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High-profile GOP endorsements still to come, and they could affect the race in big way

Published: Thursday, Dec. 1 2011 9:19 a.m. MST

In this June 2, 2011, file photo former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, holding a booklet depicting Paul Revere, speaks briefly with the media as she tours Boston's North End neighborhood. At right is Palin's daughter Piper.

Associated Press

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With only five weeks until the Iowa caucuses, GOP candidates are scrambling to persuade undecided voters to choose them. To this end, one of the most important tools they have is the endorsement of other prominent conservatives.

Three of the most influential figures in Republican politics have yet to announce who they will support. Here we speculate as to who might receive their nod of approval.

Sarah Palin: Though her power among right-leaning voters has eroded in the recent months, the former Alaska governor still delivers "a sizeable army of supporters" says the Telegraph. Her supporters include both tea party activists and social conservatives.

Though she likes to keep her cards close to her chest, at least one news source reports that Gingrich is most likely to win Palin's endorsement. On the other hand, she was a key backer in Rick Perry's 2010 primary against Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas), which means Perry is certainly on her radar.

Mike Huckabee: Huckabee remains an influential figure in the GOP. His support for a candidate carries weight with social conservatives, who account for a large number of the party's Iowa caucus-goers. Polls show Huckabee enjoys goodwill from his 2008 presidential bid. People trust him, which means his endorsement has weight.

Despite rumors of bad blood between the two, it seems Huckabee is warming up to the idea of a Romney presidency, reports the Globe and Mail. He invited Romney onto his Fox News show and gave him a friendly platform to explain his social conservatism. Moreover, he defended Romney for changing his policy positions, an issue that does not sit will with conservatives who see him as inconsistent.

Jim DeMint: Although he has said he won't publicly support a candidate, as a high-profile Republican with tea party ties, DeMint's endorsement means something. Case in point: In 2010 he threw GOP primaries in several states into disarray when he endorsed tea party candidates over establishment Republicans. DeMint's tea party candidates went on to win their primaries and in many cases public office.

DeMint backed Romney in 2008. Given that his focus in recent years has been to purge the Republican party of its moderate factions, it seems unlikely that Romeny will get his nod this time around. Romney's unwillingness to denounce his Massachusetts health care plan sealed his fate, reported "The Hill" blog. Gingrich or Perry, who are seen as soft on immigration, are also unlikely candidates for DeMint's coveted support.

EMAIL: mwhite@desnews.com

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