- The Washington Times - Friday, March 30, 2012

House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan endorsed Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney on Friday, landing the former Massachusetts governor another high-profile supporter as the party starts to rally behind him in hopes of ending the bloody nomination race.

“I think he deserves to be the nominee. I think he earned it. He has emerged as the best candidate,” Mr. Ryan said in an interview with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, his hometown newspaper.

Mr. Ryan’s support follows endorsements from former President George H.W. Bush and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, the freshman lawmaker and conservative superstar who said he opposed Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum’s plan to win the nomination by forcing a floor fight at the Republican Nation Convention this summer in Tampa, Fla.

Mr. Ryan shared a similar message during an appearance on Fox News’ “Fox & Friends,” arguing that the campaign has been “constructive” but should now come to a close.

“I think we’re entering a phase where it could become counterproductive if this drags on much longer,” he said. “And so that’s why I think we need to coalesce as conservatives around Mitt Romney and focus on the big task at hand, which is defeating Barack Obama in the fall.”

Mr. Ryan and Mr. Rubio are considered to be possible running mates for Mr. Romney, who has struggled to win over the more conservative and religious elements of the party — thanks in large part to his evolving positions on abortion, gay marriage and guns.

Mr. Romney and Mr. Ryan have embraced similar plans for reshaping the nation’s Medicare program.

The seven-term congressman plans to campaign with the former Massachusetts governor ahead of the Wisconsin primary, which is seen as the biggest prize out of the nomination contests on Tuesday, when voters in D.C. and Maryland also head to the polls.

Mr. Romney appears to be poised for a strong performance and his chances are bolstered by the fact that Rick Santorum failed to get on the ballot in the nation’s capital, forfeiting the chance to compete for 19 delegates.

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who grabbed national headlines for fighting against some of the state’s public employee unions, is the only remaining big holdout in the state.

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