(CNN) - While stopping short of a full-throated endorsement, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell on Sunday predicted Mitt Romney will become the Republican presidential pick and trumpeted the former Massachusetts governor as an “outstanding” nominee.
“I think he's going to be an excellent candidate, and I think the chances are overwhelming that he will be our nominee,” McConnell said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”
Romney has 571 delegates, according to CNN estimates, and McConnell argued that the GOP is in the “final phase” of the nominating process and will likely have its presidential candidate soon.
“It's absolutely apparent that it's in the best interests of our party at this particular point to get behind the person who is obviously going to be our nominee and to begin to make the case against the president of the United States,” McConnell told CNN Chief Political Correspondent Candy Crowley.
Asked why he has not thrown his support behind Romney in the form of an endorsement, McConnell said voters in the upcoming contests in Wisconsin, Maryland and the District of Columbia do not need his advice.
“Most of the members of the Senate Republican Conference are either supporting him, or they have the view that I do, that it's time to turn our attention to the fall campaign,” he said.
McConnell, though not officially endorsing Romney, joins a growing number of leading Republicans calling on the party to unite around one candidate. House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, former President George H. W. Bush and Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida all gave their nods to Romney this week.
“I think he will be an outstanding nominee,” McConnell said. “I think he can win the election.”
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