Report: Mitt Romney to Endorse Marco Rubio

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Mitt Romney Campaigns Throughout Florida
Romney 1.0 and Rubio 0.5, in 2012Photo: Joe Raedle/2012 Getty Images

The Huffington Post is reporting that former presidential candidate Mitt Romney will endorse South Carolina second-place “victor” Marco Rubio for the GOP nomination, according to two sources. However, speaking on State of the Union Sunday morning, Rubio himself denied the report, noting that “I have no reason to believe he’s anywhere near endorsing anyone,” but adding that he would “love to have his endorsement.”

Others are disputing the report as well:

According to HuffPo, Romney had wanted to endorse earlier, but had held off out of respect for the now-departed Jeb Bush. While details surrounding the endorsement are apparently still being worked out, it would best come before Tuesday’s Nevada caucuses, which the Utah native won in both 2008 and 2012. In addition, Politico put a big story up on Sunday morning calling Rubio “Romney 2.0,” which should make the Rubio-loving GOP establishment really happy, since Romney 1.0 worked out so well. In addition, with Rubio still being ridiculed for his recent robotic line-repetition problems, being associated with any type of version number is probably a step in the wrong direction.

But as the article points out, several people who worked on Team Romney in 2012 do now work for Rubio, including his deputy campaign manager and political director. Politico also makes the case that Rubio will succeed where Romney failed because he has the less impeachable rags-to-political-riches story that Romney, a bona fide detached rich person, lacked. In other words, the similar messaging can still win over voters now that the GOP establishment has a new messenger who has a personal background that doesn’t involve Bain Capital. 

Then again, according to Politico, Rubio senior adviser Todd Harris rejects the Romney comparison, though his basis for that opinion is that Rubio has campaigned about family leave, student loans, and vocational education. Nonetheless, whatever the messaging or messenger, the connection could also be a kiss of death when facing a GOP electorate that seems hell-bent on anti-establishment outsiders and unvarnished truth-bombs.

Put another way: