Florida Sen. Marco Rubio endorsed Mitt Romney tonight, giving the presumptive nominee a boost from one of the Republican Party's most popular personalities.
Rubio's move reflects a long-standing pledge to remain on the sidelines due to personal ties to many of the Republican candidates. As late as Tuesday, a Rubio aide said he would only endorse once the race was effectively over — and that time is now.
"It's evidently increasingly clear that Mitt Romney's going to be the nominee," Rubio said on Hannity tonight. "I am going to endorse Mitt Romney."
"I can't just buy into this idea that by their own admission the only way they can win this race is through a floor fight [at the convention,]" he said about Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum, calling the prospect of a contested convention "a disaster."
Rubio is frequently mentioned as a potential running-mate for Romney, and his decision to endorse Romney will only turn up the volume on the vice-presidential talk. As usual, Rubio said he will not be the nominee, but wouldn't rule it out if asked.
"We have an obligation to work on behalf of the nominee, Mitt Romney," he said.
From our story this morning, quoting a Rubio aide:
An aide to Sen. Marco Rubio, who often tops the list of likely GOP vice presidential nominees and mentioned as a potential 2016 or 2020 hopeful, said Rubio remains committed to his pledge to wait until the nomination is locked up before endorsing.
“Newt Gingrich was been really helpful to him with his book. He serves with Ron Paul’s son. Romney endorsed him early on when he was running for the Senate,” the aide said. “There is the personal connection he has with the candidates, and then there’s also not wanting to get in the middle of it.”