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THE RACE: GOP endorsements slow to a trickle as Romney nears delegate target; some are tepid
As Mitt Romney closes in on nailing down the Republican presidential nomination, endorsements from prominent Republicans are slowing to a trickle. And some endorsements come with noticeable reservations.
That's because most top Republicans have already endorsed him. And those who haven't probably don't plan to.
Some endorsements have been tepid. Former President George W. Bush, commenting publicly for the first time on the subject, told a reporter "I'm for Mitt Romney" as the doors of his elevator closed in Washington, D.C. on Tuesday.
Polls show Bush still gets a lot of the blame for the poor economy, so it's not clear how his endorsement cuts. Romney is mostly faulting President Barack Obama for the hard times, a theme he sounded again on Wednesday in St. Petersburg, Fla.
After primaries Tuesday in Oregon and Nebraska, Romney was just 155 delegates shy of the 1,144 needed to win the GOP presidential nomination. He should get there later this month.
Former rival Rick Santorum quit campaigning April 10 but only endorsed Romney last week in a late-night email to supporters. Even then, the conservative former Pennsylvania senator said "clear differences" remain between them.
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich didn't endorse the former Massachusetts governor when he quit but later said "I'll do everything I can" to help elect him. "As far as I'm concerned, I've endorsed him," Gingrich added.
After endorsing Romney, Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels criticized his "slash-and-burn" style of campaigning. New York Gov. George Pataki mixed his endorsement with an observation that, "Now, Mitt is not a perfect candidate. He has a number of problems."
Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, stopped active campaigning, but without an endorsement. He indicated he was still seeking delegates.
Obama met Wednesday with small business leaders, then lawmakers of both parties. Vice President Joe Biden, campaigning in Ohio, slammed "Romney economics."
Follow Tom Raum on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/tomraum. For more AP political coverage, look for the 2012 Presidential Race in AP Mobile's Big Stories section. Also follow https://twitter.com/APCampaign and AP journalists covering the campaign: https://twitter.com/AP/ap-campaign-2012.