Jim DeMint is reportedly set to endorse...Mitt Romney, according to a Roll Call.article. Setting aside whether the article is true, would it benefit Romney, or would it harm DeMint?
Mitt Romney is the favorite to receive Sen. Jim DeMint's (R-S.C.) much-sought-after endorsement in the race for the Republican presidential nomination, according to knowledgeable GOP sources.
DeMint, who endorsed the former Massachusetts governor in 2008, made clear in an interview late last week that he has made no decisions on whom he will support in the 2012 primary. But Republican operatives familiar with the DeMint-Romney relationship and privy to the conservative Senator's private assessment of the GOP field believe Romney is the most likely candidate to receive the backing of the tea party favorite.
"Jim is far more likely to endorse Mitt than anyone else currently in the race," a Republican with South Carolina ties said. "Jim is a business guy and that's his background. He's not really the good ol' boy conservative type. So Mitt in a lot of ways is a more comfortable fit for him."
That sounds a bit speculative but let's assume for the sake of discussion that it is correct. It doesn't mean the endorsement would come before the South Carolina primary, where Herman Cain has a distinct opportunity to win the state. Further, just because the Tea Party favorite endorses Romney, it doesn't mean the Tea Party would follow. In fact, it might harm DeMint's credibility with the movement. DeMint is one of the de facto leaders of the Tea Party efforts in Washington. The endorsement doesn't make sense for DeMint personally, and it doesn't make sense for the Tea Party.
Romney would likely benefit very little - DeMint would have to make the case for his endorsement that extends beyond "I know him." From a conservative perspective, there's not much to be offered as a suitable reason. As Newt Gingrich points out - Romney is a Rockefeller Republican (HT: Tina Korbe, Hot Air). He probably can't get much past 25% support during the primaries.
The ONLY argument I can think of for Romney that might be acceptable for the Tea Party is that we can't afford a protracted primary if we are going to defeat Obama. The in-fighting would contrast with his unabated fundraising and leave the GOP in a weaker position in the general election. That might make sense if Obama isn't going to be hard pressed on his side to turn out voters. Enthusiasm is dampened considerably, which is why he's latched on the Occupy Wall Street opportunity. He's got a struggle of his own that he's trying to overcome. In that light, the Romney endorsement doesn't make as much sense.