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The G.O.P. is anxious to coalesce around a candidate to defeat Donald Trump

By: Jason Bahr | Vanity Fair - FEBRUARY 22, 2016

Jeb Bush’s resignation from the presidential race has already set off a chain reaction within the G.O.P., with The Huffington Post reporting Mitt Romney is set to endorse Marco Rubio following his strong second-place finish in Saturday’s South Carolina primary. And, according toPolitico, the pressure is already on for Bush to do the same.

Though details of Romney’s endorsement are “still being worked out” as of this morning, sources tell The Huffington Post that Romney has been “eager to provide his backing to Rubio for days” but hesitated out of respect for Bush. His endorsement could come before Tuesday’s G.O.P. caucuses in Nevada, which dedicated Romneyists will recall were twice won by Romney himself.

For his part, though, Rubio doesn’t believe the Romney endorsement is coming anytime soon. “Well, that report is false,” he told CNN of the Romney rumors on Sunday. “I have no reason to believe that he’s anywhere near endorsing anyone. We would love to have his endorsement, but there’s nothing forthcoming. I don’t know where those reports are coming from, but they’re false.”

Should Romney indeed endorse Rubio, his backing would make sense, as he and Rubio have a history: Rubio once made Romney’s VP shortlist, and Rubio once chilled at Romney’s New Hampshire vacation home on the Fourth of July, which is the most Republican sentence that has ever been written. Romney’s seal of approval is key in that it suggests establishment Republican leaders are finally ready to “coalesce” around Rubio, rallying together to defeat the waking nightmare that is Donald Trump’s current front-running status.

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