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And Then There Were Four (and Hucakabe and Paul and Gravel)

With the over-delayed departure of John Edwards, and the implosion of Rudy Giuliani, the race for President comes down to four – Clinton, Obama, McCain and Romney. Between them the race is now an endurance campaign to see who has the resources and stamina to see it to the wire.

It increasingly looks like McCain will come out of 2/5 with a near lock on the nomination and will round out the process shortly thereafter. Romney, no doubt, will probably drop from the race on 2/6 or 2/7.

What’s unclear is the state of the Democratic race. Tim Russert and Chuck Todd were on Today this morning discussing the state of play as we look at the apportionment of delegates, the makeup of the superdelegates and the likelihood that their race may continue into the spring. The best part was Tim Russert’s comment about Rudy:

From a national frontrunner to one delegate $50 million dollars later, it will be studied by political scientists for years. It was a disaster.

That may actually turn out to be a bigger flop than Howard Dean’s $50 million debacle in 2003-2004 because on a cost per vote basis, Rudy fares far worse at this point. Dean also had the scream, so you can point to a total meltdown of his campaign. Rudy just had a terrible strategy. Note to future candidates, skip one early primary? Maybe. Skip five? Not so much.

Now, other than the eventual Democratic nominee, the one open question is when Mike Gravel, Ron Paul, and Mike Huckabee will come to the conclusion that they have run their course and drop out as well. The longer Huckabee clings to the idea that he can win, the more petty he looks. He’ll undoubtedly make some snide comments about Romney stealing his votes. To be fair to him though, for a week or two before Iowa it looked like Huck might be the guy. That has to hurt.

The next big question is who will become the Pat Buchanan of 2008 and deliver a spastic, knee-jerk extremist speech at the convention that harms their parties chances for winning three months later? Will either party deny the also rans a place at the podium?

Honestly, my money is split now between Huckabee and Paul. Either Huckabee stands up and makes an impassioned case that homosexuals are the equivalent of rapists, molesters and monkey-humpers; or Paul goes off on a 20 minute tirade against the World Bank and advocates for the legalization of black tar heroine. Either way, it will be interesting to watch.

Written by Michael Turk