Citing his "pro-business'' background, Gov. Jan Brewer on Sunday endorsed Mitt Romney for president.
Brewer, who has been courted by the contenders with the state's own primary coming up Tuesday, acknowledged that the former Michigan governor has not exactly generated a lot of passion among supporters. And despite his having fought off challenges from various quarters, he has been seen as the second choice of many Republicans.
"I think I was experiencing the same thing everyone else was,'' Brewer told Capitol Media Services on Sunday.
But she said Romney's performance during last week's debate in Mesa helped cement her belief that he is the logical choice as the party's standard-bearer.
Potentially more significant, Romney's background as a governor -- even of what has been considered a liberal Eastern state -- was important to Brewer.
"He knows what it is to govern a state,'' she said.
But Brewer, who first made her pronouncement on NBC's Meet the Press, said one other factor came into play: She believes Romney is in the best position to oust Barack Obama from the White House.
"He can carry the day,'' she said.
Pollster Earl de Berge said Brewer's action could provide Romney with the bump he needs to take Arizona.
He said a large number of Republicans remain "conflicted'' about who to back. That was supported by the results of polls done by other organizations which showed Romney in a statistical dead heat with Rick Santorum.
"A large number of Republicans remain conflicted about who to back,'' de Berge said.
"Any endorsement will probably do some good,'' he continued. And he said that Brewer's popularity is currently on the upswing.
Her action also comes a day after state Superintendent of Public Instruction John Huppenthal backed Santorum. An aide to Huppenthal said his boss believes that Santorum "shares his values.''
But the question remains over whether any endorsement is too little, too late.
Maricopa County Elections Director Karen Osborne said about half of the estimated 750,000 registered Republicans got early ballots. As of Friday, 212,000 already had been returned.
That does not count those put in the mail on Friday or Saturday which her office will retrieve from the post office today.
Brewer's ballot won't be among them.
The governor said she normally likes to go to the polls. In the 1996 presidential primary, however, she made an exception, marking her early ballot for Texan Phil Gramm.
"And the next day, he dropped out of the race,'' she said. "So I wasted my vote.''
In her interview with Capitol Media Services, Brewer said too much has been made of her decision not to attend Sunday night's dinner at the White House honoring the nation's governors.
Brewer said she is not snubbing the president, even after the highly publicized tiff on the tarmac when Obama came to Arizona and she was photographed with her finger in his face. The two were discussing the accuracy of the governor's portrayal of their 2010 meeting at the White House in her book, "Scorpions for Breakfast.''
"I have other commitments,'' she said. "And I'm going to keep those commitments,'' Brewer continued, declining to elaborate.
"I can't do everything,'' the governor said.
Anyway, the governor said, this is largely a ceremonial affair. Brewer said she intends to be at the White House today for the working session between the governors and the president.
On her endorsement, Brewer said she was not promised anything, laughing off a possible Romney-Brewer ticket and brushing aside the possibility of a cabinet post or even an ambassadorship.
"I'm going to remain as governor,'' she said.