Grace Wyler/Business Insider
LAS VEGAS — What started as a relatively quiet day on the campaign trail turned into a veritable Vegas spectacular when Donald Trump popped up here today to bestow a surprise endorsement on a very reluctant Mitt Romney.The announcement, staged at Trump’s downtown Las Vegas hotel, was clearly orchestrated for the benefit of The Donald, rather than for the presidential candidate. As reporters and tourists descended on the lobby, the reality television star strutted around his resort, basking in the free media limelight.
Romney, meanwhile, was nowhere to be found.
The endorsement itself was actually kind of an afterthought. The announcement lasted less than seven minutes, and basically consisted of Trump telling his candidate to “go out and get em,'” while Romney desperately looked around for the quickest exit.
“There are some things you just can’t imagine happening in your life,” Romney said. “This is one of them.”
In the end, Trump’s support will probably do nothing to help the Republican frontrunner in Nevada this weekend, and could end up doing Romney a lot more harm than good in the long run. Democrats have already started coming up with “You’re Fired!” jokes, and Ron Paul’s campaign sent out an email mocking Trump for donating money to Nevada’s Democratic Senator Harry Reid.
All of which begs the question: What kind of presidential frontrunner lets the race get hijacked by a combed-over reality TV hack trying to promote his casino? Romney has staked his candidacy on being the adult in the race, so it seems like a bad move to start pandering to weird celebrities now.
I suspect, however, that Trump’s endorsement was a necessary evil for Romney. Given the timing of the announcement — in the leadup to the Nevada caucuses, when the nation’s eyes are on Las Vegas — it seems plausible that Trump was going to endorse this week, regardless of who was on the receiving end. This would also help explain the initial confusion over whether endorsement was for Gingrich or Romney.
Of course, this is all speculation. But if it was the case, Romney’s choice would have been accept the endorsement, or see it go to Gingrich. While Trump won’t do much for Romney, his endorsement could have been the morale boost Gingrich needs to come back from the political grave yet again. After spending two weeks and millions of dollars to push Gingrich to the brink of collapse, it’s probably smart for Romney not to risk it.
NOW WATCH: Briefing videos
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.