Once again, Donald Trump trumped the rest of the world and made a grand opera out of an otherwise modestly interesting situation.
You may be aware that the Republican party of Nevada is holding its precinct caucuses tomorrow to choose delegates to the GOP national convention in Tampa in August.
There is not the frenzy that attended the Iowa caucuses because there have already been four election events in this GOP primary cycle even though Iowans not only got it wrong on election night, but lost the results of eight precincts and so when they got around to declaring the actual winner to be Rick Santorum (17 years after the event) the Iowa caucuses had no meaning.
And they may never have any meaning again.
Nevertheless, many of us are hoping that, given the training many citizens of Nevada have received to be able to calculate the payout on a hard six at the craps table, or a double-down at the blackjack stand that they will better able to count ballots than their Hawkeye brethren.
Where was I?
Oh, yes. Donald Trump.
I talk to a lot of people each and every day. Elected officials, journalists, senior political hacks, and just folks.
That doesn't mean I have talked to everybody, but of all the people I've talked to I have not had a single one say, "I'm waiting to see who Donald Trump is going to endorse before I decide for whom I'm going to vote."
Or, "… who I'm going to vote for" which is grammatically incorrect but far less stuffy sounding.
So, sometime on Wednesday night the campaign staff of Newt Gingrich began leaking the fact that Gingrich was going to be touched by The Donald on Thursday and receive his endorsement.
No one believes political endorsements mean much - if anything - but like a newspaper's endorsement it is better to get one than for your opponent to get it. Remember that as recently as South Carolina the major newspaper in Columbia, The State, made a passionate case as to why it was endorsing Jon Huntsman just hours before Huntsman withdrew from the race.
Nevertheless, Trump was going to be a big "get" for Gingrich, helping him to make his case that he is the Washington outsider.
All morning the Twitter-verse was quivering with announced Facebook IPO and the expected Trump-Gingrich merger.
The Gingrich-verse was so taken by it that Gingrich cancelled a scheduled meeting with Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval to make room on his schedule for the endorsement event.
About 11 am Eastern time the story began to change as reporters got the word that the Romney campaign was putting a new event on the schedule; presumably the Trump endorsement.
Former U.S. Rep. Bob Walker, who is a senior advisor to the Gingrich campaign said, according to the Wall Street Journal, "he didn't know of any contact between the former speaker's campaign and Mr. Trump's camp that would have caused the false rumor of an endorsement."
Remember that the only reason the Gingrich campaign is still standing is because of the reported infusion of $10 million by Sheldon Adelson who is one of the major players in the casino business on the Las Vegas strip.
Trump - who has casino assets in Atlantic City and a hotel in Las Vegas - turned the entire show into a show about Trump. Romney was scenery.
The Wall Street Journal reported:
Before unveiling his backing of Mitt Romney on live television Thursday afternoon, the real-estate mogul milled around the gilded lobby of the hotel bearing his name, holding multiple impromptu news conferences.
I Tweeted during the day that "On days like this remember that old saying: No matter how sound your position, there is always someone who agrees with you, you wish didn't."
The amount of chaff thrown up by the Trump endorsement might not have meant much in terms of votes, but it did have the beneficial effect of choking off commentary about Romney's clanging statement from the day before about his lack of interest in the very poor.
Even though Romney was obviously saying the poor have a safety net and he was more interested in making certain the middle class didn't descend into the ranks of the poor, it was immediately seized upon by Republicans and Democrats alike.
Romney owes Trump a big thank you, not so much for the endorsement, but for being Donald Trump.
On the Secret Decoder Ring page today: A link to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the Atlantic Magazine's backgrounder on Sheldon Adelson, and to the Wall Street Journal's piece on how Trump made the whole thing about Trump.
Also a Mullfoto from the XM/Sirius studios in Washington, DC and a Catchy Caption of the Day.
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