I saw something somewhere this morning about Rudy’s camp planning to announce a major endorsement tomorrow during an appearance in South Carolina. This would certainly qualify:

Rumors are swirling across the Palmetto State that Gov. Mark Sanford, who has until now remained neutral in the race for the White House, will endorse former Mayor Rudy Giuliani in his bid to become the next president. The Palmetto Scoop has been contacted by numerous sources who are reporting a “feeding frenzy” among national and local reporters to confirm the buzz…

The popular blog FITSNews, which is run by former Sanford spokesman Will Folks, wrote last week that, “Early rumors pegged both Romney and former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani as the most likely ‘Sanford suitors’ among the ‘08 contenders, but in recent months sources have confirmed to FITSNews that it’s always been ‘Hizzoner or Bust’ for the governor, or at least for the governor’s Washington D.C.-based political consultant, Jon Lerner.”

Folks elaborated, “Some sources even claim Sanford’s endorsement of Rudy (in exchange for the No. 2 spot on the ticket) is a done deal, and that all the early talk of the governor potentially ending up on a Romney ticket was just a smokescreen.”

South Carolina is presumptive Thompson country and deep red with social conservatives so needless to say this is a huge score. And an interesting bellwether: if Sanford has designs on higher office — and at only 47 years old and having served previously in Congress, why wouldn’t he? — throwing in his lot with Rudy this early on must mean he’s confident Giuliani will be the nominee. Or does it? Maybe he’s concluded, per the conventional wisdom, that Rudy’s the only Republican with even a chance of beating Hillary in the general so why not risk pissing off Fred and Mitt and roll the dice by endorsing him? If Rudy comes through, Sanford’s either on the ticket or in line for a cabinet appointment. If he doesn’t come through, Sanford suffers no political cost unless Fred or Mitt stun the world and make it all the way to the White House, in which case Sanford cools his heels for eight years and then emerges as a leading contender for the nomination in 2016, when he’ll be only 55. There’s really no downside to this that I can see, — except possibly earning the ire of James Dobson, which is no mean consideration. What does it say that Sanford’s apparently willing to risk that on Giuliani?

The only thing I worry about is his odd congressional synchronicity with Ron Paul, although I’m going to assume that was mostly in matters of pork and spending, where Paul is on the side of the angels. So long as Sanford believes that fire can melt steel, he should be fine.

Speaking of Paul, he’s picked up a prized endorsement himself lately. Quite a menagerie he’s cultivating.