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Thursday, February 2nd, 2012

Baton Rouge, Louisiana



Endorsements are coming right and left from major party officials in the Republican primary presidential race.  Even so, The Wall Street Journal ran an opinion page column last week that concluded endorsements don’t make all that much difference in the final outcome.  Nevertheless, the three current major Republican candidates continue to seek out anyone they can get to join their campaigns.

A number of evangelical Christian ministers have endorsed former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum.  Newt Gingrich has picked up recent support from Herman Cain, who dropped out of the presidential race last month. Sarah Palin has given a wink and a nod to Gingrich.  Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney has garnered the most endorsements and continues to be the front runner and gather momentum.  But just as interesting is the list of major Republican heavyweights who are sitting on the sidelines.

Florida’s U.S. Senator Marco Rubio has close ties to both Romney and Gingrich, and finds himself in a political triangle.  Going back as far as 2006, Gingrich has shared suggestions for Rubio’s book, 100 Innovative Ideas for Florida’s future. Romney perceptively endorsed Rubio for Senator in the early stages of his campaign when few gave the then Florida Speaker much of a chance.  And though Rubio says he has no interest, both candidates have put him on their candidate for Vice President short list. So Rubio is playing it coy to shore up his options in this current campaign.

One of the most sought after endorsements is that of former Florida Governor Jeb Bush. His father, the former president, has endorsed Romney, while his brother, also a former president, is officially staying neutral. Governor Bush may now be more inclined to endorse Romney following his big victory in Florida this week.  However, Bush seems more interested in promoting his educational initiatives rather than in becoming involved in someone else’s presidential race.

Governor Bush rolled into my hometown of Baton Rouge this past Monday to speak at a conference on educational reform. But he didn’t just show up.  An advance team was sent in three days ahead to plan the Governor’s itinerary. VIP receptions were arranged, with photo opportunities for the party faithful. A private jet delivered Bush and his traveling staff to Baton Rouge, and a contingent of security guards were in attendance as the Governor arrived and made his way to the podium. The only thing missing was Air Force One.

Until recently, many republicans were hoping that Bush would jump into the race for President.  Some were even dreaming of a brokered convention, where no consensus occurs, and Bush would become the go to guy. Not likely. To many of the party faithful, there still is the stigma of the Bush name being associated with the failing economy and the Iraq War. But time passes and people forgive and forget. Four years from now, if President Obama is re elected, the timing could be just right for a third Bush to emerge. Jeb Bush would be just 62 when the next presidential election rolls around. I pressed the Governor on his future plans when we visited here in Baton Rouge, but he just smiled and talked about his education initiatives.

The Sarasota Tribune says Former first lady Laura Bush wishes there were one more candidate in the Republican presidential primary.  Speaking to a sold-out audience in Sarasota on Wednesday, when asked if Jeb Bush will run for president someday, Laura Bush said, “George and I wish he would, we wanted him to this time.”

And then there is Louisiana Governor, Bobby Jindal. Many political prognosticators thought the second term Louisiana Governor made a big mistake when he early on endorsed Texas Governor Rick Perry for President.  Perry quickly crashed and burned.  But was Jindal also a loser?  Hardly.  He told any who inquired that Perry was a close friend, from a neighboring state that shares numerous issues along the gulf coast. Allies of the Louisiana Governor also point out that he built up some major IOUs in the second largest state in the nation, a state that generates big-time campaign contributions for someone who, say, might have an  interest in a future presidential bid.

With Perry out of the race, Jindal, just like the Florida Governor, is withholding any endorsement. Interestingly, Jindal’s top adviser, former chief of Staff Timmy Teepell told a gathering of reporters that President Obama is well positioned for re election. “It’s going to be a much tougher battle than most people think for Republicans to beat Obama.”

So if Obama is reelected, the present bunch of candidates, most of whom are in there mid 60s or older, will be fading away. Jindal needs to chalk up some major state legislative successes to build a better campaign resume. But no close observer will be a bit surprised to see Bobby Jindal emerging early on as a top tier candidate in the next campaign.  And guess what?  That next presidential election is only 1730 days away.


 “When I was a boy, I was told that anybody could be elected President.  Now I’m beginning to believe it.”Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â  Clarence Darrow

Jim Brown’s syndicated column appears each week in numerous newspapers and websites throughout the South.  You can read all his past columns and see continuing updates at www.jimbrownla.com.  You can also hear Jim’s nationally syndicated radio show each Sunday morning from 9 am till 11:00 am, central time, on the Genesis Radio Network, with a live stream at http://www.jimbrownla.com.

And tune in to Jim’s NEW weeknight radio program, from 7:00 PM until 9:00 PM central time, Monday through Friday, on flagship station 1150-WJBO.  You can listen live on the worldwide web at www.WJBO.com.  Jim will also host a special three hour show this Friday evening, February 3rd,  from 5:00 PM until 8:00 PM central time, filling in for nationally renowned talk show host Jason Lewis over the Genesis Communications Network.

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