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Tom Tancredo’s exit; Update: Endorses Romney

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By Michelle Malkin  •  December 20, 2007 12:39 PM

Update 6pm Eastern. Much, much more at HA, plus video.

Update 4:35pm Eastern. Tancredo tells Cavuto that Romney’s immigration plan is “viable, that he’ll stick with it, and that he has the best shot.”

Update 3:10pm Eastern. A source tells me Tancredo has endorsed Romney. Still checking.

Yep. More from the Des Moines Register:

U.S. Rep. Tom Tancredo announced today he’s ending his long-shot bid for the White House.

The Colorado Republican made his exit from the race official at a press conference this afternoon in downtown Des Moines. He’ll throw his support behind GOP candidate Mitt Romney, he said.

And via Allah, Rep. Tancredo will be on Neil Cavuto’s show today at 4pm Eastern to talk about his decision.

Will be interesting to see how he squares his endorsement now with his campaign’s criticism of Romney for supporting amnesty in July.

Rep. Steve King endorsed Thompson when Romney expected it. Rep. Tancredo endorsed Romney defying some expectations that Thompson would get his vote.

Lots of interesting back stories to be told someday.

Update 3:03pm Eastern. Tancredo speaks. Despite his warning about the clear and present danger of open borders, his message “has fallen on deaf ears in the highest office of the land.” He’s ecstatic about the fact that great progress has been made during his presidential campaign. “The Tancredo campaign has already won,” he says, quoting Newsweek’s assessment.

***
It’s expected that GOP Rep. Tom Tancredo of Colorado will drop out of the GOP presidential race this afternoon. The “major announcement” will be made in Des Moines at 2pm Central time.

Some observers suggest that Tancredo, like friend and fellow immigration enforcement advocate Iowa GOP Rep. Steve King, might throw his support to Fred Thompson. Would Tancredo’s supporters follow? It’s not a given. Three other candidates–Duncan Hunter, Mitt Romney, and Ron Paul– rank higher than Thompson in Numbers USA’s assessment of the candidates’ proven records on immigration and border security (as opposed to their election-year promises).

Tancredo has led immigration enforcement forces in recent years, but he’s more than a single-issue lawmaker. Among presidential candidates, he scored the highest on the American Conservative Union’s lifetime record ratings. And as National Review former editor John O’Sullivan put it in October when Tancredo announced his retirement from the House:

But immigration is not the sole issue of concern to Tom. He is a conservative across the board. And conservatives who differ with him on immigration can still rest assured that his voice and vote will support their general issues. When the immigration debate took off for the second time two years ago, some on the “open borders” side quietly dismissed Tom as one of the Yahoos who were supposedly the main opponents of the legislation. Tom may occasionally have misspoken, as we all do. But the barnstorming talk he gave to the “values voters” showed that there was real political talent in this modest American. So does his command of his constituency. With almost the entire national, state, and media establishment against him, he still racks up overwhelming victories at home. If he had not decided to retire Congress of his own accord, he could have held the seat until death supervened.

Tancredo’s exit comes as Congress guts the border fence, the Border Patrol remains under siege, and shamnesty proponent John McCain rebounds. Where do conservatives who take homeland security seriously turn?

I don’t need a candidate with whom I agree on 100 percent of the issues. At the very least, however, I’d like a candidate who doesn’t share the Left’s utter contempt for, apathy, or sheer condescension toward grass-roots Republicans and immigration enforcement activists. Character counts. Steadfastness counts. A spine would help. So would genuine passion and energy.

Tom Tancredo has all of that. He’ll continue to play an important role in American life, perhaps in the U.S. Senate. Because of his relentless crusading for secure borders and restoration of the rule of law, immigration will not disappear from the presidential race’s radar screen after his exit–despite the GOP elite’s fervent desire that the issue die down and noisy activists go away.

For that, we owe him great thanks.

***

Here’s Thompson on the campaign trail today, sounding Tancredo-esque.

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