U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran of Mississippi endorsed fellow Republican Mitt Romney for president on Wednesday, stating that the former Massachusetts governor is the only GOP candidate that has the experience to improve the nation's economy.

Cochran, who is Mississippi's senior senator, is a member of the powerful Appropriations Committee and a ranking member of the Republican Party. His endorsement follows several others this week, indicating the Republican establishment may be starting to embrace Romney as their nominee following Tuesday night's GOP debate that largely focused on the U.S. economy.

There will be ups and downs for Romney, but he's got this contest where he needs it to be. There is no one remaining who can best him one on one, wrote David Hill, a pollster who has worked with Republican candidates and causes, wrote in The Hill following the debate, in a review that is indicative of how many have responded to the event.

Former House Speaker Dennis Hastert, of Illinois, also announced he was backing Romney, as well as Rep. Judy Biggert of Illinois and former Rep. Susan Molinari of New York. These followed a highly anticipated endorsement on Tuesday from New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie

I believe he's the best person to be able to articulate Republican values, Christie said, even defending Romney's overhauling of the Massachusetts healthcare system -- typically derided as RomneyCare - by saying the former governor did not raise one tax to implement the new system.

Even before Christie made his announcement, several of his financial backers had decided to support the Romney campaign, according to multiple reports. Among them is the billionaire hedge fund manager Paul Singer, who is one of the GOP's most sought-after fundraisers.

Republicans had pinned Christie as their best hope for winning the 2012 election, but last week he announced he would not run in this election cycle.

On Tuesday, Romney was also endorsed by former Sens. Judd Gregg of New Hampshire and Mel Martinez of Florida and U.S. Rep. Michael Grimm of New York.