Endorsements are never a surprise any more. They are usually leaked, sometimes staged at a particular moment to coincide with a policy rollout. With the exception of superstars like New Jersey Gov.Chris Christie and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), most of these are not game-changers. But it’s nice to have a timely nod.
In anticipation of his tax and entitlement speech tomorrow, Perry today snagged the endorsement of former presidential candidate and flat-tax guru Steve Forbes. To a certain generation of Republicans, this is interesting and perhaps reassuring. However, Forbes hasn’t been a household name for some time so it’s not certain how many voters really know who he is. (He endorsed Rudy Giuliani in 2008.)
Perry smartly didn’t overplay this. His brief statement read: “Steve Forbes is a well-known fiscal conservative and provided strong support and advice throughout the process of drafting my economic and jobs plans. I am honored to have Steve’s endorsement of my candidacy for president.”
Far more significant than the endorsement, though, will be Perry’s work product. Is the tax plan bold, specific and credible? And perhaps even more importantly, can he provide particulars on entitlement reform and some realistic proposals for moving us toward a balanced budget? He can put his Social Security gaffes and extreme rhetoric (suggesting the feds shouldn’t be in the entitlement business) behind him by laying out concrete proposals tomorrow. After this buildup, he better deliver.
Meanwhile, Mitt Romney got the endorsement of former New Hampshire governor John Sununu. Outside of New Hampshire, voters may have only a fuzzy recollection of his service in the Bush 41 administration, but in the state it’s one more sign that Romney is running away with the race. I spoke to Sununu on the phone this afternoon. He said, “I had narrowed it down to Romney and Perry.” He cited Romney’s foreign policy speech at the Citadel and his debate performance as key factors. Interestingly, he also pointed to Romney’s decision to keep Massachusetts out of a regional global warming pact.
What would he say about conservatives who didn’t like RomneyCare? Sununu answered, “The important thing is Governor Romney is absolutely committed to repealing ObamaCare.”
I also asked him about the recent back-and-forth between Romney and Perry on immigration. He seemed annoyed with Perry for dredging up the lawn service issue. “It is strange for anyone to be going back to this issue,” he said.
Neither one of these endorsements is going to seal the deal for most voters. But it does suggest both candidates are looking to spruce up their credentials with the base.
In reality, the only way to accomplish that is by performing in the debates, interviews and retail political gatherings, and by presenting compelling policies to create separation from the pack.