Jim Young / Reuters
Sources close to the Romney campaign said Congresswoman Michele Bachmann is expected to endorse the Republican presidential hopeful at a campaign event on Thursday sources close to the campaign say.
Orlando, Fla. and Pentagon City, Va. – Michele Bachmann will endorse Mitt Romney during a campaign event Thursday in Portsmouth, Virginia, sources within the Romney campaign told NBC News.
The news comes at the tail end of a string of endorsements secured by Romney in recent weeks, following the departure of his chief rival in the race, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum.
Party leaders, including House Speaker John Boehner, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, and Texas Gov. Rick Perry – a former fellow candidate – all soon fell in line.
But Bachmann’s endorsement may represent another kind of victory for Romney, who has tried for months to woo support from the same Tea Party Republicans who found a hero in Bachmann last summer, propelling her own brief run for President.
In Bachmann, he has one of their leaders in his corner.
Bachmann’s former campaign manager, Keith Nahigian, insists the endorsement is outside the realm of politics, pointing to a friendship that developed between the two candidates last fall.
“She really liked Romney during all the debates. Really liked him behind the stage, behind the scenes,” Nahigian said. “He was so polite to her every time they saw each other.”
Nahigian was reached by telephone tonight as he left a fundraiser for Romney at the Ritz-Carlton hotel in Pentagon City.
“Ever since she got out of the race, he’s called her,” Nahigian said.
For Bachmann, the endorsement represents the end of a journey from fiery presidential candidate slinging arrows at the establishment to self-described unifier.
“I want my voice to be one of uniting our party, the independents, the mainstream, the conservatives, evangelicals, the Tea Party movement,” she said during a recent appearance on NBC’s ‘Meet the Press.’"
“I’m waiting,” Bachmann said, “for our party to come together and help in that process.”
That moment seems to have arrived.
The mission to unify her party was not always evident during Bachmann’s run, when she made headlines for asserting Romney and another high-soaring candidate at the time, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, were each complicit in laying the groundwork for President Barack Obama’s national health care plan.
Bachmann created a single moniker for the candidates – “Newt Romney” – and during a bus tour in late December warned crowds that neither candidate could mount an attack on the issue.
“It's not going to happen with Mitt Romney,” Bachmann told a crowd inside a diner in Onawa, Iowa, on Dec. 27th.
“He put that system into effect in Massachusetts,” she continued, referencing the health care plan he launched as Governor in 2006.
Bachmann dropped out of the race on Jan. 4, a day after finishing last among the candidates competing in the Iowa caucuses.