Republican Presidential Candidates Vie For Game-Changing Endorsements

Less than 50 days before the New Hampshire primary, several Republican presidential candidates are looking for big endorsements that might make a difference in one of the most exciting presidential races in history.

Big names including 2012 GOP nominee Mitt Romney, House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley have yet to endorse in the race.

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), a favorite in New Hampshire who won the state's primary in 2008, also could be looking to endorse after Sen. Lindsey Graham's (R-S.C.) decision on Monday to leave the race.

Polls show businessman Donald Trump, who has dominated the Republican race, with a commanding lead in New Hampshire.

The RealClearPolitics average of polls shows Trump with more than double the support of Sens. Ted Cruz (Texas) and Marco Rubio (Fla.), his nearest competitors. 

Still, there's time for a challenger to topple Trump, expecially if Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) manages to win the Iowa caucuses on Feb. 1.

Neither Cruz nor Trump is a candidate the GOP establishment wants to embrace, leaving several other Republicans to vie for that crown.

Rubio, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and Ohio Gov. John Kasich are all hoping to break out in New Hampshire. 

Here’s a look at the top names who might be able to help them with an endorsement.

John McCain

Graham’s exit from the race on Monday has freed up the GOP’s 2008 nominee to take his support elsewhere and potentially assist in foiling the hopes of Cruz, who he has called a “wacko bird.”

McCain, who has won New Hampshire in two presidential primaries, will make a strong surrogate for someone in the Granite State. He campaigned hard for Graham there, despite the long odds Graham faced.

McCain brings instant credibility among veterans and establishment-minded Republicans alike.

“It’s hard to know if he’s a great endorsement in this era of strong anti-establishment sentiment,” said Republican strategist Ford O’Connell. “But he brings an aura of competence and he’s someone that a lot of mainstream Republicans have confidence in.”

Read more from Jonathan Easley at The Hill

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Analysis & Political Strategy