The Republican primaries in Michigan and South Carolina are in the books, as is the Nevada Caucases. While Michigan went with in expectations, and Nevada was a fore gone conclusion, South Carolina did give a surpise or two. Now it seems that South Carolina has proved to be the death knell of a candidate.
Fred Thompson, after his 3rd place finish in South Carolina, has decided to drop out of the race. I truly believed that Fred had a shot at winning in the Palmetto State, but he failed to capitalize on his credentials and Southern residency. He never managed to materialize the sort of energy he needed, and was available to him. So Fred has bowed to the inevitable IMO, and has dropped out of the race to attend to a sick family member. He’s issued no endorsement as yet, with some saying won’t endorse anyone. I kind of doubt that, so expect Fred to make an endorsement some time just before February 5th. Fred can still play king maker in this nomination cycle if he times it right.
Instead, John McCain, in a reversal from 2000, won the State over Mike Huckabee. Mac, building off his win in New Hampshire, along with the lack of a campaign by Rudy Guiliani, and Huckabee still appearing to be a flash in the pan, carried the State that brought him such pain in 2000. Credit should be given to Lindsey Graham and the SC campaign staff for this one.
A word on Mike Huckabee here. He’s played his campaign fairly well so far. But he might need to rethink his choice of “attack dogs,” and watch his comments a bit more closely. You see, he has two “endorsements” from celebrity types who have been used as fronts for some of Huck’s campaign bits. First off is Chuck Norris. Now I like Chuck, really I do. But his criticism of McCain and his age seems to be a bit out of place and disingenuous IMO, more so give Chuck’s own age. Then there’s Ric Flair. Yes, THAT Ric Flair of pro-wrestling fame. He was up on stage with Huck at a rallly in SC the night before the primary. This is where Huck needs better handlers. Huck was up on stage and said “If you don’t vote for me, Ric Flair will put you down.” Now, I know Huck was not serious about this, but it’s the sort of think people will remember, and will not look kindly upon. It was a poor choice of words, even though said in jest. But it gets worse when you add in Huck’s comments about helping to keep supporters of other candidates at home instead of going to the polls. It’s just bad form, bad for a primary, and if said in a general election, an almost certain defeat.
Meanwhile, a ho-hum caucus night in Nevada handed Mitt Romney an uncontested win, much like Wyoming. Yes, Wyoming had its caususes a while ago. You missed it? So did all the candidates. This one was never in doubt, as only Romney campaigned in Nevada, and had abandoned South Carolina after his ad blitz failed to produce any results. So he won in a runaway, helped out by his fellow Mormons.
But Michigan was a genuine win for Romney, even if he was expected to win. I don’t think that Romney carrying Michigan was a sure thing by any stretch. McCain ran a solid campaign, flawed by a misdelivered message on jobs, which I have no doubts cost him support. But Romney was the “favored son” in Michigan, having grown up there, and with lots of connections across the state. Even though he won, it was not by a big enough margin for him to feel secure in his candidacy.
Yes, yes, yes. Romney leads in delegates, but he lack luster showing in South Carolina, and his poor polling numbers in several key states for the February 5th primaries, is not boding well for him. Don’t look for Romney to place higher than 3rd in California, New York, or Florida (on the 29th).
Now in the “Have You Seen This Candidate” category, Rudy Guiliani. Rudy has shot himself in the foot with his campaign. Or should I say lack of a campaign. This whole “ignore everything before Florida” strategy is backfiring badly. So badly in fact, that he now trails not only in Florida and California, but in New York as well. In every instance where polling data is available, he trails the leader by double digits (who happens to be John McCain at the moment). Even the New York GOP is backing off of Rudy, after all the hoopla over having the big wigs file his ballot papers. No, Rudy is all but dead in the water, and he has no one to blame but himself.
Oh yeah, Duncan Hunter quit the race too. Snore.
Then there’s the lunatic fringe that is Ron Paul. Yes, he’s still kicking around, garnering just enough support to keep his campaign on life support. What amazes me is the sheer willful blindness to his past that otherwise intelligent people have concerning him. They will pointedly ignore his antisemtic remarks and articles, he associations with Holocost deniers and white supremacists, his all talk no action about earmarks and balanced budgets, and continue to laud him as some sort of second coming of Jesus Christ. It boggles the mind it does.
Over on the other side, the “blue on blue” violence continues. I am thoroughly entertained by the bickering between Obama and Hillary. Plus I get to watch the comedy show that is John Edwards try and play “peace maker,” and fail miserably. The last debate showed how testy the race between Obama and Clinton is getting.
This may be an undoing for the Democrats, even if they nominate the person they should in Obama. This fratricidal infighting may polarize the party enough that when in comes to November, many Democrats may stay home rather than vote for the candidate who beat out “their guy/gal.” February 5th should be very interesting on the Democratic side, more so if South Carolina is close.