“At the time, John McCainJohn McCainSenate committee to vote Monday on Tillerson Trump fails to mention Clinton in inaugural address Hillary Clinton under microscope at inauguration MORE did not have the delegates he needed to clinch the nomination but he was clearly on a path to doing that. The math was very challenging for Mitt Romney. And he made the decision that at that time, the country being at war in Iraq, it was important for John McCain to begin to rally the party behind him so he could prepare himself for the fall election campaign," Fehrnstrom said.
"Mitt Romney stepped aside. Now, in Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich, these are both decent, honorable men who have run good campaigns. They are good Americans. They are good Republicans. And ultimately, I’m confident they'll make a decision that's not only right for their party, but right for them.”
The campaign also circulated an interview with Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) in which the Tea Party favorite seemingly called on the party to coalesce around Romney's campaign.
"I don't have any immediate plans to do an endorsement but I think we all need to look at this presidential primary and encourage the candidates to do a little self-reflection here — what's good for our country. The sooner we can make a decision, I think the sooner we can focus on the real problem which is Obama," DeMint said, according to CNN. "They can drag it out to the convention if they want, but I think if some of them look at where they are the best thing they can do is maybe look at throwing their support behind the one who might be our nominee and that's beginning to look like Romney.”
And in introducing her husband at an election-night rally in Illinois, Ann Romney echoed the theme.
"We need to send a message that it's time to coalesce," she said. "It's time to get behind one candidate and get the job done so we can move on to the next challenge, bringing us one step closer to defeating Barack ObamaBarack ObamaCelebrity chef: Trump inauguration copied my cake for Obama Five takeaways from Trump's inauguration Michael Reagan: Trump's fighting words rattle Washington MORE."
The increased pressure represents a pivot from earlier in the campaign cycle, when Romney and his campaign had been reluctant to encourage his opponents to exit the race. But the Romney campaign believes it now has a clear and unmountable delegate lead, and is hoping to signal that it's resources would be better spent on a general election battle than over a drawn out primary.