Jae C. Hong, File, Associated Press
FILE - In this April 2, 2012, file photo, then Republican presidential candidate former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum speaks in Shawano, Wis.

SALT LAKE CITY — Rick Santorum's reluctant endorsement of Mitt Romney Friday night did not fool many observers. In the 13th paragraph of a 16-paragraph statement, he finally got it out.

“Above all else, we both agree that President Obama must be defeated. The task will not be easy. It will require all hands on deck if our nominee is to be victorious. Governor Romney will be that nominee, and he has my endorsement and support to win the most critical election of our lifetime.”

Joe Scarborough at MSNBC was not impressed, The Hill reported. "This is bush league. If you don't want to endorse him, don't endorse him. That's fine. People will respect him for not endorsing him. Again, this is like Obama on gay marriage. Don't try to have it both ways. Don't endorse in the 13th paragraph. Be a man."

"If somebody gave me this type of endorsement and it were my convention coming up, I would tell them they would have a speaking role but it would be in that cage where the protesters are gonna be 11 blocks away," Scarborough added.

"I wouldn't let a guy like this anywhere near the stage, and I would let him know that right now," Scarborough said. "Now you've got a couple of months if you want to play ball, but if you don't, that's fine. You want to be a rabble-rouser, go ahead, but it's my party now."

On "The Tonight Show" Tuesday night, Santorum tried unconvingly to suggest that the late Friday night statement was meant to garner more attention. “We decided to put it out late at night so it would be sort of the first thing people would see in the morning,” he told Jay Leno, the Christian Science Monitor reported.

On MSNBC, Al Sharpton cued up a collection of petulant young children being dragged into endorsing Romney so they could go to the party in Tampa.

Romney would probably rather take Santorum's much more enthusiastic 2008 endorsement, given at a time when Romney was the conservative alernative to centrist maverick John McCain.

Eric Schulzke writes on national politics for the Deseret News. He can be contacted at eschulzke@desnews.com.