Mitt Romney waded into the contentious Republican Senate primary in Florida Wednesday and endorsed Rep. Connie Mack as his party's nominee.
"Connie Mack is a friend, a strong conservative and the type of principled leader we need in Washington to restore fiscal responsibility," Romney said in a statement. "By electing Connie Mack, the people of Florida will be sending a clear message to Senator Nelson and President Obama that their failed policies have not worked to change the borrow and spend ways of Washington."
Mack—whose father, Connie Mack III, served as a Florida senator in the '90s—has been locked in a fierce primary battle with former Sen. George LeMieux in the race to take on Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson this fall.
LeMieux was appointed senator in the fall of 2009 to replace Sen. Mel Martinez, who resigned. When Martinez's term was up the next year, LeMieux declined to run for his seat.
LeMieux has faced fire from Mack and other opponents who paint him as a RINO (Republican In Name Only) for being appointed by then-Gov. Charlie Crist—a moderate whose popularity plummeted in the state amid a failed bid for Senate and a party switch to independent in 2010—and for working across the aisle in the Senate.
Mack has been endorsed by Rep. Michele Bachmann, Sen. Rand Paul, the American Conservative Union and other groups.
Herman Cain, former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, multiple past and current Florida lawmakers and other politicians have lined up behind LeMieux.
Mike McCalister, a businessman and Army veteran, is one of the many additional candidates also running for the GOP nomination in the race. The primary is Aug. 14.
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