Mitt Romney 2012 Gubernatorial Endorsements Don't Pay Off

Mitt Romney's Gubernatorial Endorsements Don't Pay Off

Rick Santorum won the Minnesota caucuses on Tuesday night, besting the GOP field's frontrunner -- who had the endorsement of Tim Pawlenty, a high-profile former governor of the state.

In fact, two of the losses Mitt Romney has now sustained have come in places where he had the backing of the state's current or recent governor.

Romney received the coveted endorsement of South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley (R) in December. He lost the state's primary to Newt Gingrich.

In Minnesota, Romney had the backing of Pawlenty, who served as governor from 2003 to 2011. Pawlenty bowed out of the GOP presidential race in August and endorsed Romney the next month. Pawlenty has been one of Romney's top surrogates, frequently talking to the press and appearing at events to boost Romney and attack his rivals.

Of course, it's unlikely that Romney lost because of his endorsements. But it also shows that they are not a sure-fire way to appeal to voters -- a fact perhaps not lost on the governors themselves.

Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels has decided to stay neutral in the GOP primary. A popular figure in the Republican Party, he was recently tapped by Republican leaders in Congress to deliver the response to President Barack Obama's State of the Union address.

In a Thursday interview with MSNBC's Andrea Mitchell, Daniels discussed the ineffectiveness of gubernatorial endorsements.

"I don't know who in the world would care much what I thought," Daniels said, when asked about a possible endorsement. "Others who I consider bigger figures than I have endorsed and I don't think it's made much difference. We've seen at least one or two governors endorse a candidate in their own state, and then have that candidate lose."

"So I don't think most voters pay that much attention to such things," he added. "And I guess maybe that's one reason I haven't stirred myself to do it in either -- in any direction."

On Tuesday night, Fox News host Greta Van Susteren asked Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) whether Romney's poor showing in Minnesota was a "slap in the face" to Pawlenty. Bachmann refrained from answering directly.

"The vote tonight is not necessarily reflective tonight of the final vote. It's an indicator .. . Of course, you want to be the winner tonight. You've got a lot more hurdles and a lot more gates to go through. It depends. These candidates are going 50-state wide. It depends on how much energy you want to expend on the state."

In Iowa and Florida, the Republican governors stayed neutral in the GOP primary. New Hampshire, Missouri and Colorado have Democratic governors, although Romney had the backing of former New Hampshire governor John Sununu, who was in office from 1983 to 1989. Romney won that state.

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