The Brave Men Who Endorsed Romney the Day His Competition Quit

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Mitt Romney needed friends back in February, when it looked like Rick Santorum might actually beat him in the Republican presidential primary. Sadly, some friends rushed to his side only after Santorum said he was quitting the race. Romney got five major endorsements Tuesday, and we've ranked their wimpyness.

Endorser: Terry Branstad. “I want to make a difference. I want to campaign actively,” the Iowa governor told the Des Moines Register Tuesday. "I want to help him carry the state of Iowa.” (Note: Branstad, pictured center, is wearing a "Dude It's Beef!" shirt for a pink slime event Tuesday.)

Timing: Acceptable. Though it's looked like Santorum was going to drop out in the last week or so, Branstad made his announcement several hours before Santorum quit the race.

EndorserLindsey Graham. "Now is the time to get behind Mitt Romney as our presidential nominee so that every corner of the Republican Party is united," the South Carolina senator said in a statement.

Timing: Suspicious. There's no time stamp on the statement, but the Graham's campaign tweeted it at 3:16p.m., an hour after news broke that Santorum would quit.

Endorser: Rick Scott. The governor was the last statewide official who hadn't endorsed, Politico's Alexander Burns reports. Scott issued a statement Tuesday saying, "There is no question that Rick Santorum ran a hard fought campaign. I commend his passion and his willingness to put the best interest of our party and nation first. Mitt Romney will be our party's nominee and it is critical that all Republicans coalesce behind Governor Romney and focus on electing him as President..."

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Timing: Weak. The statement was released less than an hour after Santorum quit the race.

Endorser: Bobby Jindal. Hours after Rick Santorum dropped out of the race, Jindal made his support of Romney public, Politico's Jonathan Martin reports. Jindal said in a statement, "Congratulations to Governor Romney on winning a hard fought race, I look forward to supporting him in retiring President Obama. I’d also like to congratulate Senator Santorum for running a strong race and for making the difficult decision to step aside at this time. It’s time for all Republicans to focus their energies on the fall campaign which will give Americans a fundamental choice between Obama’s lurch toward European style big government and the Republican alternative of a thriving private sector with a smaller government."

Timing: Pretty wimpy. The statement was released several hours after Santorum dropped out of the race.

Endorser: Foster Friess. The Santorum superPAC funder (and bad joke teller) said Tuesday evening, "I’m obviously going to be of help in whatever way I can," to help Romney,  Politico's Kenneth P. Vogel and Daniel Levinthal report.

Timing: Acceptable. Friess issued the press release several hours after Santorum quit, but Santorum was his guy. Going from neutral to pro-Romney should be easier than going from pro-Santorum to pro-Romney.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.