By Frank Phillips, Globe Staff
Joseph D. Malone, the former Republican Massachusetts state treasurer who backed Rudy Giuliani for president, is following the lead of the former New York City mayor and endorsing US Senator John McCain's campaign for the GOP nomination.
Malone said today that he decided against throwing his support to Mitt Romney because he feels McCain's experience in foreign affairs and his background in other national public policy issues far outweigh the former governor's credentials.
''Mitt is not at the presidential level yet,'' Malone said, two days after McCain won the Florida primary and emerged as the front-runner in the race. Giulani announced Wednesday he is dropping out of the race and endorsed the Arizona senator.
Another Bay State Republican, former Governor Paul Cellucci, who had endorsed Giulani, said yesterday that he has not made a decision what to do now that the former New York mayor halted his campaign. ''I want to talk to Rudy before I make a decision,'' he said.
Cellucci is not expected to endorse Romney, according to those who have talked with him since the Florida primary this week. His and Malone's rejection of Romney's candidacy reflect the division within the Massachusetts Republican leadership that are hurting Romney as he works carry the state in Tuesday's primary election. Former acting Governor Jane Swift, another Republican, endorsed McCain early in the campaign.
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Glen Johnson is Politics Editor at boston.com and lead blogger for "Political Intelligence." He moved to Massachusetts in the fourth grade, and has covered local, state, and national politics for over 25 years. E-mail him at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @globeglen.