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Kristin Murphy, Deseret News archives
Senator Mike Lee speaks during the investiture ceremony for the new U.S. Attorney, David B. Barlow, at the Frank E. Moss Courthouse in Salt Lake City on Friday, Dec. 9, 2011.

Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, announced Monday he is endorsing Mitt Romney's candidacy for president of the United Sates.

"If Republicans want to repeal President Obama’s unconstitutional health care plan, restore limited government and individual liberty, they must unite behind Mitt Romney," Lee said via press release. "He is the one candidate who will be able to win in November and implement policies that conservatives like me have been fighting for in the Senate. … I support Mitt Romney and urge my fellow constitutional conservatives to support him as the nominee of our party.”

CNN's Political Ticker blog noted, "Lee, a popular figure in the tea party movement, will be the first member of the Senate Tea Party Caucus to endorse the former Massachusetts governor. Romney previously received the support of most of the Utah congressional delegation, including Sen. Orrin Hatch and Representatives Jason Chaffetz and Rob Bishop."

Democrats found a certain level of irony in Lee's choice to endorse Romney, going so far as to issue a negative statement that was subsequently picked up by a blog post at the political news website Talking Points Memo. In that statement the Democratic National Committee wrote, "Just two years after basing his insurgent campaign for Senate against Republican Sen. (Bob) Bennett’s vote for TARP (Troubled Asset Relief Progam), which he called the ‘largest redistribution of wealth ever encapsulated in one piece of legislation,’ Sen. Mike Lee is endorsing the TARP-supporting Mitt Romney for president.”

Also Monday, Romney earned the endorsement of California's Rep. Kevin McCarthy, the House Majority Whip who ranks third in the GOP's House leadership. USA Today reported, "Mitt Romney today picked up another high-profile endorsement of a key GOP congressional leader, tapping House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy to be a campaign chairman in California."