Is Newt Gingrich about to get a major boost with the endorsement of former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani?
There is nothing official yet, but all the signs are there that “America’s Mayor” is ready to throw his considerable clout behind the former House speaker just in time for the vital Jan. 31 Florida primary.
And if he does, it could provide a huge boost for Gingrich, who is running nearly 20 points behind Mitt Romney in the Sunshine State.
“A Giuliani endorsement would be very, very helpful [in] Florida because of the number who originate from the Northeast, especially New York,” pollster Matt Towery, a Gingrich ally, tells Newsmax.
“These are people who are not so socially conservative and would probably be considering supporting Romney, so it would have a huge effect.”
In recent weeks Giuliani has made several pro-Gingrich statements. On Monday he told CNN’s Piers Morgan that many of Romney’s attacks on Gingrich have been “horrible” and “unfair.”
“The sheer amount of it, and the fact that’s it being done by a [super] PAC and then Mitt Romney is sort of separating himself from it – a lot of that can get you very angry.
“Newt should contain that anger and he should stick with intellectually honest attacks on Romney.”
In a December interview on the same show, Giuliani said, “My gut tells me right now, as I look at it, that Gingrich might actually be the stronger candidate.” Gingrich at the time was dropping fast in the polls and the conventional wisdom was that his candidacy was in deep trouble.
But Giuliani stood fast. “He can make a broader connection than Mitt Romney to those Reagan Democrats,” he said. “You won’t have this barrier of possible elitism that I think Obama could exploit pretty effectively.”
Giuliani praised Gingrich’s “common touch,” saying, “He’s able to talk to people. He comes from a poor family, understands poverty from that point of view. He doesn’t come from the American elite; it’s going to be hard to paint him that way.”
Giuliani’s endorsement is one of the most sought-after by the GOP candidates. Last month the Daily Beast called him “one of the most in-demand surrogates in the Republican field, broadly popular with the base while retaining an ability to connect with independents.”
“Giuliani’s endorsement can still pack a punch and get voters’ attention, especially in swing states,” wrote John Avlon, a former Giuliani staffer. “Crucially, he retains credibility with both establishment and insurgent Republicans. Both Gingrich and Romney would benefit from his endorsement, big-time.”
Three polls have been released in Florida in the past week. Romney’s lead over Gingrich varied between 15 and 26 percentage points. But polling for all three was substantially completed before Gingrich’s huge surge in South Carolina, which started with his stellar performance in Monday’s debate.
Towery pointed out there is no love lost between Guiliani and Romney. Even though both are seen as being in the moderate wing of the Republican party, their rivalry as apparent front-runners allowed Mike Huckabee to win the 2008 Iowa caucuses and then let John McCain win the nomination.
“I certainly wouldn’t be surprised if Giuliani endorsed Newt,” Towery added. “And it would give an additional lift to him, especially in counties like Broward, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach, which people think of a as big Democratic enclaves, but actually are filled with a lot of Republicans.”