(WASHINGTON) — House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Virginia, officially threw his support behind Mitt Romney Sunday morning, becoming the highest ranking Member of Congress to endorse a GOP presidential candidate.
Cantor, the No. 2 Republican in the House, said on NBC’s Meet the Press that with the economy being the top priority in this election, Romney was the candidate best suited to fix the country’s fiscal problems.
“Mitt Romney is the only candidate in the race who’s put forward a bold pro-growth, pro-jobs plan for the future,” Cantor said. “America has a critical leadership role [globally] and we have to fix our ailing economy and Mitt Romney’s plan does that.”
Cantor’s endorsement comes just two days before voters in his home state of Virginia head to the polls on Super Tuesday.
The Republican leader said he was confident Romney will do “very well” in Virginia, but did not say if the former Massachusetts governor could lock up his lead in the GOP race on Super Tuesday, where 10 states will vote and 419 delegates are up for grabs.
“That’s for the pundits to answer,” Cantor said. ”It’ll be a hard fought race to the end.”
Cantor stopped short of saying that Romney’s chief rivals, Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum, should drop out of the race.
“I think that our race and our system allows anyone to participate in the process,” Cantor said. “But I do believe Mitt Romney will win our nomination and will win the presidency in November.”
Romney’s senior campaign adviser Eric Fehrnstrom said Cantor called Romney on Wednesday—the day after Romney’s clutch wins in the Michigan and Arizona primaries—to inform him of his support.
“It was a pleasant surprise,” Fehrnstrom said, adding that GOP congressional leaders such as Cantor are probably looking for a presidential candidate that can lead Republicans to big victories in Congress as well as the White House.
“I gotta believe in the back of his mind he’s also thinking about maintaining a Republican majority in the house,” Fehrnstrom said. “Elected Republicans are looking for someone who has coat tails and not concrete shoes and I think nominating a person who doesn’t have any experience in the private sector, has been a Washington insider all his life like Rick Santorum, is not a good contrast for the Republican Party to put up against Barack Obama.”
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