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    Elite Member JamieElizabeth's Avatar
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    Default Presidental candidates lean on governors

    By ROBERT TANNER, AP National Writer 1 hour, 4 minutes ago

    WASHINGTON - Seven governors already have made endorsements early in the 2008 White
    House race and pressure is growing for others to choose soon, bringing along their networks of fundraisers and activists.

    Their support can prove influential, some analysts say, because the most effective governors have an election-tested base of motivated voters, willing donors and the ability to help sway undecided primary voters.

    Sen. John McCain (news, bio, voting record), R-Ariz., has the support of three governors and Sen. Barack Obama (news, bio, voting record), D-Ill., the backing of two. Two former GOP governors — Mitt Romney of Massachusetts and Mike Huckabee of Arkansas — each has picked up the endorsement of one governor. And one current governor, Democrat Bill Richardson of New Mexico, is in the race himself.


    "They all call," Gov. Deval Patrick, D-Mass., said Saturday as the state leaders attended their annual winter meeting. "I'll get involved in the primary. But not yet."
    The competition for the governors' support is good strategy, said Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, D-Kan.


    "Governors in their states know where the votes are and know how to produce a winning majority. That's a pretty good ally to have when you head into someone's back yard."
    Still, the endorsements are just one piece of a long and expensive race that has attracted a crowded field in both parties and a quick push for campaign money.


    "I've talked to a number of governors," Huckabee said. "Many of them are not quite ready to make their move, kind of waiting to see how things shake out."

    Huckabee last week announced the endorsement of South Dakota GOP Gov. Mike Rounds.


    Among Republicans, McCain has the support of Mitch Daniels of Indiana, Jon Huntsman of Utah and Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota. Romney was endorsed by Matt Blunt of Missouri.
    Among Democrats, Obama has the backing of Rod Blagojevich of Illinois and Tim Kaine of Virginia.

    Those are the critical formal announcements, while the private conversations, quiet lobbying and occasional public appearances play out.
    Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, R-Calif., recently took the stage with McCain on an environmental issue and said the lawmaker was a "great senator," "very good friend" and "a great national leader." The governor skirted a question about whether he would endorse McCain.
    Last month, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y., met with Chet Culver, the new Democratic governor in Iowa, whose caucuses kick off the nominating season on Jan. 14, 2008.


    In Alabama, GOP Gov. Bob Riley praised Romney in public. "This guy is the quintessential candidate. He's nice looking. He's articulate. He's eminently successful," Riley said. But he held back an endorsement.
    Democrat John Edwards' staff said the 2004 vice presidential nominee will make announcements about endorsements in the coming weeks. Richardson said he is working with several governors and their staff on fundraising but is not yet asking for endorsements.


    Several states moved up the date of their contests so their voters have an earlier say in helping select a nominee. As a result, much of the focus has turned to how much money a candidate can raise.


    Democratic hopeful Tom Vilsack, Iowa's former governor, quit the White House race this week. The reason? "Money and only money," he said.
    But money and endorsements often go hand in hand, a kind of surrogate for early and influential voters, political observers say.
    "It's kind of a pre-poll poll, in a way," said Walter Stone, political science professor at University of California, Davis.
    Governors can help build money and momentum, particularly in the campaign's crucial early months.


    "The financial pressures on the candidates are enormous. Essentially what candidates must do is plug into networks," Stone said. "And a governor is an elected official in a state with a lot of existing contacts."
    Some governors are just very popular and that can help influence undecided primary voters. Voters might follow the endorsement by a governor they like and trust, Stone said.
    Others are more skeptical.


    Culver, the Iowa governor, said he is happy to talk with any Democratic hopeful and offer suggestions. Just don't expect an endorsement.
    "The bottom line is endorsements don't matter much — at any level," Culver said. "Just one state legislator endorsed me."
    Candidates lean on governors for support - Yahoo! News
    Last edited by JamieElizabeth; February 24th, 2007 at 05:52 PM.

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