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Tancredo Endorsement a Boost to Romney on Key Issue of Immigration

Rep. Tom Tancredo (Colo.) today ended his long-shot bid for the 2008 GOP presidential nomination and threw his support to Mitt Romney.

Tom Tancredo
Rep. Tom Tancredo leaves the podium Thursday after announcing in Des Moines that he will withdraw from the 2008 presidential race. (AP Photo)

Tancredo's biggest impact on the field came as he bowed out of a contest that he never had any real chance of winning. Tancredo had made tough stand on immigration the centerpiece and organizing principle of his campaign, and his endorsement of Romney could prove a powerful validator of the former governor's bona fides on the issue.

Of the Tancredo endorsement, Romney said: " While we don't agree on every issue, we agree on the need to keep America strong. I look forward to working with him and other Republicans to achieve that end."

In announcing his decision today, Tancredo acknowledged that he had always faced "incredibly long odds" in the race, adding that he's dropping out with the satisfaction of having influenced the larger debate over immigration. "I am ecstatic about the fact that we can say we have made progress along those lines."

In The Post's most recent Iowa poll -- released last night -- 3 in 10 Iowa Republicans ranked immigration as either the first or second most important issue in deciding their vote. The war in Iraq placed second (19 percent) while terrorism/national security was third (17 percent).

Thanks to the consolidation of social conservative support, Mike Huckabee has surged to the lead in Iowa. But in an effort to cut into Huckabee's support, Romney has spent much of the past two weeks attacking Huckabee over his record on immigration as governor of Arkansas.

Tancredo's endorsement of Romney is likely to reinforce the notion that the Iowa caucus race has become two-person affair. Former Sen. Fred Thompson (Tenn.) looks well positioned to place third; he had a strong showing in last week's Des Moines Register debate and won the endorsement of Rep. Steve King -- a hard liner on illegal immigration -- earlier this week.

As for Tancredo, he had previously announced he would not run for reelection to his 6th District House seat in Colorado, to which he was elected in 1998. Tancredo's outspoken criticism of the Bush administration and focus on the issue of illegal immigration defined his time in Congress.

By Chris Cillizza  |  December 20, 2007; 3:37 PM ET
Categories:  Eye on 2008  
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