The primary’s on Saturday the 21st. He’s promising to endorse on Thursday the 19th at the Southern Republican Leadership Conference, which happens to be hosting a presidential debate that same day. He’s timing it for maximum impact, in other words, right down to his choice of which primary to target: As a Georgia native, he might have a bit more sway over voters in SC than he would have had over Iowans, assuming he has any sway left over anyon.

Question: Who would value his endorsement the most? Perry’s desperate for positive buzz of any kind but Cain’s already ruled him and Ron Paul out. Huntsman would kill for some southern cred before the big vote but he’s guaranteed to be a longshot in SC. Why waste an endorsement on him if you’re Cain? The choice is between Romney, whom he endorsed four years ago, Santorum, and his buddy Newt. If he backs Romney, he gets the thanks of a likely nominee and possible future president for giving him a shot of grassroots appeal before the big vote. If he backs Santorum and Santorum pulls the upset, he gets to say he played conservative kingmaker (rightly or wrongly). Same is true if he backs Newt and Newt ends up edging out Santorum, and Newt would be especially grateful both for Cain’s vote of confidence and for the loyal friendship. I assume he’ll end up going with Romney, just because that’s his best bet to maximize leverage for his new “movement” going forward.

Exit question: What does he mean by “unconventional”?

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