POSTED: Friday, June 8, 2012 - 2:00am
UPDATED: Saturday, June 16, 2012 - 6:20pm
CNN — Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, tea party favorite and son of presidential candidate Ron Paul, officially endorsed Mitt Romney late Thursday night.
"My first choice had always been my father. I campaigned for him when I was 11-years-old. He's still my first pick, but now that the nominating process is over, tonight I'm happy to announce that I'm going to be supporting Gov. Mitt Romney," Rand Paul said on Fox News.
His announcement came one day after his father acknowledged he would not become the Republican nominee, despite maintaining for months that he would stay in the fight for the White House.
Ron Paul ended his official campaign events weeks ago, but has not technically suspended his candidacy and will have delegates at the Republican National Convention in August.
The endorsement from Rand Paul, who won his 2010 Senate bid with strong tea party support, could be a boost for Romney as the candidate attempts to shore up different factions of the Republican Party, including Ron Paul's vocal and active supporters.
Asked why he was throwing his voice behind Romney, Rand Paul listed off a number of ways his family values and family history line up with that of Romney--including the fact that both he and the candidate have fathers who ran for president. Romney's father, the late George Romney, served as Michigan governor and was a presidential candidate in 1968.
The senator then went on to talk about policies, saying he met with Romney recently in Washington and discussed the candidate's support for reforming the Federal Reserve, limiting regulations, and opposing the proposed Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA). The proposed legislation, which failed to garner enough support in the Senate, called for expanded federal power online in preventing internet piracy.
"I think there's a lot of kinship between us on those issues," he said.
Romney responded Thursday night to the endorsement, saying in a statement he was "honored" to have the senator's backing.
"Senator Paul has been a leading voice in the effort to scale back the size and reach of government and promote liberty," Romney said. "I am grateful for Senator Paul's support and look forward to working with him to get America back on the right track."
CNN's Ashley Killough contributed to this report.
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