“Everybody wants it,” Trump, referring to his endorsement, said in a phone interview. “I have millions of people waiting for me to do it.”
Trump’s outsize confidence in himself as both kingmaker and potential king should make any serious presidential candidate wary of being endorsed by him, some political scientists say.
Yet during the past few months, Rick Perry, Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney have made the journey to Trump’s headquarters in New York to seek the The Donald’s blessing.
Even though research shows most endorsements are of limited value to a candidate’s electoral fortunes, office seekers continue to chase them. They tout them in campaign ads and show off their trophy backers at events and news conferences.
But while the support of organizations such as labor unions might translate into money, volunteers and actual votes, University of Virginia political science professor Larry Sabato says, “the vast majority of individual endorsements are worth the vote of the endorser and, about half the time, the endorser’s spouse.”
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Romney, who for much of the year has struggled in the polls, is far ahead in the endorsement derby, having racked up several pledges from high-profile Republicans — including tea party favorites South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley and Delaware senatorial candidate Christine O’Donnell. Meanwhile, for much of the year his frontrunner status has been challenged by a rotating cast of anti-establishment candidates favored by rank-and-file Republicans. A Washington Post-ABC News poll published Dec. 20 showed that, nationally, Romney was tied with Gingrich, with each favored by 30 percent of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents.
“Governor Romney is proud to have the support of a growing number of strong conservative leaders, from Governor Nikki Haley and Governor Chris Christie to important primary state publications such as the Des Moines Register and Portsmouth Herald,” Andrea Saul, the campaign spokeswoman, said in an e-mail.
Gingrich, a former U.S. House speaker, has gotten the endorsements of the state house speakers of Iowa and New Hampshire, the first two primary states, and he has also been tapped by the Manchester Union-Leader in New Hampshire.
John Huntsman has touted the endorsement of Jeb Bush Jr., son of the former Florida governor, nephew of the 43rd president and grandson of the 41st. Rep. Michele Bachmann’s most famous backer so far is conservative activist Phyllis Schlafly. Ron Paul has touted the endorsement of actor Vince Vaughn and the student newspaper at the University of Iowa, the Daily Iowan.