Giuliani Blog Tracking the likely Presidential candidacy of Rudy Giuliani

Friday, October 06, 2006

Endorsements: Big Gets or Cheap Dates?

It's time for your daily dose of McCain bashing and character assassination.

This time, it revolves around endorsements. It looks like Straight Talk hasn't been that straight about who is and isn't supporting them:

I have now been told that State Representative David Heaton of Mt. Pleasant is emphatically saying that he is not supporting McCain. I’m also told that there are two other legislators on the list that will flake off after Election Day.

This is the trouble with early endorsements, sure it’s a nice news story when they sign one, but it’s a bigger story when they jump ship. The problem for Kamp McCain is that it looks like somebody did sloppy work and didn’t nail these guys down before sending the press release. It’s a rookie mistake by the perceived front runner.
Heaton adds that he met with McCain, but never discussed endorsing him. He's not pleased by the error.

This episode shines a nice spotlight on the endorsement game some '08 contenders are now playing, particularly with highly impressionable small state legislators who will typically never get national political exposure. At some level, it betrays the fact that not a lot of thought goes into these announcements, or the process of reeling in the fish and actually confirming their support. Just as political operatives will build up a story on the blogs or Drudge (see John Harris' WaPo must-read today) to get around having to make the hard sell to mainstream media, candidate PACs try to create the impression of grassroots support among small-fry local officials who may not be as influential as they seem. If David Heaton was really central to the Straight Talk effort in Iowa, wouldn't more care have gone into actually confirming he was a McCain supporter?

It's a clever strategy, though. Most state legislators will almost never likely get to meet the President of the United States, so when a guy the media calls the frontrunner calls you up, it's a big, big deal. You're flattered, and likely to endorse simply because he was the first to ask. But as for these endorsements showing true grassroots support with actual caucusgoers, or conveying any organizational muscle, that's questionable.

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