Endorsements can play a large part in the process of nominating a president. As rivals drop out, they will often endorse another candidate, in a sense giving their supporters over to the new candidate. It’s a form of consensus building, really.
The 2012 race is unique, relative to other races, because the key endorsements might all come from people who chose NOT to run in this race. Nearly every candidate wants the endorsement of Sarah Palin, or Chris Christie, or Paul Ryan, among others.
Those notable Republican figures represent significant blocs of voters, in both the primary and in the general electorate. Their support could boost a candidate from the bottom of the pack to the top, or cement a frontrunner’s status as the top candidate.
When New Jersey Governor Chris Christie announced last week that he would not be running for President, he declined to say who he would support in the race. He had, after all, just spent the last few weeks soul-searching and deciding if he really wanted to put forth the effort and energy it takes to even try and get the nomination, let alone win the office.
Christie even went so far as to say this about the process on October 4. “If I feel like there’s someone in the field who gives us the best chance to defeat the president, I’ll endorse that person and I’ll work hard for that person. But I’m not in a position today to make that judgment.”
Apparently, it takes about a week for even the most die-hard Republicans to think most of the presidential candidates are totally insane. Why else would he immediately and unconditionally throw his support behind Romney?
Christie has already said he does not want to be Vice President. Then again, every Vice President and VP candidate has said that since the beginning of America. So perhaps Christie thinks an early endorsement now gets him on the short list for the Vice President slot.
Most likely, in my view, is that Christie intends to run for president in the future. Endorsing Romney now goes a long way toward ensuring Romney’s help when Christie runs. Since Romney is the establishment-favoured candidate, it also buys him a lot of support and good will with the donors and supporters who make up the core of the Republican Party.
It also shows that, politically speaking, Romney is the only candidate who can win a state like New Jersey, where Christie hails from. Romney is the only semi-moderate candidate out there who is running (other than Huntsman, who is at 1 per cent or so). If there were more moderates running, perhaps Christie takes his time deciding among them for his endorsement. Since Romney is the only one, it’s a pretty easy decision to make for Christie.
Among the other bigwigs, so far, Sarah Palin has held off on endorsing anyone. She is almost certain to hold off until a few candidates drop out and it becomes apparent which Tea Party candidate will be the alternative to Mitt Romney, and then endorse that person. If it appears Romney will coast to victory, she will probably go ahead and endorse him. For all her talk about being a kingmaker, Palin is not particularly interested in getting out front of the endorsement game.
All of which is fine by Mitt Romney. He is the establishment choice for president and he has an excellent chance at gaining the nomination. Christie’s endorsement will help immensely toward giving Romney the “unbeatable” aura that can propel him to victory. Romney is certainly well on his way.
— John Thorpe
You can reach the author by email [email protected] or on twitter@johndthorpe.
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