McDonnell called Romney a “results-oriented conservative” who can appeal to Democrats and independents and he told CNBC that his message is that if you want to win the race in November, vote for Mitt Romney.
On Fox News, Governor McDonnell stated that Romney has a proven record in the public and private sector of getting things done and argued that there are only three issues that will really matter in the election………. one being job creation, another being the need to get rid of “this crushing national debt” and finally, leadership. And it is on those issues that McDonnell says Romney can win.
While McDonnell’s support has some value, the most interesting aspect of the endorsement is the timing. It comes one day before what could be a game changing result in the South Carolina Primary. It is pretty clear that the Romney camp, which has mastered much of the art of political campaigning, has begun to sweat and so they decided now was the time to unleash the endorsement of the popular Southern Governor in the hopes that it will help stem the perceived surge that Newt Gingrich is riding as the race in South Carolina wraps up.
In case you haven’t heard, timing is everything and its not any different in politics.
If you recall, back in December, Newt Gingrich flew to the front of the then crowded G.O.P. field. The problem was timing. He peeked too early and in the two weeks leading up to the Iowa Caucuses, he saw that rapid rise to the top erode and ceded ground to Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum. This time, in South Carolina, thanks to Newt’s ability to catch the crest of his wave at just the right moment, combined with a few well timed breezes at his back which consisted of Sarah Palin’s quasi-endorsement, Rick Perry’s suspension of his own campaign and endorsement of Newt’s, and two well executed debate performances, Gingrich looks like he is peaking just in time to be the first one to ride his wave across the Palmetto State finish line. All of these conditions which have been beyond Romney’s control have forced him to play some cards that he has been holding close. In this case, it is obvious that Gingrich’s success has Romney sweating enough to have forced his hand and play the McDonnell card.
How much it will help is questionable.
McDonnell promises to spend the closing hours of the campaign stomping in South Carolina, but Mitt already has the personal and organizational support of South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley and the insularly access to support from the state Party apparatus that comes with her. And at the moment it is not stopping Gingrich from pulling ahead in the latest polls.
In my own estimation, I have concluded that even though McDonnell is a rising conservative star and a positive name to have your on side, in the case of Mitt Romney, McDonnell’s endorsement will actually benefit Newt Gingrich more than Mitt. As the perceived “establishment” candidate, getting the endorsement of another elected “establishment” politician, will help urge still undecided voters from among the large anti-establishment voting bloc, to move more Newt’s way than Mitt’s way.
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