Romney wins key endorsement from Virginia governor

Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell endorsed Mitt Romney on Thursday and will be campaigning with the GOP presidential candidate in South Carolina just a day before the state’s primary.

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In a press release from the Romney campaign, McDonnell called the former Massachusetts governor “a results-oriented conservative.”

"America needs leadership and that's what governors do: they lead," McDonnell said. "Governors actually have to find solutions and bring all parties together in order to get results for their citizens — they can't just sit back and cast votes.”

The GOP candidates have been vying for the Virginia governor’s endorsement, and his name is often mentioned as a potential candidate for vice president.

Many believed McDonnell would endorse his good friend, Rick Perry, but the Texas governor bowed out of the race on Thursday and endorsed Newt Gingrich. Perry never recovered from his early campaign stumbles and failed to make the ballot in Virginia.

“Mitt Romney has been an effective leader his entire life, in business, the Olympics and as governor,” McDonnell continued. “President Obama’s lack of leadership experience is now clear — he has failed to turn around the economy and end the gridlock in Washington. Mitt Romney used his leadership ability in a politically difficult environment to balance the budget every year, cut spending and taxes, and create jobs.”

Romney also pickd up the endorsements of three Texas lawmakers on Friday.

Reps. Kay Granger (R-Tex.), Mike Conaway (R-Tex.) and Pete Olson (R-Tex.) all came out in support of the former Massachusetts governor.

Romney now has the support of 71 active members of Congress. The next closest GOP candidate is Newt Gingrich with nine.

Rick Perry, who dropped out of the race on Thursday and endorsed Gingrich, had 13 at the time he pulled out.

This story was updated at 11:52 am.

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