Donald Trump Endorses Romney

First printed at www.algemeiner.com: http://www.algemeiner.com/2012/02/02/donald-trump-endorses-mitt-romney/

Not to be outdone by former candidate Herman Cain’s surprise endorsement of Newt Gingrich leading up to last week’s Florida Primary; corporate magnate and reality television star Donald Trump endorsed former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney on Thursday.

“It’s my honor and real privilege to endorse Mitt Romney,” Trump said in a brief press conference at his Trump Hotel in Las Vegas. He continued. ”Mitt is smart, he’s sharp, and he’s not going to allow bad things to happen to this country.”

Trump said that he endorsed Mitt Romney because of knowledge on how to get people back to work, and his tough stance on international trade with China.

Romney graciously thanked Trump for his support saying, “I’m so honored and pleased to have his endorsement and of course I’m looking for the endorsement of the people of Nevada.”

Last night, rumors swirled around leaks that Trump would endorse Newt Gingrich. The next morning, sources began to confuse the issue by buzzing that Trump would in fact endorse Mitt Romney.

A year ago this month, Trump announced his intention to enter the presidential race to an enthusiastic audience at the American Conservative Union’s 2011 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Washington D.C.  At the time, conservatives hoped that his tough, uncensored criticism of President Obama’s economic policies, and his success as a businessman would make him a strong contender to win back the White House.

As some expected it didn’t take long for his campaign to resemble a public relations ploy – causing him to lose favorability.

In the early stages of their campaigns, each candidate begged and lined up to meet with “The Donald,” hoping to secure an endorsement which at the time would have provided a jolt to any campaign. Trump chose to tease the media and the candidates by withholding his endorsement after the meetings and continued to feed rumors of a third party presidential bid.

The candidates decided to pay back the honor. When Trump announced his intention to host a presidential candidate debate co-sponsored by the conservative magazine Newsmax and ION TV in Des Moines, I.A., on December 27, 2011 – to help him “decide” which candidate will be best for the country – only Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum accepted the invitation. Jon Huntsman and Ron Paul didn’t hide their feelings about the absurdity of having a former candidate “hosting” a debate.

Ron Paul’s campaign issued the following statement saying, “…we have declined to participate in the ‘Presidential Apprentice’ Debate with The Donald. The Republican Party deserves a serious discussion of the issues so voters can choose a leader they trust to defeat President Obama and turn our economy around.”

Jon Huntsman agreed. Sitting down with Martha McCallum on Fox News Live, Huntsman took a shot at Trump saying, “I’m not going to kiss his ring and I’m not going to kiss any other part of his anatomy… If he had any courage at all, he would be running for President of the United States of America, as opposed to manipulating the process from the outside.”

After Michelle Bachmann, Rick Perry, and Mitt Romney also declined to participate in Trump’s debate, the event was called off.

Much like Cain’s endorsement, the media attention is expected to be substantial, but Trump’s popularity with American voters is at an all-time low. Pollster Michael Barone, in an interview earlier today, said “It’s unlikely that you have many voters standing by to see who Donald Trump is going to support.” In a Fox News poll, only 10% of respondents said that Trump’s endorsement will influence their support, while 27% said that it will make them less likely to support that candidate.

Analysts have noted that the endorsement from Trump could make it easier for Romney’s opponents to paint him as the candidate for the very rich.  It follows the former governor telling CNN’s Soledad O’Brien  that he is not very concerned about the “very poor” in America.

With Sheldon Adelson supporting Newt Gingrich, and Donald Trump supporting Romney, the Las Vegas casino moguls are receiving plenty of press coverage before Saturday’s Nevada Caucus. Steve Wynn has yet to make a definitive statement on the matter.

Dmitriy Shapiro can be reached at [email protected] or Follow on Twitter: @dmitriyshapiro