Sunday, January 27, 2008

January 27, 2008

     Onward!   For the Republicans it's on to Florida this Tuesday.  Former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani has been campaigning there, ignoring the earlier states.  But his poll numbers have been dropping and Florida may end up like South Carolina--a battle between John McCain and Mitt Romney.  But it'll be a different kind of fight.
     The states McCain has so far won, like South Carolina, are states with open primaries--primaries, in other words, in which independents can vote, and they've voted for him..  Florida's primary is closed--only registered Republicans can play.  Will McCain do as well with that electorate?  We'll find out.  If he wins, he'll head into Super Tuesday, February 5th, on a real roll.  If not, it'll be wide open, with McCain and Romney battling it out, unless Giuliani wins, which seems unlikely.
     The Democrats head straight into Super Tuesday and the game, of course, has changed.  In Iowa and New Hampshire you can--in fact you have to--do retail politicking--twenty people in a coffee shop or a living room.  That won't work in big states with many markets--California, New York, Illinois and so on.  Campaigning in those states is mostly by TV spots and depends more on how much money you have than on how many stops your plane or bus can make in a day.  Free media--news coverage--matters too.
     The Clintons know this, of course, so it was no surprise to find Bill Clinton attacking the press for unfairness toward his wife in the days before the South Carolina vote.  What may have been a surprise, though not to those who know the couple, was his emergence this past week as a full-fledged co-candidate. He took over the last few days in South Carolina;  she moved on to other states.
     And that raises a question for voters:  how do they feel about a co-presidency?  If he's a co-candidate, wouldn't he be a co-president, too?  As columnist Frank Rich noted in the New York Times, "Any Democrat who seriously thinks that Bill will fade away if Hillary wins the a Democrat who, as the man has said, believes in fairy tales."
     And of course there'll be more and more press scrutiny of the former president and what he's been doing since he left office, scrutiny which might help or hurt the Clintons depending on what it turns up.
     Anyway, stay tuned.  Boy, is it ever not over.      

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