Donald Trump, the only leading Republican presidential candidate with literally zero endorsements from GOP governors or members of Congress, boasted the other day that the supporters are ready to line up behind him. The endorsements are coming “very soon,” he said. He added, “You watch.”
While we wait for these looming supporters, who may or may not exist, to make their official announcements, one of Trump’s rivals is starting to pick up endorsements in large chunks. Politico reported overnight:
Sen. Marco Rubio locked up a handful of congressional endorsements on Wednesday.Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), Rep. Matt Salmon (R-Ariz.), Rep. Glenn Thompson (R-Pa.), and Reps. Steve Womack and Rick Crawford, both Arkansas Republicans, all endorsed the Florida senator. Rep. Lynn Westmoreland (R-Ga.) reportedly plans to endorse Rubio on Thursday, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Those announcements coincided with Rubio also picking up support from former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.), who officially ended his own presidential campaign last night, while throwing his backing to the Florida senator.
FiveThirtyEight, which maintains a very helpful “endorsement tracker,” reported last night that Jeb Bush has been replaced as the GOP leader on this metric, surpassed by Rubio. The piece added that Rubio picked up a lot of endorsements between Labor Day and Thanksgiving, “but that momentum stalled.” It now appears to be picking up again.
And that’s hardly surprising. As things stand, the results out of Iowa suggest the race for the Republican presidential nomination is effectively a three-man contest between Rubio, Donald Trump, and Ted Cruz. Given these choices, it seems painfully obvious that GOP members of Congress are going to rally behind the Florida senator, even if they have reservations, since they consider the alternatives so obviously unacceptable.
But let’s not miss the forest for the trees here.
We’re approaching an interesting point in the presidential race. Most pundits have already embraced Rubio, deeming him the winner of the Iowa caucuses, overlooking his third-place finish as an annoying detail better left ignored. Prediction markets have already decided Rubio will be the nominee. Republican mega-donors continue to rally behind Rubio. GOP members of Congress are starting to scurry to the senator’s side and rumor has it that even Mitt Romney will throw his official backing to Rubio before Tuesday’s New Hampshire primary.
Republican voters are effectively receiving a clear message from the so-called “establishment”: Congratulations, we now know who you’re supposed to vote for.
And who knows, maybe it’ll work. Perhaps GOP voters will do as they’re told; the thesis behind “The Party Decides” will be vindicated; and party elites will be able to pat themselves on the back for succeeding once again.
The picture should come into sharper focus over the next five days.