Mitt Romney is slowly becoming the consensus candidate for Republicans that took a pass at making their own 2012 runs. He's already been endorsed by former candidate Tim Pawlenty and and the much-hyped Chris Christie. Now South Dakota senator John Thune has thrown his support behind Romney as well. Thune—who looks like the Hollywood caricature of a president—had been contemplating a presidential run but ruled it out in February.
At The New York Times, former Iowa reporter Jeff Zeleny speculates that Thune could prove to be an influential get for Romney success in Iowa. "While it remains an open question whether Mr. Thune’s endorsement will carry significant weight in Iowa, the northwest corner of the state that borders South Dakota is a critical area for Republican presidential candidates and Mr. Thune has strong name recognition there," Zeleny wrote this morning.
I'm not so sure. It's true that the western edge of the state is the center of Iowa Republican politics, but geography did nothing to help Pawlenty before he dropped out, and Michele Bachmann, the other Republican from Iowa's northern neighbor, currently ranks sixth according to Real Clear Politics' average of Iowa polls. And most Iowans have little to no knowledge of the South Dakota senator. When Public Policy Polling quizzed Iowans at the start of the year, 70 percent said they held no opinion of Thune. But as I wrote yesterday, each new endorsement for Romney robs his challengers of a potential backer that could lend credibility to their campaigns against the frontrunner.
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