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Ark. land commissioner denies he endorsed Perry

Arkansas Land Commissioner John Thurston said Tuesday that he hasn't backed anyone in the Republican presidential contest, despite Texas Gov. Rick Perry's campaign touting him as a supporter last week.

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Arkansas Land Commissioner John Thurston said Tuesday that he hasn't backed anyone in the Republican presidential contest, despite Texas Gov. Rick Perry's campaign touting him as a supporter last week.

Thurston said Perry's campaign was incorrect when it announced that he was among more than two dozen Republican officials who had endorsed Perry, and Perry's campaign called the endorsement a "clerical error."

"There was some talk earlier," Thurston told The Associated Press. "They were seeking an endorsement, and I decided to stay neutral at least at this point."

Thurston said he believed there was a misunderstanding. Thurston said he doesn't have anything against Perry but also mentioned Herman Cain as a presidential candidate he likes. Thurston said he likely won't endorse anyone until the party chooses its nominee.

Thurston said he had not spoken with anyone from the campaign but had talked with state Rep. David Sanders, a Perry supporter, about a possible endorsement. Sanders, R-Little Rock, said he had talked with Thurston but hadn't told Perry's campaign that Thurston was supporting the Texas governor. He has since told the campaign Thurston did not want to be listed as a supporter.

Thurston said he had thought the campaign had removed his name as a supporter. A release on Tuesday still mentioned Thurston as a supporter, but his name was removed late that afternoon.

"This was a clerical error," said Katherine Cesinger, state press director for Perry's campaign. "Once we realized the error, we reached out to the commissioner and have corrected it."

Perry's campaign announced the endorsements a day after Lt. Gov. Mark Darr and U.S. Rep. Tim Griffin said they were supporting former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney's campaign. Griffin is chairing Romney's Arkansas campaign.

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee's announcement earlier this year that he wouldn't run opened up many Republican leaders in the state to look at other presidential hopefuls, but several remain uncommitted.

Republican U.S. Reps. Rick Crawford and Steve Womack have said they don't plan on making an endorsement yet, and Republican U.S. Sen. John Boozman doesn't plan to endorse until after the party chooses its nominee.

 

©2011 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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