For Fred Thompson, it is the coveted endorsement of the National Right to Life Committee -- the largest and most mainstream of the national pro-life organizations.
Thompson is a logical choice -- a perfect voting record on the issue while in the Senate, and a major candidate who has a better chance of winning the nomination than Mike Huckabee, the other obvious candidate whom they could have endorsed.
There was no way that Romney would get the endorsement after going from pro-life to pro-choice to pro-life again, depending on political expediency. And while John McCain has a pretty flawless pro-life record himself, he has to be seen as too mortally wounded by McCain-Feingold and his stance on illegal immigration to be able to win the nomination.
Meanwhile Huckabee picked up endorsements from several key Southern Baptist leaders, AFA founder Don Wildmon, and rumors continue to fly that James Dobson may break with his past record of neutrality in primaries and endorse Huckabee (although Dobson has already said that he won't support Fred Thompson.)
How much does any of this, or the endorsements that we mentioned last week, matter? The simple answer is that having the endorsements probably doesn't matter -- but not having any such endorsements was going to hurt Huckabee and Thompson, who otherwise are natural favorites of voters for whom their conservative Christian views are important.
With Huckabee coming on strong in Iowa and Thompson still finding his feet and very much a threat to Romney and Giuliani, the absence of any high-profile endorsements was a bit glaring, and now that this little problem has been fixed for both, they can get on with business.
Ultimately, it appears that the "leaders" of the religious right are, as we have noted before, confused and fragmented and unlikely to have much influence in this nomination process. Given what we have seen from them so far, that's probably not a bad thing. What will be interesting is to see what the exit polling in Iowa, NH, and SC tells us about where the rank-and-file "values voters" are. We suspect that the results will surprise their "leaders."