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THE REPUBLICAN RACE (Reinhard)
The Oregonian ^ | January 31, 2008 | David Reinhard

Posted on 01/31/2008 10:11:49 AM PST by jazusamo

Thursday, January 31, 2008

OK, we're now down to a two-man race for the Republican presidential nomination. It's John McCain and Mitt Romney. Rudy Giuliani and Fred Thompson are gone. Mike Huckabee and Ron Paul are going nowhere. McCain vs. Romney -- the Soiree on Super Tuesday.

The Romney campaign always wanted a two-man race, and now it has one. But does it come too late for the Massachusetts governor? Is Romney a victim of history -- the short history of the 2008 primary season and his own longer history in politics?

The Republican race that Romney wanted was never supposed to happen like this. The "full-spectrum conservative" Romney was going to gather up early-state wins in Iowa, New Hampshire and Michigan and barrel ahead for one-on-one showdowns in South Carolina, Florida and two dozen Super Tuesday states a week later.

That, at least, was the plan. But Huckabee's Evangelical-driven Iowa win, Thompson's quasi-campaign, Giuliani's retreat to Florida -- all conspired to keep Romney from making it a contest between the conservative and the not-so-conservative GOP candidate. The result: McCain has been able to cobble together primary victories without ever having actually won the votes of self-identified Republicans.

That hasn't been a problem for McCain in a multi-candidate race. But it will be a problem for him from now on -- in the GOP primary if Romney can make a one-on-one race of it and in the general election if McCain cannot rev up a demoralized GOP base .

Romney's multi-candidate problem isn't completely over yet. Huckabee is hanging around, auditioning for the vice presidency on a McCain ticket. His presence complicates things for Romney in the Huck-friendly Super Tuesday states of Georgia, Alabama, Arkansas and Missouri. That said, there are still plenty of other states -- and more delegates in non-winner-take-all states -- up for grabs next Tuesday. Yes, there are more than 1,000 delegates at stake on Super Tuesday, but 900 more will be decided in the weeks and months following.

A total of 1,191 are needed to win the nomination. Right now Romney has 59 delegates and McCain 93. In the year of the voter and not the prognosticator, it's a tad early to declare McCain inevitable or even all but inevitable.

The next week will give Republican voters a chance to choose between McCain and Romney. Voters haven't had this kind of narrow choice since Romney won Michigan, and that primary was open to Democrats and independents. If the Florida exit polls are any guide, a two-man Republican race -- two-and-a-half men if you figure in Huckabee -- could work to Romney's advantage. "Conservatives" made up 62 percent of Florida's GOP voters. Romney beat McCain 37 percent to 27 percent among those Republicans and 44 percent to 27 percent among those who call themselves "very conservative." Among the 80 percent who described themselves as "loyal Republicans," Romney edged out McCain 33 to 31 percent. (McCain made up the difference by whipping Romney among "independent" Republicans.)

This isn't buyer's remorse. McCain has yet to make the sale, much less seal the deal.

Where will the conservatives and "loyal Republicans" who like Rudy go now that he's out of the race? Will they heed his Wednesday endorsement of McCain? Where will conservatives and "loyal Republicans" who like Huckabee go now that it's clear his candidacy has wandered into the Pat Robertson wilderness?

Will they throw away their votes on Huckabee? Or will they break to Romney? I'm not so sure. If McCain poses problems for conservatives and "loyal Republicans," Romney, as even his supporters must acknowledge, is an imperfect vessel to point up these problems. Too many flip-flops over the course of his own time in politics. Too much perceived pandering. Too bad, but true.

Also, Romney's not the only player in the new two-man race. McCain can say things to help himself with the GOP base, as he started to do last week in Florida.

So is the GOP presidential race all over but the vote counting? You'd be daft to answer such a question this year. After all, six months ago, the smart money said John McCain was out of the running.


TOPICS: Editorial; Politics/Elections
KEYWORDS: mccain; reinhard; romney

1 posted on 01/31/2008 10:11:49 AM PST by jazusamo
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To: jazusamo

Man will these knuckleheads eat crow when Huckabee ends up with a big chunk of delegates.


2 posted on 01/31/2008 10:13:20 AM PST by Greg F (Romney appointed homosexual activists as judges in Massachusetts.)
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To: jazusamo

I wish Huckabee would huck off before he gives the Republican nomination to McAmnesty.


3 posted on 01/31/2008 10:13:49 AM PST by mrsmel
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To: mrsmel

Me too. :)


4 posted on 01/31/2008 10:16:18 AM PST by jazusamo (DefendOurMarines.org | DefendOurTroops.org)
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To: mrsmel

Huckabee wants the VP slot
he will hand this thing to McCain


5 posted on 01/31/2008 10:16:19 AM PST by DM1
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To: jazusamo

McCain, Rudy, Arnold....they are all Liberals in Republican clothes. McCain will follow orders from someone else. I’d rather have him than Billary but the preference is Romney.


6 posted on 01/31/2008 10:16:29 AM PST by RC2
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To: Greg F

This article is written as if Mitt is a certified conservative.


7 posted on 01/31/2008 10:21:38 AM PST by demshateGod (the GOP is dead to me)
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To: demshateGod

People are desperate to believe . . .


8 posted on 01/31/2008 10:22:39 AM PST by Greg F (Romney appointed homosexual activists as judges in Massachusetts.)
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To: Greg F

Don’t see that happening.


9 posted on 01/31/2008 10:22:44 AM PST by NavVet ( If you don't defend Conservatism in the Primaries, you won't have it to defend in November)
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To: jazusamo

OK, after reading this I feel better...I’m sending Romney some more money...the media is pulling a fast one on us...once McCain wins the nomination they will destroy him by all of a sudden “discovering” his cheating on spouses, his involvement in Keating 5, and how damn old he is. McCain=Hillary


10 posted on 01/31/2008 10:25:47 AM PST by rman04554
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To: Greg F

I don’t “believe” in any human as my savior, I’m not that naive. I consider Romney the least of the evils we have on offer.


11 posted on 01/31/2008 10:26:25 AM PST by mrsmel
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To: demshateGod
Romney, as even his supporters must acknowledge, is an imperfect vessel to point up these problems. Too many flip-flops over the course of his own time in politics. Too much perceived pandering. Too bad, but true.
12 posted on 01/31/2008 10:27:13 AM PST by jazusamo (DefendOurMarines.org | DefendOurTroops.org)
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To: DM1
Let's hope not. I am emailing things about Huckafraud and McAmnesty to family and friends as fast as my little fingers can type. I have lots of family, who have lots of family. It's not much, but every little bit may help.
13 posted on 01/31/2008 10:28:29 AM PST by mrsmel
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To: rman04554

Agreed, if he gets the nomination the enemedia will have a field day tearing him up.


14 posted on 01/31/2008 10:29:59 AM PST by jazusamo (DefendOurMarines.org | DefendOurTroops.org)
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To: jazusamo
This is a fair assessment. One big uncertainly about McCain not mentioned is his tendency to fly off the handle. If he stays true to form, he will say and do some crazy things as the days move forward.
15 posted on 01/31/2008 10:31:04 AM PST by smoothsailing
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To: smoothsailing
If he stays true to form, he will say and do some crazy things as the days move forward.

I too am sure he will, it's his nature.

16 posted on 01/31/2008 10:34:04 AM PST by jazusamo (DefendOurMarines.org | DefendOurTroops.org)
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To: smoothsailing

And Hillary will clean his clock in the campaign when he loses it, which he will. She won’t even have to do anything, say anything, just stand back and let him hang himself. The MSM knows this too. If he wins the nomination, this election will only be notable for the entertainment value.


17 posted on 01/31/2008 10:45:26 AM PST by mrsmel
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To: mrsmel
Agreed. The MSM will turn on McCain the minute he's nominated, Hillary can just stand there and smile.
18 posted on 01/31/2008 10:50:15 AM PST by smoothsailing
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To: DM1
Really hadn’t thought about that but I see that Huck is only 51 saying McPain in my Arse goes two terms Huck is still only 59 and the RNC will put him forward as the presidential nominee.
19 posted on 01/31/2008 12:19:27 PM PST by kublia khan (Absolute war brings total victory)
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To: rman04554
"...Mike Huckabee and Ron Paul are going nowhere..."

I heard my first "Vote for Ron Paul" advertisement today in Florida on the radio. Wasn't the Florida Primary two days ago?

BTW: McCain=Hillary=Bob Dole

20 posted on 01/31/2008 3:48:24 PM PST by Does so (...against all enemies, DOMESTIC and foreign...)
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To: kublia khan
Really hadn’t thought about that but I see that Huck is only 51 saying McPain in my Arse goes two terms Huck is still only 59 and the RNC will put him forward as the presidential nominee.
. . . except that McCain not only will not run for reelection, he will not be elected in the first place. Big Journalism will hold its fire until the hook is set and the Republicans are well and truly committed to McCain. Then - I shouldn't wonder if it happens on the very day of his acceptance speech - suddenly McCain will be They won't have any need for phony "Killian memos" to dispose of him. All those polls which said, or might still say, that McCain can beat Hillary are based on the false premise that Big Journalism won't subvert McCain's campain as soon as it suits their purpose to do so. There will be no McCain-Huckabee Administration; there will be no McCain Administration of any kind whatsoever. And that is what Big Journalism likes about John McCain.

21 posted on 01/31/2008 4:24:31 PM PST by conservatism_IS_compassion (The Democratic Party is only a front for the political establishment in America - Big Journalism.)
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To: Does so
McCain=Hillary=Bob Dole

As Bob Dole might say, "John McCain is no Bob Dole".

I'd take Dole over McCain in a heartbeat.

22 posted on 01/31/2008 4:56:16 PM PST by rogue yam
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To: rogue yam
"...I'd take Dole over McCain in a heartbeat..."

Me too: the inference was to suggest the outcome for the 2008 Presidency.

23 posted on 02/01/2008 2:05:27 AM PST by Does so (...against all enemies, DOMESTIC and foreign...)
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