Monday, September 12, 2011

Mitt Romney Receives Presidential Endorsement From Tim Pawlenty, Awards Senatorial Endorsement To Orrin Hatch

Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney, one of two members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the race, was at the center of two endorsement decisions on September 12th, 2011.

First, Romney received the endorsement of former candidate Tim Pawlenty. Pawlenty wrote, "Alone among the contenders, [Romney] possesses the unique qualifications to confront and master our severe economic predicament. His abiding faith in our country's exceptional historical position as a beacon of freedom will make him the most important leader in a world that depends upon a strong America to stay at peace." Pawlenty had previously criticized Romney for enacting Romneycare while Governor of Massachusetts; many people consider Romneycare to be Obamacare Lite. Pawlenty is not angling for the vice-presidential slot on a Romney ticket, though.

Although Pawlenty was the first declared candidate, his campaign never caught fire with prospective voters, and he remained a single-digit midget in numerous polls. After getting spanked by Michele Bachmann in Iowa, Pawlenty bailed out of the race.

The Boston Globe reports a guarded reaction by Pawlenty's former supporters in New Hampshire, with some willing to give Romney a second look. But the real significance of Pawlenty's endorsement is that it could help Romney secure more evangelical support. The Christian Post notes that Pawlenty is an evangelical Christian who attends Wooddale Church in Eden Prairie, MN, which is led by Leith Anderson. Anderson is also president of the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE). In a poll conducted by NAE last June, Pawlenty won the most support among member pastors for president. Thus Pawlenty's decision, while it will not result in the mass conversion of evangelical voters to Romney's cause, will still help.

Mitt Romney was also in a giving mood on September 12th. In the Utah U.S. Senate race, Romney awarded his endorsement to "Senator-for-Life" Orrin Hatch, who was faced with the same type of insurgency threat that unseated Bob Bennett at the Utah State Republican Convention in 2010. "Orrin is a committed public servant who always puts the people of Utah first," Romney said in a statement released by the senator's campaign. "I couldn’t be prouder to endorse him in his re-election bid." Romney also noted that Hatch is in a prime position to help the country because of his seniority in the Senate, including his position as the ranking Republican on the Senate Finance Committee.

KSL Channel 5 notes that Romney's endorsement did not save Bob Bennett from losing his party's nomination at the 2010 GOP convention. But Hatch's chances for renomination already improved noticeably when his most dangerous prospective challenger, Utah Congressman Jason Chaffetz, decided not to challenge him and instead run for re-election to his own seat. Polls indicated that Chaffetz could possibly have defeated Hatch, but it would have been close. So unlike Bennett in 2010, Hatch has no prominent Republican opponents at this time. But even though Hatch has apparently been successful in re-inventing himself as a conservative in time to blunt intra-party opposition, many still believe six terms in the U.S. Senate is more than enough.

For his part, Orrin Hatch responded by saying that he is "deeply humbled by Mitt's support. He [Romney] is a man I deeply admire and whom I know would lead our nation out of the economic mess we are in today."

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