Congressional endorsements of presidential candidates aren’t much of what they used to be — door-openers to the sort of local organizational muscle and fat checkbooks that would scare away rivals early on or change the late dynamic of a close primary.
The televised, telemarketed and tweeted world of modern national campaigns doesn’t have much room for a regional or even statewide power broker to make a mark. And, for most senators or House members, the loss of face from embracing the loser is a much bigger worry than the all-too-often ephemeral rewards from standing in the reflected glow of a winner.
Those dynamics help explain why, by the time former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney wrapped up the topsy-turvy Republican nomination contest last April, he’d been formally endorsed by only 25 senators (slightly more than half) and just 79 House members (slightly fewer than one-third).
They also highlight just how unusually Sen. Claire McCaskill of Missouri was behaving Tuesday, when she announced she was entering the high-profile early endorsement game for the second time in as many Democratic presidential contests.
Six Januaries ago, McCaskill was the first woman in the Senate to back her colleague Barack Obama of Illinois over her other colleague Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York. This time, she’s become the first member of Congress whatsoever to endorse Clinton — who insists she won’t reveal whether she’ll be a candidate before the end of the year. Full story