Former Rivals Struggle to Endorse Romney

Former Rivals Struggle to Endorse Romney May 8, 2012

One of the truly amusing things about this year’s Republican primary is watching all of Romney’s former rivals endorse him and try to pretend that they really, truly support him despite the vitriolic attacks they made against him during the campaign. Newt, who bluntly called Romney a liar during the primary, can’t even bring himself to try to appear sincere:

Newt Gingrich accused Mitt Romney on Thursday of saying “things that weren’t true,”but fell short of reasserting his claim that Romney was a liar.

“I still believe that the Romney campaign said things that weren’t true,” said Gingrich on CNN’s “Situation Room.”

“Forget about the Mitt Romney campaign. Is Mitt Romney a liar?” pressed host Wolf Blitzer.

“The governor said things at times that weren’t true,” Gingrich elaborated.

Despite being pushed on the question by Blitzer, Gingrich just shrugged and declined to say the word “liar.”

Back in January, Gingrich had no qualms about making the accusation. “You’re calling Mitt Romney a liar?” asked correspondent Norah O’Donnell then.

“Well, you seemed shocked by it. Yes,” Gingrich responded.

On Thursday, Gingrich tried to put on a less confrontational — if still slightly bitter — attitude towards the presumptive Republican nominee. He said he would “trust Mitt Romney a thousand times over” compared to President Barack Obama, and would even campaign for the former Massachusetts governor.

Michele Bachmann, who declared during the primary that Romney can’t possibly beat Obama in the general election, has also jumped ever so reluctantly on the bandwagon:

Thursday also marked the debut of Bachmann as a Romney surrogate. The Minnesota congresswoman supported Romney despite the fact, as Democrats pointed out, that she once said that Romney has “no chance” to defeat Obama.

After calling Romney “the only option” in a statement released by her congressional campaign, Bachmann offered a full-throated endorsement here.

“I am honored to be able to be here to introduce not only Gov. Bob McDonnell, the fabulous governor of the state of Virginia, but also to lend my voice and my endorsement to Mitt Romney as our president and take the country back,” Bachmann said. “I think for all of America, this is a very simple proposition this November: President Barack Obama, President Mitt Romney. You decide. Very easy.”

Reminds me a lot of a gun-to-the-head confession. To some extent, this always happens during elections; former rivals unite to defeat the other party’s candidate and sometimes that makes for awkward moments — strange bedfellows and all that. But I can’t ever remember it being quite this stark before. In a year when a large segment of Republican voters clearly wanted anyone but Romney to get the nomination, his rivals mounted incredible attacks on him to win over those voters. And now they have to put on a fake smile and pretend that they really, truly support him.

But over and over again, we hear the same refrain: the best thing they can find to say about him, the only thing they can find to say about him, is that he’d be better than Obama. And that’s also pretty much the only thing that Democrats can say in defense of President Obama, that he’s better than Romney. But I confess to still being greatly amused at the Republican spectacle.

"Thanks for being so forthright."

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