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U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio's, R-Fla., endorsement of Mitt Romney Wednesday night is yet another sign that the Republican presidential race is finally approaching an end.
The rising Republican star had vowed to stay neutral about the candidates until the general election, but he echoed former Florida governor Jeb Bush and asked conservatives to unite behind the current front-runner so the party can move on to focusing on defeating President Barack Obama in the fall.
On Fox News Wednesday night, Rubio chided the the GOP hopefuls who are banking on the strategy of a floor fight in Tampa in August, beacuse that's a recipe of four more years of Barack Obama.
The quicker we can get this campaign on that focus -- focused on the president's record, on the alternative that we offer -- the better off we're going to be as a movement but also the better off the country is going to be, Rubio told Sean Hannity, claiming the former Massachusetts governor earned the nomination.
Rubio has joined a chorus of Republicans calling for their divided party to unite behind the front-runner.
Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich have not collected nearly enough delegates to have a chance at getting the 1,144 required to secure the nomination and therefore have banked their campaign on the strategy that no one will. If they can prevent Romney from securing the Republican nomination after the last primary on June 26 in Utah, both candidates have said they hope on winning over the party during a brokered convention.
Ron Paul has also focused on getting as many delegates as possible from the state caucuses to have a strong presence at the Republican National Convention.
But Rubio, and other Republicans, fear that this inner-party fight makes them look weak. The 2012 Republican primary has proven to be uniquely longer than usual, as none of the candidates were able to drum up enough enthusiasm to win over conservative earlier in the race. When Bush endorsed Romney last week, he said it's about time the party supported a candidate.
Primary elections have been held in thirty-four states, and now is the time for Republicans to unite behind Governor Romney and take our message of fiscal conservatism and job creation to all voters this fall, he said in a statement.
Bush has also suggested the Rubio, popular not only for his policy but for his charisma, be Romney's pick for vice president. Rubio has repeatedly shot down the possibility and was no different Fox News Wednesday night.
I don't believe I'm going to be asked to be the vice presidential nominee, he said. That's not what I intend to be, that's not what I want to be, and that's not what's going to happen.
Both Bush and Rubio praised Romney for his experience in the private sector and entrepreneurial leadership, two qualities Rubio said was a stark contrast from President Obama.