Associated Press
Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney campaigns during a stop on Thursday, Dec. 29, 2011 in Ames, Iowa.

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DES MOINES, Iowa — Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad has endorsed front-runner Mitt Romney's bid for the Republican presidential nomination.

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Branstad says at a statehouse news conference Tuesday that it's become clear that Romney will be the party's nominee. The Iowa governor adds that it's time for all Republicans to unite behind the former Massachusetts governor and focus on the fall campaign against President Barack Obama.

Branstad had remained neutral throughout the campaign for Iowa's leadoff caucuses and the primary season so far. He praised the other GOP candidates but said he'll work for Romney.

The governor says he hasn't spoken to Romney directly about the endorsement but is eager to begin campaigning for him. He says his interest only goes as far as November and helping Republicans win the general election.