November 7, 2007

Brownback Endorsement Goes To McCain

Sam Brownback dated Rudy but married McCain:

Sam Brownback, a Kansas conservative and favorite of evangelical Christians, will endorse his former Republican presidential rival John McCain, GOP officials said Wednesday.

The nod could provide a much-needed boost, particularly in Iowa, for the Arizona senator and one-time presumed GOP front-runner whose bid faltered and who now is looking for a comeback.

Republican officials said Brownback will announce his support for McCain later Wednesday in Dubuque, Iowa, and then travel with the candidate to campaign in two other cities in the state. The officials spoke on the condition of anonymity to avoid publicly pre-empting the announcement.

This seems like a much better match for Brownback than Giuliani, whose leanings on social policy made for a lot of eyebrow-raising when the two met last month. John McCain's positions match up more closely with his Senate colleague.

The endorsement will not have much direct impact on the race. Brownback barely showed up in the polls, and his fundraising all but disappeared in the third quarter. However, it does reinforce McCain's viability as a major candidate, which has seen a Renaissance of late. It also reminds Republicans of McCain's undeniable pro-life voting record, a point that has gotten lost in some of the debate over Mike Huckabee's attraction to the religious voters in the party.

It's good news for McCain, and a wash for Giuliani, who certainly wouldn't have expected a Brownback endorsement in the primaries.

UPDATE: But would Rudy have expected a Pat Robertson endorsement? Chris Cillizza says it's coming -- and I'm not so sure Rudy should welcome it:

Pat Robertson, one of the most influential figures in the social conservative movement, will announce his support for Rudy Giuliani's presidential bid this morning in Washington, D.C., according to sources familiar with the decision.

Robertson's support was coveted by several of the leading Republican candidates and provides Giuliani with a major boost as the former New York City mayor seeks to convince social conservatives that, despite his positions on abortion and gay rights, he is an acceptable choice as the GOP nominee.

It also slows any momentum for Mitt Romney within the social conservative movement. Romney had recently secured the backing of conservative stalwarts Paul Weyrich and Bob Jones III -- endorsements that seemed to strengthen his bid to become the electable conservative alternative to Giuliani. Romney had made no secret of his desire for Robertson's endorsement and has to be disappointed this morning.

The other major effect of Robertson's support for Giuliani is that it will quiet talk in social conservative circles that nominating Giuliani would lead "values voters" to abandon the Republican Party. The stamp of approval from Robertson should assuage the doubts of many (although certainly not all) of the rank-and-file social conservatives.

While I'm certain it will help Giuliani make the sale to some social conservatives, it strikes me as rather bizarre. After all, Robertson inhabited the lunatic-fringe Right for quite some time before he suggested assassinating Hugo Chavez in 2005. It's not exactly the kind of statement that lends itself to an image of practical, tough leadership that Rudy normally projects.

The negative effect on Rudy's standing will be negligible. The better question will be whether Robertson's followers revolt over his endorsement of a pro-choice candidate and finally abandon him to the proverbial crazy-uncle attic. I'd be very surprised if this actually pans out as Cillizza reports -- but he's very reliable on these matters.

UPDATE: In the airport, just heard CNN announce this as well. Very, very strange. The Headline News reporter emphasized Giuliani's three marriages but made no mention of his pro-choice views. This one will have people scratching their heads all week long.


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Chris Cillizza reports this morning that influential Christian conservative Pat Robertson has endorsed Rudy Giuliani: Pat Robertson, one of the most influential figures in the social conservative movement, announced his support for Rudy Giuliani’... [Read More]