4:09 p.m. | Updated House Speaker John A. Boehner of Ohio formally endorsed Mitt Romney as the Republican presidential nominee on Tuesday, throwing the weight of his office behind Mr. Romney, a former Massachusetts governor, roughly a month before the candidate can amass the delegates necessary to make it official.
”It is clear now that Mitt Romney is going to be our nominee,” Mr. Boehner said at a news conference that followed his weekly meeting with the House Republican Conference. ”I think Mitt Romney has a set of economic policies that can put Americans back to work and, frankly, contrast sharply with the failed economic policies of President Obama.”
Mr. Boehner promised to do ”everything I can to help him win.”
Later in the day, under questioning from reporters, Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican leader in the Senate, also said he was backing Mr. Romney.
”Yeah, I support Governor Romney for president of the United States,” Mr. McConnell said. ”And he is going to be the nominee. And as you have noticed, the party is in the process of unifying behind him. And I think it’s going to be an incredibly close, hard-fought race. Everybody is banding — bandying polls around, but just look at the Gallup tracking poll yesterday actually had Governor Romney with a two-point lead. I think it’s going to be a very, very competitive election. We’re all behind him and looking forward to the fall campaign, which is actually already under way.”
By tradition, the presumed nominee comes to Capitol Hill to rally the Republican troops once the delegate totals are secured. Because of an elongated primary calendar, that ceremony is likely to wait until May, Congressional liaisons said last week. In the meantime, the campaign is carefully coordinating and rolling out endorsements to show a unified Republican front.
Mr. Boehner had remained studiously neutral even as his lieutenants threw their lots in with the candidates. Representative Eric Cantor of Virginia, the House majority leader, endorsed Mr. Romney on March 4, ahead of the Virginia primary.
Mr. Romney’s embrace of the House passed budget plan, which sets an ambitious course to cut the size of government and lower personal and corporate income tax rates has put the presumptive nominee in sync with House Republicans on the issues they believe will shape the election – deficits, taxes and federal spending.
But on some smaller issues, he has strayed. Mr. Romney has vowed to declare China a currency manipulator on his first day in office and draw up punitive tariffs, a move Republican leaders say would start a damaging trade war. Last week, his campaign said Mr. Romney would not change a Democratic law easing lawsuits claiming unequal pay for women, legislation Mr. Boehner has denounced as a ”bonanza” for trial lawyers.
This is a more complete version of the story than the one that appeared in print.