Reporter's Note: Donald Trump just endorsed Mitt Romney for president. So me writing yet another letter to the White House is certainly not the strangest thing to happen today.
Dear Mr. President,
What do you think of political endorsements? I mean really, deep down - do you think they make any difference?
I watched this whole business of The Donald lining up behind Mitt Romney, and it brought to mind that old, nagging question: Does it matter? On the face of it, my immediate answer would be no. I’ve always thought endorsements had a lot more to do with forming unions between political forces, and a lot less to do with actually influencing normal voters. Sure, Washington is intrigued by who is picking sides with whom, but among regular folks who the heck cares whether the Governor of What’s-His-Place likes Tweedle-Dee or Tweedle-Dum? On top of which, Trump has long been something of a cartoon character for many folks.
On the other hand, a friend of mine whose political insights I respect told me that this Trump business is something I should watch a little more closely. His reason is simple. Plenty of voters do not know by sight or name many of the big political players, so when those folks endorse, the action is like a pebble in a pond. It makes a tiny splash, and then the ripples rapidly fade.
But Trump is someone that everyone knows. Maybe they think he is a huckster. Maybe they have little interest in his political aspirations. But they know him. They know he is rich. And when someone like that talks, whether or not people listen, they at least notice…which gives him a leg up on many more traditional endorsers. At least one poll suggests it may actually hurt Romney to be associated with Trump. Maybe so. Maybe not.
So again, will it make a difference? I don’t know. But it certainly made some headlines for Mr. Romney today. And as the race boils on, such things can add up.
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