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Danforth the latest Missouri Republican to back Romney for president

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Dec. 2, 2011 - Former U.S. Sen. John C. Danforth, R-Mo., may be critical of the Republican presidential-selection process, but he's picking a candidate anyway.  Danforth is endorsing former Massachusetts Gov.  Mitt Romney, who has been rolling out a series of prominent Missouri backers this week apparently in preparation for a fundraiser in the area tonight.

Also on the latest list: U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo.

"It is an honor to have Senator Danforth's support," said Romney in a statement. "For his entire life, Senator Danforth has served Missouri and his country with distinction. His values and commitment to American ideals are what all public servants should aspire to replicate."

Says Danforth in the same release: "This election is one of, if not the, most important of my lifetime. Our country faces the possibility of losing our place in the world if our economy fails to restart. Mitt Romney has taken on significant challenges at every moment in his life. Whether it was turning around struggling companies, rescuing the Olympics, or restoring fiscal health in his state as governor, he has proven that he has both the skill and leadership ability to ensure that the United States remains the strongest and most respected nation in the world...."

However, Danforth also has been on the radio criticizing the tone of the GOP presidential contest, saying it has been too negative. He particularly has been critical of the debates.

Meanwhile, the nonpartisan National Journal cites Danforth's support as the latest signal that Romney is heading toward the GOP middle, and away from Christian conservatives, in his bid for the nomination.

Danforth has played a key endorsement role before in the presidential contest. In 2008, he was among a few top Missouri Republicans who endorsed Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., who went on to carry the state in the presidential primary and that November.

UPDATE: St. Louis Democratic Party chairman Brian Wahby fired off a slightly sarcastic release late this afternoon that is in the form of a pretend letter to Romney and seeks to "welcome you to the great state of Missouri."

The letter then asks Romney to answer a series of politically loaded questions, such as:

"1) Millionaires and billionaires don't have to pay their fair share. Why do you support raising taxes on middle-class Americans?"

"3) Your campaign says you are not 'ready' to sit down for a Sunday show. If you are not ready for a few tough interviews, what makes you think you are ready to lead the country?"

Jo Mannies has been covering Missouri politics and government for almost four decades, much of that time as a reporter and columnist at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. She was the first woman to cover St. Louis City Hall, was the newspaper’s second woman sportswriter in its history, and spent four years in the Post-Dispatch Washington Bureau. She joined the St. Louis Beacon in 2009. She has won several local, regional and national awards, and has covered every president since Jimmy Carter. She scared fellow first-graders in the late 1950s when she showed them how close Alaska was to Russia and met Richard M. Nixon when she was in high school. She graduated from Valparaiso University in northwest Indiana, and was the daughter of a high school basketball coach. She is married and has two grown children, both lawyers. She’s a history and movie buff, cultivates a massive flower garden, and bakes banana bread regularly for her colleagues.

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