Mitt Romney picked up two high-profile endorsements from top Congressional Republicans on Sunday just 48 hours before Super Tuesday—a one-two punch the GOP establishment hopes carries a simple message: “Make it stop!”
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, of Virginia, and Oklahoma Senator Tom Coburn both announced their support for Romney on Sunday, with each noting the candidate’s strength on economic issues in a move aimed at turning the nominal frontrunner into the presumptive nominee—and putting an end to the long, damaging Republican primary.
The move also reflects the that has set in among conservatives who had held out for a Romney alternative. Both Coburn and Cantor have sterling conservative credentials that they would be unlikely to risk tarnishing unless they were very confident that Romney will be the nominee.
In Cantor’s Virginia, Romney is expected to win—only he and Ron Paul are on the ballot—but he will likely lose in Coburn’s Oklahoma, where Santorum leads by double digits in recent polls.
Coburn is one of the Senate’s fiercest fiscal watchdogs, known for putting holds on dozens of bills at a time to get his way—a reputation that has earned the nickname “Dr. No.” His endorsement will help bolster Romney’s case that he’s a fiscal conservative.
Cantor’s ambition to become Speaker of the House is one of the worst kept secrets on Capitol Hill, and it’s unlikely he would endorse in the primary unless he thought it would help him get there. Current Speaker John Boehner, who also hails from a Super Tuesday state, has said he will not endorse any candidate until after the primary is over.
With two Congressional conservatives now leading the movement toward coalescing support behind Romney, it’s clear that many in the GOP are hoping that will happen this week.