MELISSA BLOCK, Host:
From NPR News. This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Melissa Block.
MICHELE NORRIS, Host:
And I'm Michele Norris.
Today, Mitt Romney endorsed John McCain. Romney had hoped his resume and personal wealth would propel him to the Republican presidential nomination. But in Boston this afternoon with McCain at his side, Romney announced he was backing his former rival.
MITT ROMNEY: Things should get pretty rough in a political campaign. And in the thick of the fight, it's easy to lose sight of your opponent's finer qualities. But the truth of the matter is and in the case of Senator McCain, I can never quite do that even when the contest was close and our disagreements were debated, the caliber of the man was apparent.
NORRIS: The end for Mitt Romney's campaign came on Super Tuesday, February 5th. It was less than super for the former Massachusetts governor. Two days later, he was out of the race.
NPR national political correspondent Mara Liasson joins us to talk about the significant of - the significance of this endorsement.
Mara, we always question the value of endorsements. But this one seems like it's pretty big for John McCain.
MARA LIASSON: Yes, it is. Mitt Romney's endorsement comes with a lot of delegates. He's got 280 of them and he's told them to vote for McCain at the convention - added to the 842 delegates that McCain already had, that puts him only 69 delegates away from the 1,191 that he needs to clinch the nomination - so that significant.
It further consolidates the Republican Party behind McCain. Fred Thompson and Rudy Giuliani had already endorsed him. And many conservatives had rallied around Romney not enough to win but that will also help McCain appeal to them.
NORRIS: So, good for John McCain. What about Mitt Romney? What does this do for him?
LIASSON: Oh, I think it's great for Mitt Romney. It shows that he is a good soldier in the GOP. If he's interested in running again in 2012 if McCain should not succeed, he certainly, keeps himself in good standing in the party, and he can keep his hopes alive that maybe he would be picked as a vice president.
NORRIS: Now, we should point out that officially, the race for the GOP nomination is still going on. Mike Huckabee is still running as is Ron Paul.
LIASSON: That's right. Mike Huckabee is still running as he says any time the bell rings, any time there's a primary, I will be there even though it is now not mathematically possible for him to win. He is campaigning pretty hard in Wisconsin although he's taking a day off on Saturday to go to the Cayman Islands to make a paid speech; that's how he makes his living.
But I think he wants to do as well as he can. Maybe he can end up in the number two slot. You know, he has 242 delegates, maybe he hopes he can get even more than Mitt Romney at the end. I think he also would like to keep his hopes alive for 2012. Everywhere he campaigns he does well, he gets more names on his list. And he also, I think, would like to be on that shortlist for the vice presidential slot.
NORRIS: And he says he's going to stay on that race until John McCain reaches that magic number.
Thank you Mara.
LIASSON: Thank you Michele.
NORRIS: That was Mara Liasson, NPR's national political correspondent.
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