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Monday, December 17, 2007

What a Confusing Endorsement . . . Steve King for Thompson (and against everyone else but Romney)--Updates #1 and #2 Added

Wow . . . sounds like he wrote his endorsement to be for Romney, but made his choice for Thompson. I'm a bit baffled.

It's really weird. First, he goes through and strikes candidates off his list:

On McCain:
McCain remains an active proponent of comprehensive amnesty which puts our national sovereignty at stake.
On Rudy:
His positions on life and marriage do not square with a promise to appoint “strict constructionist” judges. The former mayor of a sanctuary city would be unlikely to put an end to sanctuary cities, let alone bring operational control to the border and shut off the jobs magnet.
On Huckabee:
But Huckabee has been forceful and even judgmental in voicing his conviction to give scholarships to illegal immigrants. Just one amnesty policy, and there are others, destroys the chance to reestablish the Rule of Law. How can Huckabee answer to the sons and daughters of veterans or veterans themselves who come back from the war to find that illegals have desks in classrooms at a discount prohibited to them? Compassionate conservatism run amok is hard to harness, as we have seen. The Rule of Law cannot be reestablished without “tough love”. Our destiny pivots on amnesty.
Next he lists Thompson with quite a few praises, but with these critiques:

Thompson, like Bush, would need help with appointments. He needs to really want to be president.
I'm sure all the reporters and Romney people in the room thought it was in the bag for Romney at this point. Especially when he started to bring up religion:

The cultural calamity toward which we are headed is the focus of my life. I believe America was founded by Christians and that the broad core of our culture is Christian, founded in Judaeo-Christian values. I do not believe America, or the American Presidency, is closed to other faiths, let alone other Christian faiths. I believe our destiny as a nation is in the hands of God, but as individuals we have free will. Some are so passionate in their beliefs that they believe they have the market cornered on salvation. In fact, if we didn’t believe our faith was the true faith, there would be no reason for competing denominations. God only knows if any of us are right, but each of us justly believe we are.
Then he goes on:

That candidate also has to have the fire in his belly to go the distance and the brains and resources to get there.

That candidate also meets the test of life and marriage, judges and borders. That candidate has taken solid, persistent, and principled positions consistent with the Republican platform-which we wrote to inform the candidates of the positions of Iowa Republicans.

That candidate has a record of faith, family, freedom, service, and success.
Well, it sounds like Romney is King's man then. Fred is against the Constitutional Ammendment of Marriage Protection. He is not a religious man by most reports (and a "record of faith" is not something that Fred or his supporters tout). On the issue of family . . . he hardly has the model history. He long played "The Bachelor" lady's man inside the beltway for over a decade. Also, I'm still searching for any huge "successes" Fred can lay claim to. I mean those few lines I quoted above are right out of the Romney campaign "talking points" about what's so good about him.

But what is interesting is that King never even mentioned Romney in his whole statement (he even talked of Tancredo, Hunter and Paul, in addition to the ones I mentioned above).

It gets even stranger . . . as Kay Henderson from the Radio Iowa blog reports:

After the event, I asked King if he had made up his mind on the spot as he was
speaking this morning.

"You have great intuition," King replied.

Sounds like he was planning to endorse Romney . . . but just decided on the spot to go with Fred. Amazing and baffling.

(PS. I wonder how many Huckabee supporters in his district sent him emails/calls/letters threatening to withdraw their voting and financial support if he endorsed Romney . . . just wondering . . . maybe Fred was the safe choice for King?)

Update (3 hours later): I didn't get a chance to finish my thoughts before publishing the above entry.

First off, Kudos to Thompson for getting this endorsement. It will help Fred in Iowa . . . there is little doubt of that. He got the endorsement and I'm not whining about it.

However, it is INCREDIBLY doubtful that this will bring Thompson up to the level of challenging Mitt and Huck to win Iowa. The guy just doesn't "have it" on the stump and is too cash strapped to build any momentum off of positive news like this.

But what this does do is make it harder for Rudy, McCain, or Paul to come in third in Iowa (if the "three tickets out of Iowa" theory even applies this year). Those guys will be fighting for 4th-6th places (could this have been part of the strategy for King . . . wanting to cripple McCain and Rudy who he's never been a fan of?)

Also, I think that Huckabee stands to lose more from King going to Fred than Romney does. Huck's base of support is strongest in western Iowa . . . and specifically in King's district. It may give some of them "pause" that Huck didn't get this endorsement and that Fred might be an acceptable (non anti-Bush) alternative. I'm sure Romney could lose some to Thompson too . . . but geographically Huck is more vulnerable here.

Again, I wish Romney had gotten this endorsement (King could have played "Kingmaker"), but it is still telling that King had negative things to say about all the top teir candidates (even Thompson) except Romney during this endorsement. Hopefully King's statements here will reflect a similar unwillingness to trash Romney on the stump when he seems open to doing that for all the other candidates.

Crazy day (especially with NBC's "First Read" and the Radio Iowa Blog going forward with the "King endorsing Romney" story before retracting it back.)

Update #2: And it gets more baffling . . . from the NBC reporter who went "live" with the "King Endorses Romney" story we get this update:
No one will ever accused Rep. Steve King (R) of not being theatrical.

The Iowa congressman kept his endorsement choice under wraps so closely that no one knew who he would choose between Thompson or Romney for his nod. The vociferous critic of illegal immigration was said to have narrowed his choice to the two candidates, but he joked that "not even his wife" knew who he'd choose.

But at the start of a sparsely attended press conference in Des Moines today, the superstars of Romney's Iowa shop gathered in the back, leading journalists to conclude that King's nod was destined for the Massachusetts governor. But then curious members of Team Thompson swooped in at the last minute.

Apparently, no one knew what lurked in the congressman's mind.

As he named each GOP candidate, King called the choice of endorsement "one of the hardest decisions I've ever made in my life, and one of the latest coming."

He mentioned the pros and cons of each candidate, notably ruling out both Giuliani and Huckabee, after casting doubt upon their records on immigration.

As he detoured into a treatise on religious tolerance -- a clear reference to Romney's Mormonism -- a Romney endorsement seemed imminent. "I think it's inappropriate to draw conclusions about what we think someone else's faith might be," he said.

"There's only one candidate who epitomizes the full spectrum of our conservative values," he continued. "There is one who is a comfortable conservative, in whom I have full confidence in his decisions."

"He also has the fire in his belly to go the distance, and the brains and resources to get there," said King.

Nail in the coffin for Thompson, everyone thought in the room. (Thompson is frequently caricatured as sluggish and apathetic about his White House hopes, and his campaign coffers are paltry in comparison to Romney's millions.)

Then King added, "If it's not there, I intend to work hard to put it there." The typing and the scratching of pens in the room suddenly stopped as reporters' heads snapped up. "I will put all of my efforts -- and the fire into the belly -- of the person who I believe destiny has called to be the president of the United States."

"I will be working for and supporting Fred Thompson for president."

As King dramatically took off his glasses, folded them, and put them back in his coat pocket, the room was almost silent. A lone Thompson staffer clapped a few times.

And more than one reporter re-learned a hard lesson … it ain't over til it's over.

Weird, weird, weird. What could have caused King to "call and audible" on this one at the last minute? Thoughts?

P.S. Here's the audio of the press conference courtesy of Radio Iowa.


Anonymous said...

If there is any question regarding the types of phone calls someone like King may be getting then read this from a hardcore Evangelical "Christian":

Anonymous said...

Jeff, buddy, come on now.

Maybe he didn't endorse Mitty because Mitty is a social liberal and Steve is a social conservative?

Or maybe Steve watched Meet the Press yesterday and saw Mitty get taken behind the wood shed by Russert and got worried about what would happen in Nov. 2008?

Anonymous said...

Interestingly, Drudge linked to this story (notice the last part of the URL):

Yet the story is about Thompson.

Anonymous said...

I may buy into the least likely to hurt Romney story line. I think Fred may syphon off votes from Huckabee more than Romney.

Jack said...

Romney has a clear record of beinga a social liberal and has only coverted recently to many of the conservative agenda, but in the end it comes down to Mitt is a great and likable guy a real head for business there is no doubt, but after you watch and listen to him for a while you get the same feeling you get from a car salesman and you relize the deal isn't about you it is about the sale and Fred for all his faults is what he is and what you see is what you get. No he isn't always on your side of things, but he tells you up front he isn't and why he isn't and you know that answer he gives you is the same answer you will get from him next week, next month, and next year.

Anonymous said...

This is a sideways endorsement of Romney in my opinion. How many people will be swung to Romney from this endorsement given all of his advertising. If you like him you like him, if you don't you don't. There is however, a huge swing that can go from Huck to Thompson, thereby helping Romney. Sounds a little conspiratorial, but it makes sense.

Nealie Ride said...

King as least slammed Clemency Huck. That should be another factor in the list that is already drowning Huck.

Some of Huck's fans will surely flip-flop (the ultimate sin) to Fred now that the almight King has told them what to do.

Mitt is now re-gaining momentum and just might carry the day in Iowa. It sure is nice to have lowered expectations.

Leslie said...

I think this guy is a little nuts if you ask me. In the end I think he helped Mitt and Fred. Maybe that's what he meant to do. Anyhow, have Mitt and Fred considered at this point teaming up?

Anonymous said...

The writing is on the wall for Huck.

The Romney campaign should not underestimate the support Fred will pick up as a result of this and of his last ditch IA surge beginning today.

The contrast ads with Huck are no longer necessary and should be pulled in favor of a strategy to defend against the coming Thompson surge. I hope the Romney campaign is watching its other flank.

Thompson is the concern for Romney, not Huck.

Anonymous said...

This signals a change at the Thompson campaign. They have been on the attack against Huckabee, but it hasn't worked even with Fred Head mole Joe Carter helping them.

Now Old Fred thinks he can take votes away from Mitt with nasty tricks like this. Watch out for more dirty tricks from the Thompson camp.

Former Karl Rove assistant Tim Griffin has been taken off his Huckabee assignment and put on digging up dirt on Romney.

Anonymous said...

Why would Rep. King do this? Fred Thompson has more openly gay (think Hollywood conection) people on his campaign staff than all other Republicans combined.

Thompson says one thing on the gay issue and does another.

William said...

Great coverage! Mitt is definitely the man for the job. Please check out to make contributions to him count twice!

Brian said...

It shows that King is too afraid of his evangelical constituency to say directly that he really wants Romney. As any maroon knows, Thompson is dead in the water.