For better or worse, Donald Trump sure knows how to put on a show. The real estate mogul, reality TV judge, and tabloid staple spent the better part of last year flirting with a presidential run. Once he bowed out, Trump then entertained the political affections of several GOP candidates who came to New York to kiss his ring, and even considered hosting his own debate. Early Thursday morning, many politicos believed Trump had finally decided to endorse Newt Gingrich. Instead, he surprised the political world by backing Mitt Romney at a crowded Las Vegas event. "Mitt is tough," Trump said. "He is smart," and "it is my honor, real honor, and privilege to endorse Mitt Romney." Many pundits are debating whether an endorsement from the polarizing Trump is "a blessing or a curse" for Romney. Should Mitt be glad to receive the thumbs up from Trump?
This could hurt Romney: Trump's endorsement is "a poisoned chalice at best," says Evan McMorris-Santoro at Talking Points Memo. Trump's polarizing statements — including outrageous claims that Obama's birth certificate is "a forgery" and that the president is "ignoring Christmas in favor of Kwanzaa" — might "drag down his chosen candidate." Remember, last year a Fox News poll showed that only 6 percent of voters would be positively swayed by a Trump endorsement, while 31 percent said Trump's backing would make them less likely to support a candidate.
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Nonsense. This helps Romney: What "a big win" for Mitt, says Rodger Jones at The Dallas Morning News. Newt may boast endorsements from Rick Perry and Herman Cain, but Trump's nod of approval is worth more than those two former candidates combined. Trump is a showman who thrives on publicity. "Americans are drawn to that audacity, and it will translate into votes for his endorsee." The Donald's backing could also sway Gingrich voters who worry Mitt won't be tough enough on Obama. "Trump's voice in the Romney corner" will ensure that sharp jabs at the president will come at a breakneck pace, and, better yet, won't be attributed directly to Mitt.
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The big winner? Donald Trump: Don't be fooled into thinking this is some sort of critical "celebrity endorsement" for Romney, says Aaron Blake at The Washington Post. This is a "me for me" endorsement, one that "helps the endorser more than the endorsee." Sure, Romney will appreciate having the support of someone with such a "sizable microphone." But for Trump, this is just another way to build his political brand and draw attention to himself. "In other words, Trump wants to make this endorsement more than Romney wants it."
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