#1 Rush Limbaugh:
Jason Branham at South Carolinians for Romney reported that he heard an interesting exchange on Rush's radio show last week:
In other news, I know Rush Limbaugh has almost completely withheld commentary on the ‘08 race. But today he called George Allen the most truly conservative potential ‘08 candidate, then quickly said that Mitt Romney was a CLOSE second. I hope that’s a quick peak into Rush’s mind and an indication that Romney could receive Rush’s backing come campaign time. One thing’s for sure, after his daily McCain bashing, we know Rush isn’t going to be getting behind the senator from Arizona any time soon!
I'd say that's a dang positive sign . . . especially since, despite his solid conservative credentials, Allen has proven to be gaffe-prone ("Macaca-gate" and Jewish ancestry issues). Also, with his controversial history on race-relations he's someone that doesn't stand a very strong chance in a general election . . . imagine the attack ads that the Dems and 527s would be hurling at Allen ad nauseum.
#2 Bill O'Reilly:
(ranked behind Rush only because Limbaugh probably has more influence among staunch conservative Republicans than O'Reilly--who has much more of an independent/libertarian streak)
A couple of weeks ago, O'Reilly said that Mitt Romney is his early favorite. to win the 2008 presidential election over Hillary Clinton
(TRAVERSE CITY) — Fox News commentator Bill O'REILLY told a gathering here today that Massachusetts Gov. and former Michigander Mitt ROMNEY is his early favorite to win the 2008 presidential election over U.S. Sen. Hillary CLINTON (D-N.Y.) in what he sees now as the likely head-to-head race.
Speaking at the Michigan Future Forum, sponsored by the Michigan Chamber of Commerce, O'Reilly said former frontrunner U.S. Sen. John McCAIN (R-Ariz.) will be hurt for his "soft" positions on the terrorist interrogation and border security issues.
The host of the "No Spin Zone" and the "O'Reilly Factor" added that another top-tier Republican candidate, Rudolph GUILIANI, the former New York City mayor, is being hurt by his inability to handle the press and his mushy positions on issues. Former U.S. House Speaker Newt GINGRICH and U.S. Sen. George ALLEN (R-Va.) round out the top five candidates on the GOP side.
But in the last two weeks, O'Reilly said he's seeing a lot of reasons to give Romney an edge.
"He's photogenic. He's articulate. He's got money. New Hampshire likes him. This guy . . . you watch him," O'Reilly said.
That's as close to an endorsement as I've seen from a pundit at this point of the game.
Further, when Bill O'Reilly interviewed Ann Coulter last week on "The Factor" the following exchange occurred:
O'REILLY: Is there anything that could make you vote Democrat? Is there any scenario that you could envision you supporting the Democrat candidate for president?
COULTER: If Zell Miller were running against John McCain.
O'REILLY: You're not a big McCain fan, are you?
COULTER: No. Actually, I don't really like any of our front-runners.
COULTER: I think it's going to be somebody else.
O'REILLY: I think it's going to be Mitt Romney.
COULTER: Actually, of the ones they talk about...he's my favorite. It's somebody out of the blue.
O'REILLY: I think Mitt Romney is the guy on the inside track that very few people know about.
We know about him Bill!
#3 Ann Coulter:
. . . see just above. A conservative "shock jock" (even though she doesn't have her own show). Not the most tactful pundit, but does carry a lot of weight among staunch conservatives. Also, Coulter helps run an influential conservative news source and website--Human Events Online (which in the past hasn't been too friendly to Romney though one of there editors, Ivy Sellers, is a BYU alumnus-that can't hurt)
THE NEXT TIER (hard to rank these):
Frequent pundit (a proclaimed Moderate) on Fox News and Executive Editor of "Roll Call" has frequently had good things to say about Romney. In an opinion piece not too long ago Kondracke liked Romney's policy stances quite a bit.
Conservative Radio Talk show host has long been hosting Romney on his show. He's not "on the record" as endorsing Romney . . . but he sure seems to be quite praiseworthy. It was at Hewitt's suggestion/request that Lowell and John started the Article6Blog.
Just yesterday, Michael Medved (Conservative talk Radio host) was inteviewing John Halpern about his book, "The Way to Win", and Medved had this to say about Romney:
“We’re talking with Mark Halpern, the author of “The Way to Win: Taking the White House in 2008” and political director of ABC News. One thing about your book that I mentioned, I was struck by something that isn’t in there. You talked about the likely Hillary Rodham Clinton race for the Presidency in 2008, but nowhere in your book, and I checked the index, do you mention the name of the gentleman I believe to be the most likely next President, and I’m wondering if that’s a conscious omission. I happen to believe that…it’s obviously a long way to 2008, but I think that Mitt Romney, Governor of Massachusetts, is a likely Republican nominee and winner.”
Prominent Talk Radio host (3rd most listened to talk show in America among Adults 25-54) and has a nightly show TV show on CNN's Headline News.
On his TV show he recently opined:
Well, today the real story is that someone with actual power and intelligence agrees with me. Mitt Romney, the governor of Massachusetts. He issued a statement saying, quote, "State taxpayers should not be providing special treatment to an individual who supports violent jihad and the destruction of Israel. For him to lecture Americans about tolerance and violence is propaganda, pure and simple."
Thank you, Mitt Romney. Finally someone besides a radio talk show -- a clown basically saying what the rest of America is thinking. If you want to know the truth, don`t listen to Harvard which calls the speech quote, "a free exchange of ideas."
Listen to Mitt Romney who says that Khatami is nothing more, quote, "than a wolf in sheep`s clothing," end quote. A wolf that we are allowing to walk right into the hen house. Mitt Romney will be on my radio program tomorrow morning to talk about this, and we`ll of course keep our eye on the rest of the Khatami visit and update you as things develop.
Also, it probably doesn't hurt that Beck is LDS (baptized convert in 2000)
Laura Ingraham (and Bob Novak?):
As reported at the Article6Blog . . .
I happened to be listening Laura Ingraham's show this morning during the second hour, about 40 minutes ago. In an interview with Robert Novak, Laura brought up Dobson's comments yesterday [that he thinks many Evangelicals will not end up voting for Romney because he's Mormon]. Going from memory, here's what I recall:
Laura expressed shock at Dobson's comments. She said she had received a great deal of e-mail from conservative Christians expressing strong disagreement with Dobson, saying "we love Romney."
She mentioned Novak's column. Novak said that there were a number of "respectable," well-known, and prominent evangelical leaders who are privately telling him the same thing Dobson was saying. I do not recall if he said those evangelicals told him that they personally would have trouble supporting Romney. Nor did he say if those statement were recent, or dated back to his April 27 column. I believe he used the present tense, as in, "they are telling me." Novak said those people "would blow your head off" if you revealed what they had privately said about evangelical support for Romney. Novak said rather forcefully that he thinks this is "un-American."
Novak also opined that Romney needs to address this issue– something we have also said many times.
Laura said that "we can't have this," or words to that effect. Novak said that with George Allen faltering, Romney was shaping up to be the conservative Republican standard-bearer for 2008, and that the campaign must not be a "theological debate." Laura heartily agreed.
Others that keep saying nice things about Romney are K-Lo (Kathrine Lopez--the editor in cheif at National Review Online), David Frum (the guy who came up with the "Axis of Evil" title/strategy for Bush) here and here, and Doug Wilson, the CHAIRMAN of Townhall.com (great conservative site where he recently wrote an Op/Ed titled "Mitt Romney for President?" that is pretty darn praiseworthy of our favorite candidate!)
In a different vein, David Yepsen and David Broder are two influential political reporters for presidential races for the MSM that seem pretty high on Romney.
Any others I missed?