Tom Tancredo pulled his hat from the Republican race for president and announced his endorsement of Mitt Romney in Des Moines today. The Colorado congressman's campaign never gained any traction in the polls.
"It was apparent to me I cannot win this race" Tancredo admitted. Yet, the real impact of his run is in the prominence immigration policy has taken in the Republican race.
The congressman launched and sustained his campaign on his hard stance against illegal immigration. Debate after debate -- often the only glimpses journalists and voters have had of the candidate -- Tancredo reiterated the importance of securing U.S. borders and retaining a strict stance against illegal immigration and amnesty.
His outspoken advocacy is evident in provocative television ads released by his campaign which warn viewers that permeable borders could lead to terrorist attacks and increased crime. "Consequences" featured a series of crime scene photographs as a dramatic narrator says, "Mothers killed, children executed. The tactics of vicious Central American gangs, now on US soil. Pushing drugs, raping kids, destroying lives." The candidate left little unsaid on his stance.
Now, two weeks before the Iowa caucuses these policies have become essential Republican rhetoric -- his pet cause has become a major issue in the race.
On his decision to endorse Mitt Romney Tancredo said "at this point in time, he is the best hope for our cause. And it is the cause, that's what motivates me. It's not Tom Tancredo, it's all the things we worked so hard for".
He also admits that electability played a major role in his decision: "I mean somebody is going to win this race. Somebody is going to be President of the United States, it is not going to be me".
He cited Huckabee and McCain as two candidates who would not be loyal advocates for his cause: "there are folks who are in this race that even though they have rhetorically said the right things, we have rhetorically forced them into that, I am not sure they are there beyond that".
Romney, he said, at least has a record of standing up against illegal immigration. Without dispelling too many details, Tancredo said he had private conversations with other candidates but his conversation for a "good hour or more" this morning with Romney stood out.
Tancredo is unsure what role he will play as a Romney supporter but leaves the horserace seemingly satisfied with his contribution – bringing immigration to the forefront of the Republican race for president.