TURNING POINT? JUNE HAS BEEN GOOD TO BLUNT
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U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft's enthusiastic backing of Roy Blunt's campaign for U.S. Senate caps off several weeks of top-tier GOP endorsements for the Ozarks Congressman that are meant to solidify party unity and thwart the perception that Blunt isn't the best candidate to battle Democrat Robin Carnahan in 2010.
"I don't know of any person that I would have more ability to be confident -- that satisfaction would be guaranteed -- than my ability to call on Roy to serer to represent us as the Senator in the U.S. Senate," Ashcroft said at the Greene County Sheriff's Department in Springfield Monday afternoon.
Ashcroft's endorsement comes just two days after Lieutenant Governor Peter Kinder and former Sen. Jim Talent threw their support behind Blunt in St. Louis. Eleven days ago Blunt won the backing of former Sen. Jack Danforth and U.S. ambassador Tom Schweich, who was contemplating his own campaign for U.S. Senate.
If April and May were turbulent periods for the Blunt campaign, June has served as a rebound.
Though predicting the political moves of Sarah Steelman is a foolish parlor game, Republicans now believe a Senate candidacy is less likely than ever before. And while the endorsements from establishment Republicans are not surprising, they have helped stem the tide of negative Blunt stories and toned down his critics.
These developments also highlight the behind-the-scenes political skills of Blunt to cash in on long-time alliances and cut deals in the clutch.
Despite the predictions, daily chatter and back and forth about a Blunt-Carnahan match-up, some of the smartest political observers believe that much of what happens now won't matter as much politically as President Obama's standing in the country come fall 2010.
Repeating what is probably his strongest argument for his election, Blunt noted Monday that the "balance of power" argument will be a very persuasive one for many Missourians.
But that debate won't be joined for months.
For now, an endorsement from a former Governor and U.S. Senator in "Ashcroftland" sends the signal to conservative Republicans that Blunt is not only an acceptable candidate -- but one necessary to unite behind this early in order to have a chance at beating back a Democratic super majority.
"We will have a stronger Senate. We will make better decisions in the United State of America with Roy Blunt in the U.S. Senate," Ashcroft said.