This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Oct. 3, 2011 - WASHINGTON - GOP presidential contender Mitt Romney announced Tuesday that U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., will be his campaign point man on Capitol Hill.
In a news release, Romney said Blunt will lead his "congressional team, spearheading the campaign's efforts to secure the support of Republican members in both the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives."
The announcement by Romney, an early front-runner for the GOP nomination who now faces a tough battle against Texas Gov. Rick Perry, was interpreted by political insiders as an indication that some in the Republican establishment want to rally around Romney as a more viable candidate in a general election against President Barack Obama.
"Our nation faces historic challenges today, and under President Obama's policies, we've witnessed high unemployment, skyrocketing debt, out-of-control spending, and burdensome regulations that have stifled job creation," Blunt said in a statement.
"Through his experience in the private sector and as governor ... Mitt has the right background to help create more economic certainty and spur job growth in Missouri and nationwide, and that's why I'm proud to lead his congressional team."
Blunt also served as a presidential-campaign team leader, while a U.S. representative from Missouri, for George W. Bush's successful 2000 campaign for the Republican nomination.
"It is an honor to have Roy's support," Romney said in a statement. "He has always been a champion of taxpayers and small business owners, and I know that he will be an effective liaison in sharing my vision for America with his colleagues in both the House and the Senate."
Romney, a businessman and a former governor of Massachusetts, said he "look[s] forward to working with Roy as I bring my plan for job creation to Missouri and the rest of the country."
So far, the crowded race for the GOP presidential nomination is dividing Missouri Republicans in Congress. U.S. Rep. Sam Graves, R-Tarkio, is backing Perry and former U.S. Sen. Jim Talent announced earlier this month that he would be a member of Romney's economic policy team. Meanwhile, Rep. Sam Graves, R-Tarkio, has endorsed Texas Gov. Rick Perry for the GOP nomination.