Tales from the Trail

Maybe it’s better not to get that big endorsement

One staple of the U.S. political scene is the quest for endorsements, and Republican front-runner Mitt Romney seems to be leading in the race for support from the GOP establishment.

He picked up the support of Arizona Senator John McCain, who was the 2008 Republican presidential nominee, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley and Tim Pawlenty, the former governor of Minnesota, who also was a member of the U.S. presidential field until August.

He may not be part of the party “establishment,” but Romney even got the backing of a high-profile party figure — albeit one who declared himself an independent in December — reality television star and real estate mogul Donald Trump, who called the former Massachusetts governor “tough, sharp and smart.”

But does such support really help?

“At best, so far that’s gotten him mixed results,” Republican strategist Keith Appell said, when asked about Romney’s support by party leaders. “Nikki Haley didn’t help in South Carolina. Tim Pawlenty did not help him in Minnesota.”

Prominent supporters can act as useful surrogates. Backers might pay to attend a fundraiser headlined by a well-known supporter, and voters might turn out to hear one speak.

Haley not ready to pick 2012 Republican favorite

An endorsement from South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley, a favorite of the Tea Party movement, could give a boost to the  Republican presidential candidate of her choice.

But in an interview with CNN on Thursday she said it’s too soon to pick a favorite in the campaign for the 2012 Republican presidential nominee.

“What I have told everybody is now is the time where we need to weigh in on asking them the hard questions,” she said. “This is the time we really need to be doing a lot of the listening to what their details are and what their specifics are and waiting to weigh in until we can really see what the full platform looks like.”

Who’s afraid of Mitt and T-Paw…

It turns out that Mitt Romney and Tim Pawlenty are the scariest pair of presidential prospects in the GOP field today, judging from a new Democratic ad and remarks by some Democratic Party hierophants.

Priorities USA Action, a political group founded by two former aides to President Barack Obama, targets Romney as a flip-flopper in a South Carolina TV ad that wields Republican Paul Ryan’s Medicare reforms like a political cudgel.

The 30-second black-and-white spot begins with Newt Gingrich’s “Meet the Press” remarks opposing what he called radical right-wing social engineering on Medicare. The ad then recounts Republican South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley’s defense of Ryan before turning finally to Romney: “Mitt Romney says he’s ‘on the same page’ as Paul Ryan … but with Mitt Romney, you have to wonder: which page is he on today?”