Not so much an endorsement as a benediction.

Sen. Sam Brownback (R-Kan.) is considering endorsing Rudy Giuliani for the GOP presidential nomination and will meet with him Thursday in Washington to hear his views on abortion.

Brownback, who ended his White House run last week and is a champion of social conservative issues, said he would consider Giuliani because he had heard that the former New York City mayor had changed his position on partial-birth abortion and has pledged to appoint to the courts strict constructionists who would not overturn anti-abortion laws…

Ray Hoffmann, the state Republican chairman, said last month that Brownback and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee (R) had assembled the biggest campaign operations in Iowa after Mitt Romney, the former Massachusetts governor who is leading the GOP field in statewide polls. One Brownback adviser said that 45,000 Iowans had signed up as campaign supporters…

“It would be absolutely huge,” said Ross K. Baker, a professor of political science at Rutgers University. “It would mean that Giuliani is getting support form a part of the Republican Party that has been hostile to him.

“Brownback is very well-respected,” Baker added. “It would give a lot of social conservatives and evangelicals cover if they want to support Giuliani.”

In theory Rudy would leverage Brownback’s campaign infrastructure in Iowa to close the yawning gap between him and Mitt, but how likely is that to happen? The most committed social con base in the country, pounding the pavement for the lone pro-choice Republican simply because their candidate of choice asked them to? I don’t think so:

One Brownback source predicted the senator would announce his endorsement within the next month.

“We’ve done some internal polling to see where [Brownback supporters] are going to make sure they’re not flocking to someone we’re not going to endorse,” said the source.

In other words, there’s no earthly way he’s going to endorse Giuliani. He’s just hinting at it to make the value of his endorsement more precious later, when it inevitably goes to some social con and the press eats it up as proof that the religious base can’t in good conscience vote for Rudy. But of course Rudy’s got to go through the motions and meet with him anyway lest he duck him and it be seen as a snub. Exit question: Who will Switchback really endorse? There’s a bit of bad blood between him and Huckabee, partly due to this ugly episode and partly due to the fact that Huck usurped him at the Ames straw poll for second place. I’m guessing Romney.