When it rains, it pours. Eric Cantor endorsed Mitt Romney ahead of the Virginia primary on Super Tuesday, a primary that Romney already leads by 43 points in the latest Marist poll. In Oklahoma, Romney has run about 20 points back of Rick Santorum in polling that’s two weeks old or older, but Romney scored a big endorsement from fiscal conservative Sen. Tom Coburn:
In life, and especially politics, our choices are seldom perfect and often difficult. But it is critically important to make a choice and support the person who is best equipped to solve the urgent problems before us. In my view, that person is Mitt Romney.
From my experience, Washington tends to be divided between two groups — leaders and career politicians. Leaders tend to have a wealth of real-world experience outside of politics and are in office to give rather than take something from their position. Career politicians, on the other hand, mean well but are ill-equipped to solve problems. Their greatest skill is getting re-elected.
I’m proud to support Romney because he is a leader. What Romney has done in his 25 years in the private sector is precisely what we need a president to do in Washington. Romney has done hard things. He has turned businesses around, told people hard truths about what needed to be done, inspired confidence and overcome excuses. Romney is not a career politician or a career legislator. As a former governor and business leader, he is an executive who knows how to use executive power.
My endorsement is in no way an instruction on how Oklahomans should vote. Yet having served with the other candidates, I do know something about the field. Each candidate has admirable qualities. However, on too many occasions I have seen each behave like career politicians rather than leaders. The most important test for anyone in public life is what they do with power. Too often, the other candidates displayed political expediency rather than moral courage and rationalized poor decisions that put Republicans ahead of the republic.
The last survey taken in Oklahoma put Santorum up by 25 points (Rasmussen), but that was taken before the last debate, and before Romney won two primaries (Arizona and Michigan) and two caucuses (Wyoming and Washington). Getting Coburn’s backing might get attention from Sooner voters, even if Coburn says it’s not an “instruction” on how they should vote on Tuesday. Having that kind of boost two days before the primary has to help Romney, if only to get closer to Santorum and a better delegate split in the proportional primary on Tuesday.
Recall, though, that the other Senator from Oklahoma has refrained from endorsing but has spoken highly of Santorum. I interviewed Senator James Inhofe just before CPAC almost four weeks ago, and he emphasized that only Santorum met all four of his priorities for this election:
Endorsements may not move the needle far enough for Romney to make up twenty points, but that depends on whether he was still that far back by this weekend. It may improve his delegate haul, and it at least makes Oklahoma a little more interesting than it was before now.