Sizing up the Rubio endorsement of Romney

by Ryan Streeter on March 30, 2012. Follow Ryan on Twitter.

Scott Conroy at RCP makes a good point on the difference between the endorsements Romney picked up from Chris Christie and Marco Rubio.

Christie, as you’ll recall, made his endorsement on the heels of his announcement that he wasn’t running for President himself. He threw his support behind Romney and has played the role of faithful booster since then.

Rubio, on the other hand, waited until this week. As Conroy notes, it’s a very different kind of endorsement:

Instead of following in Christie’s footsteps by immediately embracing the role of attack dog, Rubio said that all of the Republican candidates “have a lot to be proud of” and he acknowledged that he was putting skin into the game at a time when it is “increasingly clear” that Romney will become the party’s standard-bearer in November.

“I am going to endorse Mitt Romney, and the reason why is not only because he’s going to be the Republican nominee, but he offers, at this point, such a stark contrast to the president’s record,” Rubio said…

Rubio’s enthusiasm level had not kicked into a higher gear during an interview Thursday with The Daily Caller’s Matt Lewis…”There are a lot of other people out there that some of us wish had run for president, but they didn’t,” he said. “I think Mitt Romney would be a fine president, and he’d be way better than the guy who’s there right now.”

In a separate interview with Newsmax, Rubio reiterated that Santorum’s and Gingrich’s convention strategies were the “turning point” in his decision to endorse — and not, by implication, anything that Romney had done. He then praised the front-runner with some notable qualifiers.

Rubio’s endorsement indicates where most of the conservative bloc in America will end up if their state hasn’t voted yet. They are all basically an embodiment of the SNL sketch in which Romney says voters mutter, “Eh, I guess,” before pulling the lever for him.