Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) said Thursday that he was "excited" about the possibility of Mitt Romney becoming the GOP presidential nominee, and suggested that the best thing for his rivals to do would be to drop out and swing their support behind the former Massachusetts governor.
"I can tell conservatives from my perspective is that, I'm not only comfortable with Romney, I'm excited about the possibility of him possibly being our nominee," DeMint said. "Again, this is not a formal endorsement and I do not intend to do that right now but I just think we just need to look at where we are."
Romney met with DeMint earlier on Capitol Hill Thursday as part of a trip to see other Republicans in Congress.
"I don't have any immediate plans to do an endorsement but I think we all need to look at this presidential primary and encourage the candidates to do a little self-reflection here -- what's good for our country," said DeMint. "The sooner we can make a decision, I think the sooner we can focus on the real problem which is Obama."
DeMint also cautioned Romney's rivals against taking the race to the convention. "They can drag it out to the convention if they want, but I think if some of them look at where they are the best thing they can do is maybe look at throwing their support behind the one who might be our nominee and that's beginning to look like Romney."
DeMint's show of support for Romney is notable since the senator has influence among conservatives, whom Romney has sometimes struggled to win over. The South Carolina senator runs a powerful PAC, the Senate Conservatives Fund, that backs conservative candidates in senate primaries.
DeMint endorsed Romney in the 2008 Republican primary, but has withheld an endorsement in the 2012 primary.
DeMint's comments came one day after former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R) endorsed Romney and urged Republicans to unite behind him.