Newt Gingrich Backer Says More Endorsements Will Come Soon
WASHINGTON -- One of Newt Gingrich's biggest problems so far has been his lack of establishment support. But that should change soon, his main congressional backer, Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.) told The Huffington Post on Tuesday.
Franks said he will meet on Wednesday morning with members of Congress who want to endorse Gingrich, based on increased interest after the former House speaker won the South Carolina primary on Jan. 21.
"I think he will" receive more congressional endorsements, Franks hinted. "I think you'll see probably some of that manifest fairly soon."
He declined to say who they were or in which chamber they serve. "I probably better just let you talk to me tomorrow after about noon," he added.
Adding endorsements could help reinforce Gingrich's new front-runner status after a strong win in South Carolina. In 2011, he was largely counted out of the race for the GOP nomination after his campaign imploded, but he has since bounded back and become a threat to former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney's front-runner's status.
Up until now, though, Gingrich had gained little traction among members of Congress. He did pick up some other endorsements over the past week: Texas Gov. Rick Perry threw support to him after dropping out of the race and former Sen. Fred Thompson, a Republican who represented Tennessee and starred in "Law & Order," endorsed him on Monday.
Franks was an early adopter, of sorts. He endorsed Gingrich just eight days before the South Carolina primary, after having previously supported Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) for president.
"America cannot afford another four years of Barack Obama, which is why conservatives must unite now around the one candidate who can offer the clearest contrasts with Barack Obama," he said in a statement at the time. "That person is Newt Gingrich."
Franks repeated on Tuesday that he expects Gingrich to win the Florida primary, a statement he also made after Gingrich won Saturday's South Carolina primary.
"I was astonished to see him leading in the [Florida] polls this quickly," he told The Huffington Post on Tuesday.
The Huffington Post asked Franks if he had pressed former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum to step aside in favor of Gingrich. He declined to go into details, but said, "I have spoken to Rick directly."
"I'm not going to characterize the conversation, but I spoke to him in South Carolina, face-to-face," he added. "We're friends, and I think he's a hero, and I have nothing but good to say about him."
Franks declined to say whether he will campaign on the road with Gingrich again. But he said he thinks Gingrich's ideas will help him to solidify support among Republicans, citing "his ability to discern the fallacy in the left-wing dialogue and rhetoric and be able to turn it around in a way that people can see it for what it is."
Added Franks. "And [he can] respond in a way that makes sense to people is an asymmetric capability that very few candidates can even dream of having."
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