Does Gushing Count as an Endorsement?

A few months ago, Richard Land appeared on “Hard Ball with Chris Matthews” where he repeatedly stated “I don‘t endorse candidates.”  Of course, that hasn’t stopped him from “negatively endorsing” potential nominees such as Rudy Giuliani and Newt Gingrich.

But while Land may not have technically “endorsed” any Republican presidential hopeful, it is becoming increasingly clear that he is enthusiastically supporting Fred Thompson’s campaign.  So enamored with Thompson is Land, in fact, that his relentless campaign to heap praise upon him is becoming somewhat embarrassing and calling into question his claim that he doesn’t endorse candidates. 

For instance, when James Dobson questioned whether Thompson was sufficiently Christian, Land came to Thompson’s defense, praising him as a “Southern-fried Reagan” and saying that to “see Fred work a crowd must be what it was like to watch Rembrandt paint.”

Since then, Land has been Thompson’s number one fan, introducing him before he addressed the right-wing Council for National Policy and more recently riding to his rescue after it was reported that Thompson had once lobbied for a pro-choice group, gushing to CBN’s David Brody that he has “never seen anything like this grassroots swell for Thompson” and telling WORLD Magazine that the candidate would be “red meat” for conservative Republican primary voters. 

And when the Washington Post recently ran a story about the impact Thompson’s past lobbying might have on his support among right-wing voters, there was Land again to praise him as the second coming of Reagan and the great right-wing hope:

Richard Land, an official with the nation’s Southern Baptists, called the video “stunning in its strong, pro-life message.”

“I’m around a lot of Baptists,” Land said. “They find Fred Thompson to be a tantalizing combination of charisma, conviction and electability. He’s got a Reaganesque ability to connect with ordinary folk that is powerful.”

Land added: “He also has the same Teflon coating that Reagan had: Bad stuff just doesn’t stick.”

It is getting to the point where Land would be better off just dropping the claim that he doesn’t endorse candidates and admit that he is endorsing Thompson, as he claims of neutrality and nonpartisanship are becoming increasingly dubious.