Richelieu: Three-Way Brawl
12:33 PM, Dec 27, 2007 • By RICHELIEU
One week to go and while almost anything can still happen, the GOP race seems to have settled into a 3-way battle. Romney vs. McCain vs. Huckabee.
Some thoughts: Rudy is fading fast. He's channeling his GOP mayoral predecessor John Lindsey's ghost from the '72 Democratic primary and pinning his hopes on a late miracle showing in Florida. Ask President Lindsey how that strategy works out. Rudy's plan was flawed from the start. The primary process isn't static and it won't wait. You can't bank support in later states if you lose the early ones.
Meanwhile one of my Iowa seminarians tells me Fred Thompson is scaling back his TV in Iowa. This is a likely sign of money trouble in Fred- land, which wouldn't surprise me since the buzz on Fred has been bad for a while and bad buzz kills finance. The stakes are high for Thompson. He needs third place in Iowa to survive. He's on a bus tour there now making the effort in Iowa he needs to make, but he'll need all that to hang on to third place. Private polling shows McCain narrowly edging him out for third at present.
Romney is rising in Iowa and now may indeed beat Huckabee who may have reached his half-life. But that is far from certain. Any Romney loss in Iowa -- even a narrow one -- will provide the Romney disliking media a chance to work him over as the big loser in Iowa. In N.H. the old McCain magic appears to be back, and the Rudy/Thompson decline means that McCain might be able to pull of a third place showing in Iowa. That would be big and give McCain some extra momentum into New Hampshire.
So the 5-way race of a month ago has morphed into a three-way brawl, with a big Romney vs. McCain showdown in N.H. looking like the pivotal battle for the nomination.