Was the Dobson Endorsement Story Bogus?

Posted: Nov 13, 2007 8:25 AM

Marc Ambinder sheds light on something I touched on the other day:

Rumor: Despite the denials, James Dobson is on the verge of endorsing Mike Huckabee.

Truth: This column was among the lucky few who heard the original rumor on Friday, but, because it could not get an independent source, did not go with the story. Tom Minnery, Dobson's chief political aide, reinforced the denial today with me. And on his radio show this morning, Dobson said he was nowhere near endorsing anyone.

It should be noted that I reported this story as a rumor.  Still, I hear lots of rumors every day.  So why did I deem this one worthy of mentioning?

Campaigns are about managing expectations, so the fact that Huckabee's staff did not seek to tamp down expectations gave the story a sense of legitimacy.  (In fact, as I recall, they sort of hinted the rumors were true.)

If Huckabee's staff knew this was just a rumor, they would have been well advised to say so -- loudly.  Now, they have created a no-win situation; we are expecting Huckabee to get the Dobson endorsement, so an endorsement would be old news.  And even worse, an endorsement of someone else would now be seen as a rejection of Huckabee.

Assuming this is just a rumor, my mistake was in thinking Huckabee's staff would be using the "professional operatives' playbook."  

It will be interesting to see who finally gets the Dobson nod ...