By Sterling C. Beard and Mario Trujillo - 09/20/12 10:00 AM EDT
A handful of Republican lawmakers are declining to endorse Mitt Romney for president.
The main holdouts are Reps. Ron Paul (Texas), Walter Jones (N.C.) and Justin Amash (Mich.). Both Jones and Amash endorsed Paul’s 2012 bid for the White House.
One other GOP congressman, Rep. Morgan Griffith (Va.), supports Romney, but has stopped short of endorsing him.
Griffith’s campaign manager said the lawmaker doesn’t endorse as a matter of principle and instead lets the voters decide.
[Editor's note: After this article was published, Griffith's campaign contacted The Hill to say the congressman fully supports and endorses Romney.]
Amash draws a distinction between supporting and endorsing.
“Rep. Amash endorsed Ron Paul for president and will not be making any other endorsements for president,” said Will Adams, a spokesman for Amash. “He has said from the beginning that he would support the Republican nominee against President Obama.”
Over the last couple of months, The Hill contacted every Republican lawmaker who did not endorse Romney in the GOP primary or who had not publicly embraced his candidacy.
Other than the four members detailed in this article, all other House and Senate Republicans have endorsed Romney.
That includes Sen. Dick Lugar (R-Ind.), who lost his primary against Richard Mourdock. A campaign ad employed by Mourdock called Lugar “President Obama’s favorite Republican.”
Lugar’s communications director said the Indiana senator “supports the Republican ticket across the board, including Romney and now the Romney-Ryan ticket.”
Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.) on Wednesday did not directly answer a question from The Hill about whether he still supports Romney following the nominee’s remarks that 47 percent of people depend on government and would back Obama, though Brown’s campaign later said the senator continues to support Romney.
Rep. Richard Hanna (R-N.Y.), a centrist who has opposed his party on a number of social issues, is now endorsing Romney. Asked a few weeks ago whether he is supporting the Romney-Ryan ticket, Hanna told The Daily Star, “I haven’t given it a lot of thought.”
Justin Stokes, chief of staff for Hanna, stated in an email that Hanna supports Romney for president. Pressed on whether that constitutes an endorsement, Stokes responded, “Yes. It’s the same thing.”
The Hill’s tracking of Romney’s endorsements shows that both centrists and conservatives have aligned behind his candidacy. Factions of the right have grumbled about Romney at various times in the 2012 race.
Romney’s campaign did not comment for this article.
Obama does not have every Democratic member behind his reelection effort. For example, two North Carolina Democrats, Reps. Larry Kissell and Mike McIntyre, have refrained from endorsing Obama’s bid for a second term. Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), who is up for reelection this year, wouldn’t say if he voted for the president in his state’s Democratic primary earlier this year.
In an interview with The Hill, Jones said he will vote for Romney over Obama, but explained his rationale for not publicly endorsing the former governor.
This summer, the Romney campaign asked Jones to meet with volunteers for the White House hopeful in North Carolina. Jones balked, saying he couldn’t do that until he had more answers on Romney’s war policies.
Jones, a critic of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, told The Hill, “I can’t publicly endorse a candidate who would not follow the Constitution and go to Congress to declare war.”
Citing polls, Jones said Obama and/or Romney would get a boost in the presidential race if they committed to getting U.S. troops out of Afghanistan in the spring of 2013. Both presidential nominees have indicated they will withdraw troops at the end of 2014.
“I think 2014 will slip into 2015,” Jones said on the House floor last week.
Republican convention organizers offered Paul a speaking slot in Tampa, Fla., on the condition that he fully endorse Romney and allow his speech to be vetted. Paul refused.
“It wouldn’t be my speech,” Paul told The New York Times last month. “That would undo everything I’ve done in the last 30 years. I don’t fully endorse him for president.”
Neither Paul nor Jones endorsed Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) in 2008. Amash and Griffith were not serving in Congress at the time.
Paul’s son, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), endorsed his father before formally backing Romney in June.
Romney has more party support than McCain did in 2008. That year, 14 GOP lawmakers failed to endorse McCain, while half of that group said they “supported” the nominee.
According to Alan Lichtman, a professor of history at American University, the difference in support is due in part to Obama’s status as an incumbent.
“In 2008, McCain supporters did not have a sitting Democratic president to target,” Lichtman said in an email to The Hill. “Obama seems to have sparked singularly strong opposition among Republicans and some independents.”
That extends to GOP lawmakers as well, Lichtman says.
“Given the predominantly right-wing complexion of the Republican congressional delegation, they are also driven by their contempt for the president,” he added.
Bob Cusack contributed to this article, which was updated on Sept. 20 at 9:12 a.m.