2008 Republican presidential nominee Senator John McCain from Arizona announced this week he would not be making an endorsement in the 2012 presidential race in the Republican primary.
McCain told Politico, “I think I’m staying out of this for the first time in many years.” In abstaining from presidential politics, McCain may be depriving some of his closest political allies a major campaign boost.
One potential recipient of a McCain endorsement could have been former running mate Sarah Palin whose presidential hopes may depend on polling numbers in early primary states. McCain’s blessing would have given needed credibility to Palin’s campaign, which will need to reach beyond the former governor’s loyal base of pro-life supporters and Tea Party activists.
The endorsement may also have gone to McCain’s Senate colleague, pro-life Sen. John Thune of South Dakota.
With much lower national name recognition than Palin, Thune would have benefited from McCain’s endorsement. An early endorsement from McCain may have elevated Thune from merely the talk of political junkies to a real contender for the nomination. Senator Thune, who received a 100% rating from the National Right to Life Committee, has not yet announced his intentions though some reports indicate he would rather continue his work in the US Senate than run for president.
Another likely recipient of Sen. McCain’s endorsement could have been pro-life former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty.
In 2008, Pawlenty was frequently mentioned as a potential running mate for McCain. Creating national buzz with the release of his book Courage to Stand, Pawlenty’s star is on the rise in the GOP presidential field. Like Thune, the high-profile endorsement from McCain would have given Pawlenty a boost in early primary states. While Pawlenty has not officially announced a presidential bid, he has made numerous visits to early primary states like Iowa. Polling for the early contests has Pawlenty’s stock on the rise. With or without McCain’s endorsement, Pawlenty will still be one to watch.