A frenetic couple of days in Republican politics leveled the GOP presidential playing field to three candidates, according to a USA Today analysis
That assessment follows the GOP presidential debate Thursday; the Iowa Straw Poll that Rep. Michele Bachmann won Saturday, which former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty took as his cue to pull out of the race; and Texas. Gov. Rick Perry’s formal announcement Saturday in South Carolina that he wants to move from the governor's mansion to the White House.
The action whittled the contestants to Bachmann, Perry, and the oft-mentioned front-runner Mitt Romney, USA Today writer David Jackson opined.
He probably would get an argument from Rep. Ron Paul, the Texas congressman who finished a scant 1 percent behind Bachmann’s 28.6 percent win in the Ames, Iowa, poll Saturday, and others in the crowded field.
“At some point, both Bachmann and Perry figure to go after Romney,” writes Jackson.
Supporting his argument is Stuart Rothenberg, publisher of a nonpartisan political report, who told Jackson: "We've got a three-person race now. Romney, Perry and Bachmann."
The other candidates will get their chances to prove them both wrong, however, in upcoming debates. The next one on the agenda is scheduled for Sept. 7 at the Ronald Reagan library in Simi Valley, Calif.
The USA Today analysis also cites the “wild card,” former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, the Republican vice-presidential candidate in 2008 who keeps everyone guessing about whether she will run for president in 2012.
Romney, Perry, and Bachmann can be expected to seek Pawlenty’s endorsement, USA Today reported.
Rothenberg told USA Today that he sees the GOP story line proceeding in two acts:
In Act One, Perry and Bachmann will fight to become "the social conservative, tea party alternative" to Romney.
"Then Act Two will follow," Rothenberg told the national newspaper.
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