Less than 24 hours after taking a commanding win in the Illinois primary, Mitt Romney got another big boost Wednesday when former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush announced he was throwing his support behind Romney’s campaign.
"Congratulations to Governor Mitt Romney on his win last night and to all the candidates for a hard-fought, thoughtful debate and primary season," Bush said in a statement. "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."
"We face huge challenges, and we need a leader who understands the economy, recognizes more government regulation is not the answer, believes in entrepreneurial capitalism and works to ensure that all Americans have the opportunity to succeed," Bush added in the statement.
Until now, the brother of former President George W. Bush kept quiet on who he would back, as he believed Romney had not demonstrated that he was the strongest nominee.
An associate of Bush told the New York Times that while he was still concerned about Romney’s tough stance on immigration, Bush believes that the former Massachusetts governor is the strongest candidate to challenge President Barack Obama in November.
Bush has actively hounded the Republican Party to court the Latino vote and not alienate them. In an opinion piece in the Washington Post, Bush said that Latino voters "will represent the margin of victory" in key states in this year's elections.
"For the Republican Party, the stakes could not be greater," Bush said in the Post. "Just eight years after the party's successful effort to woo Hispanic voters in 2004, this community - the fastest-growing group in the United States, according to census data - has drifted away."
Bush, whose wife is from Mexico, was the governor of Florida from 1999-2007.
Romney, who is now the clear GOP frontrunner, was in Washington on Wednesday to court lobbyists and congressmen to back his campaign along with calling for an end to the bitter battle for the GOP nod. With the Jeb Bush backing, other influential GOP party members are expected to follow his lead in the coming days by supporting Romney.