And Speaking of Endorsements

And speaking of endorsement, there’s been rumblings and rumors swirling about when and who John Kerry will endorse over the past couple of days. Radar has a snarky piece about who Kerry might endorse and they are betting it will be Obama. Regardless of who Kerry endorses it will no doubt be a coup for the lucky Dem candidate, as National Journal’s John Mecurio points out the Democratic candidates are awaiting endorsements from “The Three Kings of the Democratic Party“:

Forget about Oprah and Barbra. When it comes to moving votes in the Democratic primary and shaping the race for the White House, there are only three Democrats left out there whose endorsements could really change the game: Al Gore, Edward Kennedy and, yes, John Kerry.

Each of them has a presidential campaign under his belt, and each would benefit his candidate of choice in vastly different ways. “I have no idea whether any of the three of them are going to do it,” Bob Shrum, a veteran Democratic strategist, said this week on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “But if any of the three of them did it, it would be very, very powerful.”

Here’s the lowdown according to Mecurio:

Gore: Four years after his highly celebrated endorsement marked the beginning of Howard Dean’s end, the Emmy/Oscar/Nobel Prize winner has evolved into the most popular Democrat who hasn’t hitched his wagon to a White House candidate.

While endorsements rarely move voters, polls show Gore is uniquely positioned to do so. According to a Pew Research Center poll from June, 21 percent of Democratic and Democratic-leaning voters around the country said Gore’s endorsement would make them more likely to support a candidate, while just 7 percent said it would negatively influence their decision. That’s a higher positive and lower negative than Oprah Winfrey’s impact on Barack Obama, according to a recent Gallup/USA Today survey.

A Gore endorsement for Obama or John Edwards (but, more likely, Obama) could doom Hillary Rodham Clinton’s hopes in Iowa, and reconfirm Gore’s role as a player on the political stage from which he has been largely absent since his 2000 defeat. While he may be wary of wading into murky intraparty waters, he also knows it could be the best way for him, and the issues he advocates, to remain relevant after 2008. Ironically, while he would have the most decisive impact on the race, Gore is the least likely of the three Democrats to endorse. Associates this week said Gore hasn’t ruled out doing so but isn’t currently discussing the prospects with any candidate.

Undaunted, Obama is making overtures. In an interview with Time magazine that hits newsstands Friday, Obama said he’d bring Gore into his administration “in a minute,” citing the former vice president’s work on climate change.

Kennedy: The senior Massachusetts senator is influential among national Democrats and the party’s energized base of older liberals, particularly those in his native New England. It was in New Hampshire, for example, that his 2000 endorsement of Gore helped the struggling vice president appeal to liberals, put away Bill Bradley and seal the nomination.

Kennedy could also make a big splash in Iowa, where any of the candidates (except, perhaps, Clinton) could claim to be an insurgent, as Kennedy did in 1980 when he took about a third of the Democratic caucus vote away from then-President Jimmy Carter. Kennedy’s support may not translate to a win, but it could be a high point for insurgents (Obama/Edwards) running against the party’s establishment (Clinton).

Kennedy also stumped aggressively for Kerry in 2004, helping him score a decisive upset in the Hawkeye State.

Key Democrats say Kennedy is likely to take sides next month, probably before the holidays. Whom he’ll endorse is a subject of much speculation, but few specifics.

One quandary for Kennedy in ’08: decades-long friendships with second-tier Democrats Joseph Biden and Christopher Dodd. (Indeed, personal connections weigh heavily on Kennedy, whose longtime friendship with Gore’s father was a crucial factor in his 2000 decision.)

Kerry: Yes, John Kerry.

His popularity may not even reach the levels Gore enjoyed in late ’03 when he endorsed Dean. And much like Gore in ’04, Kerry opted to forgo another White House bid this year because he was advised that it was virtually unwinnable.

Nonetheless, Kerry has made strategically wise efforts over the past four years to keep in close touch with the extensive national base of party donors and activists he built in 2004, with hopes to have a voice in 2008. Look for him to speak up shortly.

OK, so they don’t have talk shows or book clubs, and they offer limited Broadway appeal. But together, Gore, Kennedy and Kerry could determine their party’s nominee and, possibly, the country’s next president.

Adding my 2 cents… I don’t see Edwards or Richardson (who Mecurio didn’t mention)gaining the endorsement of any of the “Three Kings.” I also am inclined to think that Gore will keep his word and sit this one out. He’s where he wants to be right now and I don’t think he’s at all interested in playing king or queen maker.

Kennedy, after pushing for Kerry to run again, has sat on endorsing any one for a long time. His endorsement did a lot for Kerry, but his heart was in it all the way for JK. I think if Kennedy had a favorite we would have known about it by now. He’s holding off for reason and I think he’ll go for the candidate that he feels has the best shot to win at this point. Key here is getting a winning Democrat into the White House in ’08.

Likewise, I think Kerry has been watching closely, as he said he would to see who mirrors his stance on the issues. As I noted above, I think Edwards and Richardson are out of the mix, and Kerry most likely feels that same. Dodd and Biden are viable but not getting any traction in the media, which leaves them looking much like Kerry four years ago, when many wrote him off. Still, I think for Kerry it will boil down to who he thinks has the best shot of going for gusto and taking back the White House. I’m inclined to think Kerry may surprise some with his choice.

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One Response to And Speaking of Endorsements

  1. Darrell Prows says:

    I don’t see how any of the three of them have anything to lose by going out on a limb this time. You’re talking about very astute guys, and each of them should have something enlightening to throw into the mix. If any of them did happen to highlight one of the “lesser” candidates it’s hardly like any of the remainders can afford to hold much of a grdge.