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'Right leader at the right time': Mitt Romney nets key endorsement

GOP hopefuls Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich have begun to engage each other with gentle jabs, suggesting they now see the nomination as a two-man race. Meanwhile, Herman Cain tried to rally enough support to stay in the race. NBC's Lisa Myers has more.

By Jo Ling Kent, NBC News

BEDFORD, N.H. -- With just six weeks to go until the first-in-the-nation primary, Mitt Romney added another key Granite State endorsement to his column Wednesday night. New Hampshire State Senate President Peter Bragdon endorsed the former Massachusetts governor, calling Romney the "right leader at the right time."

Bragdon, a former math teacher and state house representative, joins eight other Republican state senators supporting Romney. Republicans currently hold 19 of the state senate's 24 total seats.

"He is head and shoulders above the rest of the Republican field and clearly the strongest candidate to take on President Obama in 2012," Bragdon said of Romney in a statement to NBC News.

The Obama campaign could not be happier about the latest sparring between the GOP candidates. MSNBC's Lawrence O'Donnell gets analysis from Republican strategist Rich Galen, a former aide to Newt Gingrich and editor of mullings.com.

Bragdon added that Romney has "the experience, skills and background required to address the economic challenges facing our country today."

Romney recently earned the support of Senator Kelly Ayotte and Rep. Charlie Bass, two of the three Republicans in the New Hampshire Congressional delegation. He also won the backing of former White House Chief of Staff and New Hampshire Governor John Sununu along with former Senator Judd Gregg.

With Herman Cain all but gone, Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich are quickly battling for frontrunner status. MSNBC's Martin Bashir, Democratic strategist Karen Finney, Politico's Ken Vogel and Prof. Michael Eric Dyson discuss.


However, several key New Hampshire endorsements remain up for grabs. Rep. Frank Guinta has yet to back a GOP candidate. Manchester Mayor Ted Gatsas, State House Speaker Bill O'Brien and GOP candidate for governor Ovide Lamontagne have not declared their support yet either.

However, endorsements by key leaders in New Hampshire do not always yield victory by the candidate in question. In 2008, Romney also held a significant number of endorsements in New Hampshire government, but went on to lose the primary and nomination to John McCain.