Former Kansas Senator and 1996 GOP presidential nominee Bob Dole has endorsed former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney for the 2012 Republican nomination. The question now becomes: will Dole’s endorsement prove to be political Viagra for Romney?
Former Kansas Senator and 1996 GOP presidential nominee Bob Dole endorsed Mitt Romney Sunday in an advertisement in the state’s largest newspaper.
In a half-page ad in the Des Moines Register, Dole wrote an “Open Letter to Iowa Voters” urging voters to lend their support to Romney ahead of the state’s caucuses in just over two weeks.
“A number of my friends are currently candidates seeking the GOP nomination. But the time has now come for us to decide who among them can defeat Barack Obama in 2012. I’ve made my decision, and I believe our best hope lies in Governor Mitt Romney,” Dole writes in the letter. “I’ve run for president myself and twice I had the deep honor of finishing first in the Iowa caucuses. I have many friends in the state. Some of them even call me the president of Iowa. When I say that Mitt Romney is the kind of man that Iowans should support, I know whereof I speak.”
Dole also praises Romney’s work at the Salt Lake City Winter Olympics in 2002 and his time as the governor of Massachusetts.
He ends the letter with this note to caucus-goers: “And one last point: When it comes to agricultural policy, you can trust Mitt-I do.”
During the last cycle, Dole backed Romney’s competitor John McCain, who went on to be the party’s nominee. Romney came under criticism when he said that Dole–who had written a letter to Rush Limbaugh in support of McCain–was “probably the last person I would have wanted to write a letter for me.”
As Rick Perry would say: “Oops!”
Dole still has creds with many GOPers, even though he didn’t win the election. He’s of the “old school” of Republicanism — where people coudl reach across the aisle yet still maintain their healthy partisanship. He also worked in Congress at a time when he got to know Gingrich (yet another person familiar with Gingrich who isn’t endorsing him).
A personal note: when I was in Kansas working as a reporter for Knight-Ridder’s Wichita Eagle from 1980-1982 Dole was the Senator. He was truly loved in the state. I covered one of his press conference and he was a serious, issue-oriented person. (This post is written from Kansas as I head back to San Diego after completing a three month tour on the East Coast and Midwest). Dole became a punch line when he became a spokesman for Viagra, but he got a lot of mileage out of it (perhaps in more ways than one).
Joe Gandelman is a former fulltime journalist who freelanced in India, Spain, Bangladesh and Cypress writing for publications such as the Christian Science Monitor and Newsweek. He also did radio reports from Madrid for NPR’s All Things Considered. He has worked on two U.S. newspapers and quit the news biz in 1990 to go into entertainment. He also has written for The Week and several online publications, did a column for Cagle Cartoons Syndicate and has appeared on CNN.