Douglas says he won’t endorse before Vt.’s GOP presidential primary

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(Host) Governor Jim Douglas says he won’t be endorsing any Republican presidential candidates before Vermont’s Town Meeting Day primary election.

That’s because Douglas says he’s not very excited about any of the candidates in the GOP field.

But Douglas says there’s no doubt that he’ll be supporting the party’s presidential nominee in the general election.

VPRs Bob Kinzel reports:

(Kinzel) It’s getting to be crunch time for the presidential candidates. In just a month, the Iowa caucuses will take place, and in less than five weeks, voters will go to the polls in New Hampshire.

In these final weeks, the candidates are scrambling to get as many endorsements as they can at the local, state and federal level.

Despite this flurry of activity, it’s unlikely that any Republican presidential candidate will win the endorsement of Governor Jim Douglas:

(Douglas)"I guess if I felt strongly about somebody I would have embraced him by now but I really don’t. So- I don’t know – we’ve got until early March for the Vermont primary."

Douglas says he feels that most of the Republican candidates would be good presidents but he says he has disagreements with all of them:

(Douglas) "But there are a number of issues in which I don’t agree with one or the other and although I think they’re all fine people – I know a number of them quite well – I’m going to hold my fire at this point and stay on the sidelines."

Douglas says he has no plans to endorse any candidate before Vermont’s primary. He says it’s possible that the GOP race could still be in play at that time:

(Douglas)"I don’t know if we’re going to have a winner. Everybody says by the first of February it will be clear – it may or may not be."

Middlebury College political science professor Eric Davis thinks there’s a good reason for Douglas’s caution:

(Davis)"It’s difficult for any governor of either party to get involved in a primary race because if the candidate you endorse ends up not winning the nomination then you may be in a somewhat difficult position with the party’s eventual nominee."

And Davis says there may be other reasons why Douglas is playing it safe:

(Davis)"People back home are going to be divided among support of the various candidates, so there’s perhaps not necessarily any benefit for endorsing a candidate before the primary."

The Vermont presidential primary will be held on Tuesday, March 4th.

For VPR News I’m Bob Kinzel in Montpelier.


AP Photo/Toby Talbot

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