As had been expected, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) threw his support to Mitt Romney at a campaign event in New Hampshire today, the latest evidence that the Republican establishment is rallying behind the frontrunner.

It’s worth keeping in mind, though, one minor detail: John McCain appears to loathe Mitt Romney. The senator has never liked Romney, and in the 2008 race, could barely contain his contempt for Romney.

It fact, it was exactly four years ago tomorrow that McCain was so disgusted with Romney during a debate, Josh Marshall described it at the time as Romney “being slapped around up there like the dorky kid in the High School locker room.”

Check out this video from early January 2008.

YouTube video

I realize party loyalty probably forced McCain’s hand on this, but it couldn’t have been easy for him to endorse someone he doesn’t like or respect.

Incidentally, the most recent high-profile support Romney has picked up has come from John McCain, Bob Dole, and George H.W. Bush. I have a hunch the Republican base won’t be terribly impressed by the line-up.

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Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.