List of Potential GOP Kingmakers Grows

Tuesday, 17 May 2011 11:02 AM

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The list of potential Republican presidential contenders who have decided not to pursue the highest elected office in the land continues to grow. But that doesn’t mean the influence of those who drop out won’t be felt in the GOP field, Fox News reported Tuesday.

The endorsements of former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, businessman and reality TV star Donald Trump and others could sway primary voters, making their support a much-sought-after commodity.

Huckabee is at the top of the list of former presidential hopefuls turned kingmakers.

gop kingmakers"This is an endorsement worth having," said Larry Sabato of the University of Virginia. "Not only was he a co-frontrunner in the polls, but he resonates with social conservatives who are critical to success in early states."

Analysts point to Barbour’s extensive list of contacts in Republican circles as a two-term governor, former lobbyist and former head of the National Republican Committee. As for Trump, the media glare he attracts could help any candidate.

"Trump would attract a forest of cameras so the endorsee could make his or her case," Sabato said.

Other endorsements from sitting governors, such as New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley or Texas Gov. Rick Perry could help a candidate tap into the political organizations within those states.

“Nikki Haley, for instance, could be a big help to someone running in the South Carolina primary,” Sabato said. “Her organization can turn out voters."

Sabato added that Haley's importance can be summed in a few words: "South Carolina, South Carolina, South Carolina. No Republican has won the nomination without first winning the Palmetto State in recent decades. Haley will have great influence here."

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