What happened
Republican presidential candidate Tom Tancredo, whose major contribution to the GOP field was a hard-line stance against illegal immigration, dropped out of the race and endorsed Mitt Romney. (The Des Moines Register) He said the surge of former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee had hastened his decision to quit before the Iowa caucus. “Somebody’s going to win this race,” Tancredo said. “It’s not going to be me, so really what you’re looking for is that person you hope and pray will carry on.” (The New York Times)
What the commentators said
Tancredo left a strong mark on the campaign by getting the Republican candidates to take “the anti-immigration sentiment they heard on talk radio” seriously, said Marc Ambinder in The Atlantic. At least four GOP candidates have had to change their tune on immigration, including Huckabee, and now “even Democrats call for border security first.” But as they try to “out-Tancredo each other,” the Republicans may have “irreparably damaged” their party’s Hispanic outreach efforts.
He may have started the conversation, but “Tancredo’s blind rage against Huckabee seemed to have gotten the better of his judgment,” said Dana Milbank in The Washington Post. Does he really think Romney is more reliably anti-immigrant than Huckabee, who “was tough enough on immigration to win the support of the border-vigilante Minuteman Project”?
“Tancredo’s influence on immigration extends far beyond the 1 percent he attracted as a presidential candidate,” said Ed Morrissey in his Captain’s Quarters blog. His immigration credentials make his endorsement count, and the fact that “he feels comfortable enough with Romney” on “the issue which ranks among the highest for Republicans” should give a boost to the Romney camp.
Whether or not his endorsement helps Romney, “Tom Tancredo didn’t only end his own candidacy today. He killed Fred Thompson’s as well,” said Chadwick Matlin in Slate’s Trailhead blog. If Tancredo had endorsed Thompson’s flagging presidential bid, “Fred would have picked up a signature policy platform—something he currently lacks.” Instead, “Thompson is once again left without any purpose.”