OK. The summer is over. Labor Day has come and gone — and the 2008 campaigns are already in hyper-drive. Let’s analyze the present state of affairs in both parties:
This week, Fred Thompson finally announces online and on Jay Leno Wednesday night and Thursday, with trips to Iowa, New Hampshire, and Florida included.
This will be a gigantic yawn as Fred is a boring speaker with no internal fire and no passion. He is no Reagan — and is not the savior the GOP desperately searches for. He isn’t even the unifying conservative that the right hopes him to be. He has a political tin ear; his instincts should have made him join the race in June when he was hot-hot-hot. By waiting, and having numerous stories about his wife running the campaign and canning numerous staffers, he has dissipated the excitement many felt about a Thompson candidacy three months ago.
The already-announced candidates will be debating up in New Hampshire on Wednesday night while Fred joins the race, too late.
The Republican field hasn’t changed much: Romney is ahead in Iowa and New Hampshire and is thus the front-runner to win the nomination despite anemic national poll numbers. (Those polls, by the way, are useless indicators of nothing; the key polls are state-by-state polls, and in the key first two states Romney is sitting pretty.)
Rudy Giuliani, by blowing off Iowa, has severely damaged his chances of winning the nomination as he faces two quick Romney victories. His Florida-is-my-make-or-break-state strategy is flawed; Iowa and New Hampshire will give Romney the Big Mo. Florida won’t counteract that for Rudy.
McCain is done. Nothing more to say about this miserable figure who has done so much to hurt and demean others. Good riddance to McCain! I hope each election night is agonizingly difficult for him.
Ron Paul? He had some mojo going until he blew it at the Iowa straw poll, and this week he couldn’t even beat Duncan Hunter in the Texas straw poll — his home state! He’s all done. A good man with some good ideas, but he just isn’t a great candidate.
Mike Huckabee is the odds-on favorite to be anyone’s vice presidential choice because he is a Southern, social conservative. He could still score some points for president, too, but where is he going to win even one primary?
So, as of the beginning of September, the GOP nomination is Romney’s to lose.
Interesting note: He has the highest negatives of any candidate in either party, followed by Hillary.
What if next year the race is between these two?
Can you just see the total disgust of the voters at having to choose between the two least-liked candidates?
For John Edwards, and Hillary, too in an odd way, everything rides on Iowa — everything.
Because Edwards sees the race this way: Hillary is the inevitable nominee . . . she can’t lose . . . she may be the next president. She is the greatest thing ever! (So say her supporters and many in the so-called mainstream media.)
Yes, she is way, way ahead in those national polls.
OK, so what happens if little ole John Edwards beats her in Iowa?
Doesn’t he become "the man?" The giant killer? And doesn’t his victory shatter her inevitability?
That is his thinking. And he may very well be right. Plus, he is strong in Iowa and has been for years.
Plus, as we have seen in 2003/2004, Iowa Democratic caucus-goers actually calculate with their head as much as they vote with their hearts.
The liked Howard Dean in 2004 but calculated that he couldn’t/wouldn’t win a general election.
John Edwards, and his wife, are spreading the same message about Hillary all over Iowa: She is the one Democrat the Republicans want to run against! And, they say, look at the last two Democrats elected to the White House: Carter and Clinton, both Southern, white moderates — just like John Edwards (so they say).
Hillary has been fighting back by doing what she always does: trotting out her husband, an enormously popular figure in Democratic circles. (A supposedly committed feminist, Hillary interestingly always hides behind and uses her man to help her.)
Barack Obama is also a factor in Iowa and New Hampshire. But it is Edwards who is gambling on a win in Iowa.
Would this be a fatal knock-out blow to Hillary?
Well, it would show her to be a lot more vulnerable than many want to accept and would make many Democrats re-assess her electability in a general election.
Plus it would hurt her in New Hampshire, just eight days later.
That big momentum coming out of Iowa soars right up to the Granite State and makes these first two states almost the whole enchilada — especially now with all the other states just two weeks later on Tsunami Tuesday. And independents can vote in New Hampshire’s primaries, and who knows what they may do.
Conclusion: Romney is actually in better shape than many realize for the nomination, and Hillary teeters on big trouble — should she lose Iowa.
So don’t buy any of this “the race is over” nonsense.
It hasn’t even begun.
As for the 2008 general election, the GOP starts off with huge problems, the biggest of which is in the Oval Office and is determined to keep us in Iraq through the end of his term.
But that is for another column.
First, we have to navigate the primaries.
And then there is the strong possibility of an independent third candidate to tap into the widespread despair and anger out there and to take on both parties.
More on that soon.
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