July 6th, 2007
09:19 AM ET
9 years ago

Gephardt endorses Clinton, but will it matter?

Gephardt will throw his support behind Clinton Thursday.

WASHINGTON (CNN) - Another big-name endorsement for Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton. Former House Democratic Leader Dick Gephardt announced his support for the junior senator from New York Thursday.

The long-time former congressman from Missouri could help Clinton out in the neighboring state of Iowa, which kicks off the presidential primary calendar. Gephardt’s a known commodity in Iowa. He won the Iowa caucuses when he first ran for president in 1988. But Gephardt didn’t fare nearly as well in Iowa when he made another stab at the White House in 2004. That year, he dropped his bid one day after finishing fourth in the caucuses.

The larger question concerning these big-name endorsements: do they really matter? The answer, as in many things in politics, is yes and no.

Campaigns love to unveil these big-name endorsements because, as political analyst Stuart Rothenberg says, “They are trying to create a sense of momentum, a sense of a bandwagon effect.”

But do they? Endorsements are successful only if they pay off. Rothenberg says “endorsements can matter if they can somehow translate into fundraising, or if they can somehow transfer into grassroots support.”

Whether they actually do is another matter.

“In high-profile races where voters see and hear candidates on a regular basis and evaluate them for themselves, endorsements don’t matter for a lick,” says Rothenberg. And sometimes they can backfire.

Remember who spoke these dramatic words: “I’m very proud and honored to endorse Howard Dean to be the next President of the United States of America.”

That was former Vice President Al Gore, officially throwing his support behind then-Democratic presidential frontrunner Dean in December 2003. The Dean camp saw Gore’s endorsement as a sign that the mainstream of the Democratic Party was backing the former Vermont governor’s grassroots campaign.

“But some people apparently saw that as Howard Dean as no longer the insurgent reform candidate, that he’s part of the establishment, and they saw that as an unappealing quality,” says Rothenberg.

Just one month later, Dean lost in Iowa and New Hampshire, and dropped out shortly afterwards.

Endorsements have the most impact in lower-profile elections, when voters don’t know the candidates very well. In such cases, voters often rely quite heavily on endorsements.

But running for president ain’t the same as running for the school board.

- CNN Deputy Political Director Paul Steinhauser

Filed under: Hillary Clinton
soundoff (25 Responses)
  1. JLE, Seattle WA

    Hillary Clinton voted for the Iraq War.

    July 5, 2007 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  2. maryann flaker dayton ohio

    stupid stupid, smug adminitraton, worse in US history

    July 5, 2007 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  3. Mike, Osceola, IN

    Is Gephardt hoping to be her running mate?

    July 5, 2007 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  4. stophillary-boohootitty

    Uh, so?

    July 5, 2007 03:21 pm at 3:21 pm |
  5. Providence, RI

    Hillary voted for the war, but she would not have voted for the war if she knew what she knows now. She said it over and over and over...

    July 5, 2007 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  6. Tom - Dedham, Mass

    Do I need to again post her quotes long before Bush, long after Bush and right after Saddam fell?

    She was being a follower then, but she is just a liar now.

    Obama is looking better all the time, just wait till the Clinton machine starts dropping stories about him to the all to obliging media.

    July 5, 2007 03:58 pm at 3:58 pm |
  7. Kyu Reisch, Radcliff, Kentucky

    Dear Mr. Dick Gephardt;
    Thanks your endorsement for Hillary Clinton. You are right, she is the champion working families and deserved in white House. You are a great public service person and very wiseman. I respect you and remember you. You will be proud of youself and America soon.

    July 5, 2007 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  8. Jon, Sacramento ~ Ca

    I suspect Mr Gephardt is hoping for Hillary to win so he can get back into Congress. Granted he will have to be a carpet-bagger and transfer up to NY... but hey it worked for Hillary!

    July 5, 2007 05:43 pm at 5:43 pm |
  9. Anonymous

    Senior Democratic politicians have nothing to lose by endorsing Clinton, even if she loses to one of the others they can hardly be blamed for endorsing the frontrunner. What's interesting is the timing. It seems a bit early for endorsements, now that Clinton has decided to stake her political future on a decisive win in Iowa she will pull out all the stops, look for a bunch of these endorsements in the next couple of months. Unfortunately, it does not change the underlying weaknesses (the Iraq vote, the negative parts of her husband's legacy, her image as a cynical political insider) with her campaign but only confirms what we already know–that she is the establishment candidate. Better news for her is the fairly positive response she has gotten on the campaign trail.

    July 5, 2007 06:35 pm at 6:35 pm |
  10. dlake

    Funny how the media is playing up some endorsement from Gephart but, not a word was mentioned that Daschel endorses Obama.
    How about the media stop cheerleading for Clinton and start being more fair

    July 5, 2007 07:21 pm at 7:21 pm |
  11. Ann Brunswick ME

    That's not news, CNN. Talk about Obama, not Hill/Billy.

    July 5, 2007 08:10 pm at 8:10 pm |
  12. Kyu Reisch, Radcliff, Kentucky

    Dlake, why media is playing edorsement for Hillary Clinton? Because media knew who is the most qualified candidate, endorsed individuals are great men and women who trust by Americans, so it is the most valuable to report. Media is very fair, they are playing Obama all the time, even it is not worthy, like quit smoking, 32M, check other candidate's background, his mistake, apology etc.... I am reading Washingtonpost, NEWYORKTIMES, Foxnews and CNNNews every morning and night. You go check how many times Obama's name is on it. I am already sick and tired to see his crafty smile.

    July 5, 2007 09:15 pm at 9:15 pm |
  13. Jeff Spangler, Arlington, VA

    Has-been supports can't-be. Don't matter.

    July 5, 2007 09:39 pm at 9:39 pm |
  14. Alex, New Orleans

    If Obama's inexperienced staff don't know how to get media attention for their endorsements I hardly think you should blame the media or the pros in the Clinton campaign. The fact that Daschle went unnoticed by most goes back to Obama's big problem: he's not ready for prime time. His ego and ambition far outpace his experience and skills. "vehicle" for my dreams, indeed, his arrogance is revealing.

    July 6, 2007 12:35 am at 12:35 am |
  15. William Henry Childers, Palm Springs, CA

    Endorsements are like job apps. Furthermore, Hillary Clinton is part of a corrupt elite that gangsters power going back to Bubba's nascent Arkansas days. For anyone to believe that she (and all of the so-called frontrunners)is not a natural born liar is naïve. She was part of the dismal administration that ranted about Iraq's terrorist ties, and one of the many senators (despite her membership on the intelligence committee) that did NOT read the full reports before voting to give the president war authority. Is this incompetence? Probably it was long term political strategy. Remember, that was a time when she needed to appear more 'hawkish' to look more presidential. Puke before you get poisoned by the propaganda. These front runners want nothing more than status quo and front row seats for themselves and their cronies, all at the common American's expense! I urge everyone, if they are truly a Washington-Jefferson-Jackson-Lincoln-Kennedy American, investigate Ron Paul and learn about an authentic political philosopher, something we have not had since JFK.

    July 6, 2007 02:12 am at 2:12 am |
  16. Mary, Beaver, PA

    So, was Hillary stupid for supporting the war in the first place? There were people who saw through Bush's lies right from the start. (Remember, the UN weapons inspectors had said at the time that they had found no WMD's in Iraq.) No, she wasn't stupid, just hopping on the pro-war bandwagon because it was popular at the time. How quickly people forget how popular it was at the time. Those of us who were called “traitors” then for opposing it and saying that it was a grave mistake are still waiting for an apology. As for those who were fooled into supporting it, you will be fooled again. And again and again. Because you never learn. Because you think with your gut instead of your head. Oh yes, back to the media sweetheart, Hillary Clinton. She will say whatever it takes to get her what she wants. And millions will fall for it just like they fall for everything else.

    July 6, 2007 08:04 am at 8:04 am |
  17. Robert, Cleveland, OH

    Obama is useless. He's inexperienced, he talks too much and whatever ultraliberals want to beleive, he's unelectable in general election. Put him against Guliany or McCain and majority who now "vote" for him in polls, will scratch theire heads and vote for somebody else. Can you seriously imagine him as president? Clinton is the best bet bot for DP and for the country as a president and a real good one.

    July 6, 2007 09:35 am at 9:35 am |
  18. Richard, Ewing, Nj


    Maybe because "Dick Gephart > Tom Daschel"?

    Responding to the article, I do not think political endorsement matters to most people.

    July 6, 2007 10:01 am at 10:01 am |
  19. E.Carvalho - Baltimore, MD

    I do not care for Gephardt at all. If he endorsed Hillary, i will look into another candidate. Dick G. is no good

    July 6, 2007 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  20. Max, Austin, TX

    Gephardt? So, what? The arrogance of "endorsing" a candidate is beyond compare. Is this guy trying to be relevant?

    Based upon Obama's fundraising, the Bill-ary Machine is about to take its slash-and-burn, hold-no-prisoners attacks to the Obama camp.

    July 6, 2007 11:09 am at 11:09 am |
  21. Benjamin B - Chicago, IL

    Hillary is not the kind of person that we need in office. We need someone bridges the partisan gap, is honest, has integrity and thinks, acts and speaks with the American people in mind - not private interests, not foreign corporations, and most of all not the interests of the few over the many.

    I believe that Hillary we simply be more of the same. She's already proved it with her selling herself out to the private health care industry. Moreover, she caved to the disgraceful nature of the CNN Democratic candidate debate - with their non-obscured and divisive use of religious pandering to drill candidates on their religious beliefs. Have these people even heard of the separation between church and state?

    We need someone like Barack Obama, Ron Paul, Dennis Kucinich or Mike Gravel. People who are more free from the political machine, people who have The People's interests in mind - and not the padding of their wallets.

    July 6, 2007 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  22. Linda, Chandler AZ

    In a word...no. It won't matter.

    July 6, 2007 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
  23. Linda, Chandler AZ

    Excuse me, Robert from Cleveland, but you need to get your facts straight. ALL the polls taken so far show only ONE democratic candidate can beat ALL of the potential republican nominees in the general election. And it's not Hillary Clinton. It's Barack Obama....the next president of the United States.

    July 6, 2007 03:57 pm at 3:57 pm |
  24. Jimmy, Springfield, IL

    Hillary voted for the war but let's face it: After 9/11, who would be comfortable seeing Saddam in charge of a State like Iraq? Come off it: You can post all the bile you've got against Hill but she'll make a better US President than Barack, Rudy, mccain or the hosts of others.
    Like we all know, she'll be ready to lead from Day one. Just think of what could have happened in Britain a day after Blair left 10 Downing Street? Do Americans want a terrorist threat on Jan 22, 2009 while Barack would be settling down to understand the workings of the Presidency?

    July 7, 2007 07:05 am at 7:05 am |