There's a distinct element of "Steal The Bacon" being played in the Republican presidential race:
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - After months of campaigning, millions of dollars spent and hundreds of speeches, Republican presidential candidates are locked in a tight bunch with none emerging as the clear-cut leader.True, Rudy Giuliani has maintained a fairly comfortable lead nationwide, but his campaign may run out of gas long before he hits the more comfortable states like Florida, New York and California.
Meanwhile, Mitt Romney has built a pretty impressive organizations in early states like Iowa and New Hampshire (altho you'd think the latter would be a slam dunk for a former governor of a neighboring state), while both Fred Thompson and John McCain are hanging their hopes in South Carolina. McCain will also challenge in New Hampshire.
For one of them, it will be a good ol' Suth'n lynching.
It's the analysis within the ranks of the party pundits that gets to be laughable:
Party strategists and nonpartisan political experts say the race for the Republican nomination for the November 2008 election is muddled chiefly because unlike many previous election cycles, there is no sitting vice president or obvious party leader seeking the White House that the party can rally around.Um. No. It's not muddled because there's no "clear cut" candidate. Rudy Giuliani is clearly the annointed White House candidate, even if the president is, by traditional, disallowed to intervene in the nominating process.
How do we know this? Bush's administration is jam-packed with former Giuliani cohorts, including Ben Bernanke, Michael Chertoff, and most recently, Attorney General appointee, Michael Mukasey.
Bush's feelings about New York City and the people living here are pretty apparent, so there must be some quid pro quo going on. It wouldn't surprise me if Karl Rove started appearing, wearing "Rudy 2008" paraphrenalia.
So then why is the field so muddled and the picture so...frothy?
Two words: sacrificial lamb.
The GOP has crunched numbers, run projections, taken derivatives and consulted oracles and they see what the rest of the country sees.
There is no credible Republican candidate for president who stands a ghost of a chance of defeating any combination of Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, or John Edwards.
Those three could probably run OJ Simpson as Veep and walk away with the 2008 election, other things being equal (like California not splitting their electoral college).
Right now, the Republican party is shoring up their resources to maintain some sort of hold on congressional seats. They are in deeper trouble there than they are with the loss of the White House, and you'll notice that the more experienced Republicans in Congress are the ones speaking out against the Iraq War.
Usually, the situation is reversed when a President is from your own party: the younger bucks with a name to make will challenge him, while the old guard backs him to the hilt.
The savvy money is on a Democratic sweep of many more seats in both the Senate and the House, which would negate all the Republican legislation of the past sixteen years. In point of fact, the entire legislative process rests on less than ten Senate seats.
In New Hampshire, incumbent John Sununu Jr is trailing his likely opponent, former governor Jeanne Shaheen, by five points. Susan Collins of Maine has proposed a redeployment of 50,000 troops from combat in Iraq to training Iraqis, in anticipation of her re-election battle (which is shaping up to be a doozy, and Olympia Snowe, the other Senator from Maine, better take notes). Collins does have a veery high approval rating in her state, but stranger things have happened. Norm Coleman is under seige already from Al Franken in Minnesota, who's shown surprising political popularity and strength despite having been bi-coastal for the past 40 years.
In Colorado, Wayne Allard is retiring, and the seat is all but Mark Udall's to take (he's the son of Democratic icon Mo Udall). To boot, the Democratic National Convention will be held in Denver, so Udall's campaign will get an immediate jump-start by being seen with the next President early and often.
John Cornyn of Texas is all but dead in the water, and barring a primary opponent, the Democrats ought to wipe the floor with him.
John Warner of Virginia is retiring, as well, and wildly popular former governor Mark Warner has announced for the seat, making the gain already five Democratic seats if things hold to form.
If the Democrats can capture another five, not likely, but not impossible, especially if Collins' bellwether race tightens up, they will hold a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate and will have likely carried an awful lot of House seats along for the ride.
The Republican national committee will be working overtime to make sure a plausible defense of any remaining seats, like Lamar Alexander in Tennessee, is presented, and is not going to be overly concerned with winning the White House. The strategy since 2004 has clearly been to play defense, rather than work towards positive solutions to problems.
In other words, pray the problems go away.