like flies

by lestro

Less than 24 hours after the Florida primary and already two of this election season’s heavyweights are throwing in the towel.

On the Democratic side, the New York Times (and other media outlets) are reporting that John Edwards has decided to end his quest for the nomination.

It was only a matter of time, really. After campaigning in Iowa for about six years, Edwards finished second and vowed to fight on, but was counting on the momentum from an Iowa victory to launch him past Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. In New Hampshire, he pulled only 17 percent, then dropped to 4 percent in Nevada (where even the major unions – groups he courted for years and a natural constituency for his fiery, populist message – endorsed other candidates) and only pulled in 18 percent in South Carolina, the state where he was born and neighbor to the state he represented in the Senate.

Last night in Florida, a state whose delegates have been stripped by the Democratic National Convention, Edwards again only garnered 14 percent of the vote and despite having racked up 26 delegates (compared to Obama’s 63 and Clinton’s 48), it looks like Edwards has decided not to fight on, meaning the top two can now go on a little more secure that Edwards will not play kingmaker.

(For the record, Clinton won with a big majority, which is not surprising since none of the candidates campaigned in the Sunshine State (except Clinton, who held a rally there the other night) and she has the best name recognition. Of course, in pure Clinton fashion, Hillary now wants those delegates to count despite having said before that they should not…)

It is also unknown who or even if Edwards will endorse one of the other folks, though he has asked them to continue talking about poverty, an issue he has championed this election. Here’s hoping whomever gets the nomination gives Edwards consideration for either a Veep nod or (my preference) Attorney General.

Can you imagine a raging anti-corporate populist attorney general? After eight years of liars and presidential power apologists, it would be nice to have someone in the Justice Department that cares about the little guy for a change…

Though I suppose the larger question is for whom do the white guys vote now, since before they went to Edwards in droves.

Meanwhile, on the Republican side, roles have been reversed with the one-time presumed front-runner set to drop out and endorse the candidate whose campaign was all but dead this past summer.

It really has been an amazing turn-around for John McCain, but more than anything, the New York Mets-like collapse of Rudy Giuliani will forever be held up as “How Not to Run a Presidential Campaign.”

The Giuliani campaign strategy was one built on the idea that a guy from New York City who is twice-divorced and pro-choice was not going to win early states like Iowa or South Carolina. Why he thought he couldn’t compete in New Hampshire or Michigan I don’t know, but he opted not to campaign there either, betting it all on Florida and then the big Feb. 5, 21-state super primary.

It wasn’t a bad strategy on paper as the big delegate numbers come on Feb. 5 with California and New York voting that day, two states where Giuliani’s moderate republicanism should have done quite well.

Unfortunately, by opting out of the first few primaries, the Giuliani campaign found themselves forgotten by the media as every political reporter in the country was tuned into the first couple of contests, giving even the losers a bunch of free ink.

And in presidential campaigns, just like with children, even negative attention is still attention, though admittedly, some members of the media have finally started really looking into Giuliani’s record and temper and, well, the guy is a creep.

By the time Florida rolled around, the story was John McCain and his remarkable comeback. The only questions were whether he could carry a closed primary, where only party members vote, or if the majority of his support came from independents (despite being one of President Bush’s most ardent supporters and apologists).

But last night proved that McCain can win among republicans and given his record among independents and the general distrust of Mitt Romney and his too-perfect hair and pol-tested positions, it looks like John McCain will finally get his shot at the oval office.

Since one can only assume that these super-early primaries are going to be a permanent fixture of our landscape – in fact, I think the 2012 Iowa Caucus takes place in a couple of months – it will be interesting to see what the campaigns have learned for the next time around…

One Response to like flies

  1. humboldtsquid says:

    Isnt’t it sad that, now at the end of Jan, everything has almost shaken out? The season is about over. Super Tuesday will happen and the front runners might change again, however, they will be the same four we have today. What a bore! I was expecting so much more from this campaign cycle.

    The only thing what would spice it up now is if Obama asks Colin Powell to be his VP and/or Hillary asks Condi to be hers! Now that would be some good popcorn watching VP debates. We all know the Repubs are going to ask another one of their kind, white male with deep pockets, deep connections and religon on their sleeves, to run as VP. Welcome to the future, just like past….

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