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Giuliani, who slammed Romney in December, now offers lukewarm backing

Rudy Giuliani publicly backed Mitt Romney’s bid for the presidency Monday. But it was just the latest in a string of Romney endorsements that have been so lukewarm they've inspired an online game.

Here’s what the former New York City mayor said on Fox News of the man he ran against in 2008:

If I've got a terrible cancer or something to be operated on -- when I had to be operated on for prostate cancer - I didn't go to the nicest doctor, I went to the best doctor. The guy could have a great personality... and put the knife in the wrong way.

Giuliani added that the notion that Romney isn’t likable is “overdone.” Still, Giuliani’s lukewarm praise won’t do much to change that.

The Morning Joe gang Tuesday morning had some fun with the parade of grudging endorsements. “They’re all getting on board,” said TIME’s Mark Halperin. “And some of them aren’t that happy about it.”

But it’s not surprising that Giuliani’s words of support didn’t seem more heartfelt. After all, as the Morning Joe gang reminded viewers this morning, here’s what he said about Romney on the show back in December (The clip begins with Giuliani saying Newt Gingrich is the "stronger candidate"):

I have never seen a guy … change his positions on so many things so fast, on a dime. He was pro-gun control – fine – and then he becomes a lifetime member of the NRA. He was pro-cap-and-trade. And now he’s against cap-and-trade. He was pro-mandate for the whole country, and then he becomes anti-mandate and takes that page out of his book and republishes the book. I can go on and on.

Mike Barnicle wondered whether the difficulty Republican elites are having in getting excited about Romney might affect his choice of a running mate.

Halperin said that could be another reason to pick Rob Portman. The Ohio senator, who has emerged lately as the trendy pick among Beltway pundits, “has great relationships with the chatterers who are very down on Romney,” said Halperin.

But Joe Scarborough had someone else in mind.

“What about Jeb Bush?” Scarborough asked. “Jeb hasn’t said he won’t do it. This is a guy that automatically brings Florida into your column, and he’s a conservative’s conservative.”

Halperin said the former Florida governor might not be sold on the idea. “I’m not sure he wants to serve as Romney’s number 2,” he said.

But everyone agreed that if he could be persuaded, Jeb would give Romney a boost. “If Mitt Romney thinks he can get him, he’d be a great pick,” said Halperin.

Jeb is certainly popular with Republican elites. But the Obama campaign has signaled that at least part of its strategy will be to tie Romney to President George W. Bush, who remains deeply unpopular. Whatever the differences between George and Jeb, picking the former president’s brother as a running mate would certainly make that task a lot easier.