February 14, 2008
Republican Mitt Romney is expected to endorse Senator John McCain for the party's presidential nomination on Thursday.
The former Presidential candidate announced that he was suspending his campaign last week after a big loss on Super Tuesday.
Romney collected 280 delegates during his run through the early primaries and caucuses, enough to move McCain close to the total of 1,191 needed to clinch the nomination a full nine months before the November general election.
Romney is expected to ask his national convention delegates to swing behind the front-runner, according to officials familiar with the decision.
The officials who disclosed Romney's plans did so on condition of anonymity to avoid pre-empting a formal announcement later in the day. McCain was campaigning in Vermont and Rhode Island during the day, and added a flight to Boston to appear with Romney to accept the endorsement at his waterfront campaign headquarters.
Romney's decision marks a pleasant end to a very intense period of fighting between himself and John McCain. They criticized one another in television ads in state after state, a clash that effectively ended on February 5th, when McCain won a string of big-state primaries from coast to coast.
Officials said the former Massachusetts governor made his decision to back McCain earlier in the day, citing a desire to help the Arizona senator wrap up the nomination before too much more time passed and while Democrats still did not have a nominee.
McCain is on a steady march toward amassing the 1,191 delegates he needs, but Huckabee has proven an unexpectedly durable challenger. With a strong appeal to evangelical conservatives, Huckabee defeated McCain in two out of three states that chose delegates last weekend, and ran a far stronger race than expected before losing the Virginia primary on Tuesday.
Romney was the only one of McCain's primary opponents who had resisted lining up behind the nominee in waiting; Rudy Giuliani and
Fred Thompson both have endorsed him.