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Newt Gets Trumped: The Donald Endorses Romney

Heads were spinning faster than roulette wheels when news reports surfaced that Donald Trump was endorsing Newt Gingrich, then said he was backing Mitt Romney for the GOP presidential nomination.

In the end, the casino mogul and reality TV star said the front-running Republican candidate was his man.

Businessman Donald Trump shakes hands with Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney after announcing his endorsement of Romney at Trump International Hotel & Tower on February 2, 2012 in Las Vegas.
Photo: Stan Honda | AFP | Getty Images
Businessman Donald Trump shakes hands with Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney after announcing his endorsement of Romney at Trump International Hotel & Tower on February 2, 2012 in Las Vegas.

"It's my honor and privilege to endorse Mitt Romney," Trump told reporters Thursday afternoon in Las Vegas, with Romney standing nearby. "He's tough, he's smart, he's sharp. ... So Governor Romney, go out and get 'em."

The New York TimesandThe Associated Press, citing Gingrich campaign officials, said Wednesday night that the reality TV show host would announce his endorsement of the former House speaker on Thursday in Las Vegas.

The website POLITICO also reported it, but on Thursday, it backtracked. Citing Matt Drudge of the website Drudge Report, who has a relationship with top Romney officials, POLITICO's Maggie Haberman said Trump actually was endorsing Romney.

By late Thursday morning, the AP went 180 degrees, citing three Republican sources as saying Trump will endorse Romney. And the Times' headline was changed to "Gingrich's Flashy New Endorsement Is Not to Be."

The media reports followed a statement Wednesday from Trump spokesman Michael Cohen, who said "The Apprentice" host would be making "a major announcement" at the Trump International Hotel & Tower on Thursday pertaining to the presidential race.

Two days before the Nevada GOP caucuses, a poll by the Las Vegas Review-Journal found that Romney held a commanding 45 percent to 25 percent lead over Gingrich among the state's Republicans.

Asked about the possible endorsement Wednesday in Reno, Nev., Gingrich said he had "no idea what the Donald is going to do."

"He is always interesting," Gingrich said, according to AP. "And I don't know of anybody who does a better job of getting attention by announcing that he will presently announce something."

The Times' spin on the situation was: "The confusion may reinforce impressions of disarray in the Gingrich campaign in Nevada." It noted that the timing came days after Gingrich's drubbing in the Florida primary and then a canceled meeting with Nevada Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval because of a scheduling conflict.

Now the question is: Will Gingrich tell the campaign official who gave the incorrect Trump endorsement report "You're fired!"?

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