nomination.
"Some of ‘em waged a very good fight," Bush said, but again added "it's time" for Romney to emerge the victor.
Bush threw his informal support behind Romney in December but made it formal Thursday.
Romney echoed Bush's call for party unity.
"I think it's important for us to select a nominee and to get on with a campaign which will focus on two very different visions for America," he said.
He said the endorsement would help him on his "big day coming up next Tuesday," when voters in Wisconsin, Maryland and DC will vote.
"I hope to get a good number of delegates from those three contests and be on my way to securing the nomination and taking on the president," he said.
In response to a reporter's query, Romney said he had not met with President George W. Bush on this trip to Texas.
"He hasn't endorsed you yet?" the elder Bush asked Romney.
"Uh, no," Romney responded.
Barbara Bush chimed in with a ringing endorsement of Romney's wife, Ann.
"Mitt's wife is going to be the greatest first lady, next to Laura," Mrs. Bush said of her daughter-in-law - though both men argued Mrs. Bush should have included herself.
"I think you're at the top of the list," Romney said.