Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney picked up several key endorsements for his bid to become the Republican candidate who will take on US president Barack Obama in 2012.
According to Reuters, Romney stood with New Hampshire Senator Kelly Ayotte on Sunday afternoon, several hours after the Republican senator's decision to endorse him became public.
"There's one person in this field who is prepared to lead the United States of America and that is Mitt Romney," Ayotte told cheering supporters gathered on the city hall steps.
"And, most importantly, there is one person who I know will ensure that Barack Obama is a one-term president and that is Mitt Romney,” he added.
Also yesterday, US Representative Charlie Bass joined Romney's campaign – adding momentum to the growing sense of inevitability that Romney will secure the GOP nomination.
Bass, who served six terms in Congress before losing his re-election bid in 2006 only to win back his seat in 2010, is expected to be appointed as Romney's co-chairman in New Hampshire and to be one of his national advisers.
"Voters in New Hampshire and across our country are looking for a candidate that understands what our economy needs to recover and grow, that has the experience of creating jobs and has the leadership qualities needed to bring the citizens of our nation back together in these challenging times," Bass said in a statement to the local Nashua Telegraph.
"I firmly believe that Mitt Romney is the candidate that will renew our country's faith in the American dream."
Ayotte and Bass are only the latest high-profile additions to an organization that already includes Republican heavyweights like former Senator Judd Gregg and former Governor John H. Sununu.
Observers say Romney's winning the support of Ayotte and Bass should not be underestimated, especially in light of his competitors failing to win similar support of their own.
The real contest for the GOP nomination on January 10, they say, will likely not be for the nomination – but for Romney's vice presidential running mate.