Herbert steps from sideline to endorse Mitt Romney
Politics • Herbert says U.S. leader needs "unwavering moral compass."
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Washington • Utah Gov. Gary Herbert endorsed presidential candidate Mitt Romney on Thursday after months of staying on the sidelines in the race in which Herbert's former boss, ex-Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman, was also competing.

With Huntsman now gone from the race, Herbert, a Republican, says it's time to coalesce around "the one GOP candidate who can defeat Barack Obama and get our nation back on the right track."

"We need a leader with an unwavering moral compass," Herbert said in a statement circulated by the Romney campaign. "We need a leader who can offer results, not rhetoric. That candidate is Mitt Romney."

Herbert had resisted endorsing a candidate in the race, though he joked last year that he'd like to see a "Romney-Huntsman" ticket.

"Maybe not necessarily in that order either," he quickly added.

Lt. Gov. Greg Bell had endorsed Romney early on, as had Attorney General Mark Shurtleff and nearly all of the state's Republican lawmakers.

Romney said Thursday he was pleased to have Herbert's support.

"Like Americans all across the country, Utah residents are struggling under President Obama's failed policies and broken promises," Romney said. "As president, I will put in place pro-growth and conservative economic policies that will get Americans working again."

Herbert, who was the lieutenant governor under Huntsman, took over as the state's top executive when Huntsman resigned to take the role of the U.S. ambassador to China.

tburr@sltrib.com