It's the battle of the social-conservative endorsements
As we noted the other day, Mitt Romney picked up a key endorsement over the weekend -- Paul Weyrich, one of the main figures behind the political rise of the nation's social conservatives. Weyrich was instrumental in founding the Moral Majority and Heritage Foundation, which helped give organizational structure to the movement.
Not a bad plum for a candidate needing to bridge suspicions over his Mormon faith among the evangelical Christians within the party -- which was also helped by the recent endorsement by Bob Jones III (despite the disclaimer).
To put it in poker terms, those endorsements left Rudy Giuliani a little light in the social-conservative endorsement pot, though he did have Texas Gov. Rick Perry (who has to be in anyone's office pool of 2012 presidential wannabes). But today Giuliani announced he had matched Romney's Weyrich raise with an endorsement by yet another member of the conservative pantheon -- Pat Robertson, the televangelist founder of the Christian Broadcasting Network who ran for the Republican presidential nomination in 1988.
Of course, sometimes endorsements can involve more baggage than a candidate really wants to carry. But it's interesting that these key figures are lining up behind candidates who, on the surface, would seem to be the least attractive to them on policy grounds.
Could be they're trying to back a winner, even if it means compromising on some issues.
(UPDATE: Our colleague Michael Finnegan reports from Greenville, S.C., that Fred Thompson chatted with reporters this morning after a breakfast speech at Tommy's Country Ham House (a great place for an actor/politician to talk) and offered this reaction to Robertson's endorsement of Giuliani: "I'm surprised. But I guess it's because I'm easily surprised.")
-- Scott Martelle