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Romney, Giuliani get some key Southern endorsements

October 18, 2007 |  2:44 am

A couple of dueling endorsements for Republican candidates Wednesday. Actually, three. No, make that four.

Rudy Giuliani picked up the backing of Texas Gov. Rick Perry, a Southern conservative, which could be very helpful for the socially liberal Northeasterner. Perry didn't get into any of that abortion or gay stuff during his two-page paean of praise to the former New York mayor. He focused on Giuliani's executive experience prosecuting the mob, running the nation's largest city, handling the 9/11 crisis.

He called him "the most capable, the most prepared individual of either party to be the next president."

"He's a consistent leader with a track record of of consistent results," Perry said. "He offers America a much better vision than another Clinton president."

Mitt Romney picked up two endorsements from Southerners. One was from Rep. Connie Mack of populous Florida, son of the former Florida senator of the same name, and the other endorsement, interestingly enough, was from Bob Jones III. He's a very influential fellow from an old conservative Christian family in South Carolina, where Romney, another Northeasterner from a liberal state, trails in Republican polls.

The idea that such a prominent conservative evangelical like Jones backs Romney could assuage a lot of concern about the candidate's Mormon religion among many in South Carolina, where, you may have heard, the Mormon church is not all that big. And with the president's blessing, the school's alumni and friends could provide some effective troopers in the primary's political ground war.

Jones is president of the very socially conservative Christian Bob Jones University in Greenville. BJU, by the way, was the very first place George W. Bush headed in 2000 to launch his conservative Southern initiative the day after John McCain gave him that 19-point drubbing in New Hampshire. Not only did Bob Jones endorse Romney, but so did Dr. Bob Taylor, the dean of the university's School of Arts and Sciences.

Both men said they were making personal endorsements. Got that? A special unsigned statement at the top of the homepage on the university's website, right next to today's recommended Bible reading, said the school had never "officially" endorsed a political candidate and still wasn't (wink, wink), that Jones and Taylor were speaking personally in endorsing Mitt Romney, that everyone must make a decision of conscience, and these men had made theirs and they had chosen Gov. Mitt Romney as their candidate.

So anyone who supports Bob Jones University should have no doubts whom these two leaders support -- personally, of course. Naturally, everyone can make their own choice about which candidate named Mitt Romney they choose to vote for. Because the president's endorsement and the dean's endorsement, presented on the university's website homepage, is purely a personal decision. Totally up to you to pick your own candidate, because the university doesn't make such official choices.

-- Andrew Malcolm

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