Florida U.S. Republican Senator Marco Rubio endorsed former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney for the GOP nominee last night during an interview with Sean Hannity on the Fox News channel.
Rubio's endorsement comes a week after former Florida Governor Jeb Bush endorsed Mitt Romney last week. The buzz that could have been generated by Bush's endorsement was overshadowed by Romney's Etch - A - Sketch scandal.
Rubio said that Mitt Romney offers "A stark contrast to the President's record.... I think all of the candidates who have run in the race have a lot to be proud of - they offered a lot to the debate. But I just can't buy into this idea that, by their own admission, there saying the only way they can win this race is by having a floor fight in Tampa in August, and I think that's a recipe to deliver four more years to Barack Obama - and our country, forget about the Republican Party, our country cannot afford that. And so we have got to come together behind who I think has earned this nomination, and that's Mitt Romney."
Rubio's "stark contrast" comment was evidently made to counter Former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum's criticism of Romney that there is no difference between Romney and Obama. The timing of the endorsement comes as the Etch-A-Sketch scandal has dwindled down some and after Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich's announcement that he is drawing down the scale of Presidential campaign which, by recent polls, has given Santorum a slight bump in southern states such as North Carolina.
Once dubbed the 'Tea Party' favorite, Rubio has come under criticism by Floridians who voted for him after his support, then withdrawal, of PIPA and his stance on the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012.
Many conservatives are giving Rubio an earful on twitter for his endorsement for Romney. One person tweeted, "Marco, Marco, Marco...so sad re: endorsing Romney. Should have stayed NEUTRAL!!! Disappointing.
" While another tweeted, "The hate against @marcorubio for his Romney endorsement shows more about the feelings for Romney than anything else."
So will Rubio's endorsement help Romney or just hurt Rubio more with Tea Partiers and conservative Republicans? There has not been enough time for polling data to come in yet. But to think Rubio's endorsement would somehow convince conservative Republicans to back Romeny appears (anecdotally at least) to have backfired against Rubio.