John Warner will (thankfully) not seek reelection to the Senate. This opens the door for what could be an epic Mark Warner vs. George Allen showdown. Will the macaca come out of hibernation or is he buried for good? Sound off in comments below.

UPDATE: Rep. Tom Davis is going to jump in the race. It should be interesting to see how this moderate fairs in the battle for nomination. He’s a good fit for northern VA, but isn’t nearly conservative enough for most of Virginia’s GOPers.

WASHINGTON (CNN) — Rep. Tom Davis appears to be the first person to throw his hat into the ring in the battle to succeed retiring Sen. John Warner of Virginia. A congressional source close to Davis told CNN Radio’s Lisa Goddard that, “Tom’s running. He didn’t want to say more today because it’s the senator’s day.”

The source reached out to CNN just one hour after Warner announced that he won’t run for re-election in 2008. Davis, a moderate Republican from Northern Virginia, has long eyed succeeding Warner. But Davis could most likely face serious competition from a more conservative candidate. One possibility is former Gov. Jim Gilmore, who gave up his bid for the White House last month.

Has Fred Thompson finally decided to fish? We might find out today, according to the Politico.

Fred Thompson’s campaign-in-waiting will hold a 4 p.m. conference call today with supporters to brief them on plans for the former Tennessee senator’s presidential announcement next week, according to an e-mail obtained by Politico.com. Randy Enwright, Thompson’s political director, said in the message that they will “discuss the next steps as we move forward as an organization.” A Thompson aide confirms that they’ll share the news about the long-awaited formal launch.

Read the rest.

Update:

Still no official confirmation from the campaign, but Thompson sources now confirm that he will announce his candidacy next Thursday, Sept. 6. The launch will include a tour of Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Florida. As expected, Thompson will not appear at the GOP debate in New Hampshire on Wednesday, Sept. 5.

While Mitt Romney won the Ames Straw Poll by a wide margin, he also won the competition for the most money spent per vote by an even wider margin.

Despite these two “wins” for Romney, it appears that the true winner of Ames may former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee.

After his surprising second place finish in the poll, coming ahead of Sam Brownback, who outspent him at the poll at a nearly 3-to-1 clip and Tommy Thompson, who pinned his staying in the race on a strong finish, Huckabee has started surging in the polls.

The American Research Group released several state polls today and the post-Ames publicity seems to have paid off for Huck:

Mike Huckabee is at 17% among Republicans in Iowa (up from 1% in July), 12% among Republicans in New Hampshire (up from 1% in July), and 11% among Republicans in South Carolina (up from 3% in July).

What remains to be seen is if this surge in the polls will equate to a surge in donations, because frankly, Huckabee’s financial situation has been abysmal. If Huck can squeeze a few dollars out of those fiscal conservatives he is courting, maybe, just maybe he can really make some noise.

Maybe not, but one of Hillary’s “hillraisers”, who has netted over $1 million for her campaign, may not see things as so black and white. As Barry reported, in 1991, Norman Hsu pleaded no contest after raising $1 million for a phony business, and, after to failing to appear in court, he became a fugitive and was sentenced to 3-year prison term. Naturally, in Clinton fashion, Hsu’s lawyer claims his client “doesn’t remember making a deal”, which legally, as his lawyer should know, doesn’t excuse the unserved jail time.

As moral and classy as Hillary is, she would certainly demand all sorts of apologies and changes in donation policy should a similar situation befall a rival, but as it’s her, a Clinton adviser announced that “there has been no question about [Hsu’s] integrity” and, speaking of Clinton integrity, “we have absolutely no reason to call his contributions into question or return them”. Except the donor is a wanted fugitive.

Senator McCain turns 71 today. That’s newsworthy, of course, because if elected president Mac would be the oldest in history, beating Reagan by 3 years. But more interesting is this snippet from the Arizona Daily Star story:

As McCain hits 71 today, he faces another struggle: In polling, voters are more uneasy electing someone 72 years old — as he will be in on election day in November 2008 — than they are electing a woman, a Mormon, someone who is black or a smoker. McCain would be the oldest person elected president.

Assuming that’s true, why isn’t this getting more attention in the national press? Polling suggest that voters are more comfortable with a Mormon (Romney) than someone who’s 72 on election day? Given the tremendous heat Romney has taken over his religion, that’s quite a statistic.

So what would you give McCain for his birthday? Comment below.

As Jason pointed out last week, Joe Biden has hit the airwaves in Iowa with some impressive ads, looking almost like a legitimate candidate.

And now Joe, who’s campaign has gotten little traction, is trying to find ways to stay on the air in Iowa and find a way to catch the faltering John Edwards and the stagnant Bill Richardson and become the alternative to the big two.

In a spiffy email to supporters, Biden campaign manager Luis Navarro wants you to “Adopt an Ad”, much as you would adopt a kitten or puppy from the pound.

They even given us a price structure:

It’s not everyday that you can make a difference in a presidential election but we’re asking you to do just that today. Here’s what your contribution today will purchase:

* $9 pays for one ad on CNN in Council Bluffs
* $37 pays for one ad on MSNBC in Rock Island
* $100 pays for one ad on “Meet the Press” in Sioux City
* $150 pays for one ad on “Good Morning America” in Davenport
* $300 pays for one ad on “The Late Show with David Letterman” in Des Moines
* $600 pays for one ad during the evening news in Cedar Rapids

An interesting approach to fundraising, but is it me or does it remind you of the very depressing TV ads you’d see on Sunday mornings with Sally Struthers crying and telling you for only 58 cents a day, you can feed a starving family in some third world nation?

I wonder if Sally is available as a spokesperson for the Biden campaign?

As in “Up in Smoke”. But in Clinton’s case, it’s no more smoke.

Hillary, while lavishing praise on the New York City smoking ban, has indicated that she would support a national ban of smoking in public places, similar to the one in New York and other localities. When asked if she would be in favor of such a ban:

“Well, personally, I think so. And that’s what a lot of local communities and states are starting to do.”

No word if this weakens her standing with the lobbyists that have thrown their support behind her campaign.

Bad things man, bad things!

Yawn. Fred Thompson still hasn’t declared he’s running for president, but he did suggest, “I think it’s pretty clear the direction I’m headed in.” Yes, and that direction is down. There will be no splash of excitement when he finally makes it official. All that hype might have been useful in June, when his campaign was new, and people didn’t know enough about him to realize no one would support him. Fred’s big surprise for the country will now allegedly have to wait until next month, which, at last check, is not at all close to Independence Day.

Thompson’s got no sizzle left, he hasn’t raised as much as he thought he would, and conservative Republicans have already realized he’s not Ronald Reagan. In short, the great Fred hype is going nowhere faster than anyone this side of John McCain. So by the time Thompson finally does announce that he is running, perhaps he should simply conclude his monumental declaration by officially withdrawing from the race.

Alberto Gonzales has resigned. Despite the fact that politicians on all sides were calling for his ouster, expect Hillary, Obama, and Edwards to fire off press releases at lightening speed taking credit for his scalp. Predict their best quotes below!

She's trying to get her learn on but keeps missing the point.When it comes to keeping them safe from terrorists’ attacks, Americans don’t look to the party of surrender. They look to the GOP, the party supported by the vast majority of military men and women. Astute Democrats are well aware of this.

Campaigning in Concord, NH, Hillary Clinton said “if certain things happen between now and the election, particularly with respect to terrorism, that will automatically give the Republicans an advantage again…

It’s no surprise that the top Dem contender knows this. Sadly, it’s also no surprise that the top Dem contender views terrorism primarily in electoral terms.

She quickly tries to cover herself by saying Republicans have made the world less safe, conveniently ignoring her husband’s near complete ignoring of the issue (save for the bombing of an aspirin factory and a couple of empty tents with cruise missiles) when he was President.

Here’s what we understand, that they apparently don’t: if ‘certain things happen with respect to terrorism’, American lives may be lost. So, the President should go ahead and focus on keeping us safe from outside attack by fighting Islamic extremists in the Middle East. Most Republican leaders believe in this; many Democrats do not. It’s that simple.

To quote the White Stripes, we’ve “said it once before, but it bears repeating.” Democrats are continuing to use fear to motivate voters. Yes, that’s exactly what they claim Republicans are doing. But if you want to know what someone is up to, take a look at what they are accusing their opponents of doing. And answer this, do lines like these not sound like they are trying to instill fear?

We are less safe now that we were before 9/11.

We need a change before it’s too late!

They’ve made us less safe in the world!

All these line are typical from left-wing political hacks, and all are designed to make you think you are in grave danger without saying it. They blame Republicans for those things, more specifically President Bush. But they don’t mention the context, that we haven’t been attacked since 9/11. Is an attack coming? Probably. We can safely assume they would like to and are probably planning one. But we can also safely assume that we’ve headed off many so far, thanks to those people who’ve made us “less safe” by not surrendering.

Thanks, Hill, for showing your cards.

Cross posted here.

The Michigan State Senate has voted to move their presidential primary to Jan. 15, despite attempts by both national parties to place restrictions on the voting schedule. If the bill passes in the Democratic-controlled House, Gov. Jennifer Granholm (D) has already suggested she will sign it in to law, sending the primary calendar out of whack.Michigan’s push forward is certain to spawn legislative action in other states (Arizona is looking to move, as is Florida), particularly Iowa and New Hampshire, who boast of their “First in the Nation” status in holding the presidential contests. If the race continues, we could be voting for ‘08 in ’07 with Iowa’s primary as early as December, sizing up both parties’ nominees by the beginning of February.

The sooner the nominees are determined the less actual say voters will have, which will only benefit the big-money frontrunners who can afford to compete in multiple states simultaneously.

More troubling is the fact that the days of the outsider candidate are pretty much done. Think what you will of the also-ran candidates on both sides of the aisle, they do offer options and speak on issues that otherwise wouldn’t be addressed. With the shortened primary season, candidates without national name recognition from the start will not get any media coverage, therefore no money. The rush to get a nominee will rob the nominators of the options that have marked the primary process from the beginning.

It will also rob voters of opportunity to get to know the candidates, to see them evolve over time and assess their consistency on issues. Pandering may well be the language that carries the day.

The idea of a tsunami Tuesday plays well in the media because they love what they can sell, an event. The bigger the event, the bigger the sale. It also starts the big show, the final campaign, earlier, which they also love. But is it good for the Republic?

We don’t think so.

Yes, long campaigns are annoying and expensive, but they also serve a purpose; weeding out pretenders, leaving only contenders.

Also, with the nominees being decided by the beginning of February rather than June, it doesn’t allow for any potential changes in the political paradigm that may occur, or things found out about a nominee that may change minds before the final decision is made. It’s like the difference between shopping in a catalog and shopping in a store. You may not know if what you bought fits until it’s too late, only you can’t send it back.

The primary system is not perfect and already involves all those concerns listed above, but to lesser degrees. Clustering the primaries will only serve to exacerbate those problems and, in the long run, may serve to harm the country.

Since the conventions will never return what they once were (and what we’d all be better off with them being again), the actual nominating process by the party members, they now will hold even less significance, if that’s possible. They’ll take place at the end of summer, long after the nominees are chosen. They won’t even be the pep rallies they’ve become because, in order to make news and have a partner to blanket the nation with, the Vice Presidential nominees will be named sometime around April or May, so all news will have been made.

The end result will be even lower voter turn-out. That’s the only conclusion when people are given so long to become indifferent towards, and even loathe candidates.

So, as you look forward to the upcoming (faster than ever before) primary season, think about all we stand to lose with our “gains.”

The echo is so loud when I knockYou have to hand it to Joe Trippi…Actually, no you don’t; OVER-RATED! But, he is nearly as shameless as his boss, and one of our favorite laughingstocks, John Edwards.

In a “Strategy Memo” (desperate plea for money) emailed Wednesday to campaign supporters, Trippi put a whole lotta spin on some recent remarks by Karl Rove, which (accurately) describe Hillary Clinton as divisive. According to Trippi, far from a simple statement of fact, this was an evil ploy by Rove to cause Dems to rally to Clinton’s defense, thus making her the nominee, and saving the GOP candidate from what would inevitably be the steamrolling of a generation at the hands of the incredible John Edwards, America’s favorite superficial, hypocritical, patronizing trial lawyer.

This is a tactic similar to the one used a few months ago when Edwards commenced his mystifying strategy of running for leader of the free world by fighting with Ann Coulter. Edwards continued his shtick in Iowa last week claiming that his wife’s recent statements were being scrutinized “because she stood up to that she-devil Ann Coulter.” While we can neither confirm nor deny that his description of Ann Coulter is true, the only person this writer has ever heard use the term “she-devil” was much funnier, and was referring to a much more attractive woman.

(Side note: If you need a textbook example of how to ham-handedly encourage and empower your attacker, just review the Edwards’s reaction to Ann Coulter’s barbs over the last few months. Also, see his foreign policy.)

How has this fundraising tactic worked? Not well. As the Wall Street Journal’s Washington Wire blog points out, “Edwards, with $23 million in total contributions, trails both Clinton ($63 million) and Sen. Barack Obama ($58.9 million) in both fundraising and presidential preference polls.”

So, as you can imagine, we’re wiping the sweat from our brows at the knowledge that we won’t have to run against this second-rate hack in ’08.

This morning Jason discussed the latest 2008 Power Rankings and took a shot at Michelle Obama and Elizabeth Edwards. Come on people, it was 6:40 in the morning, enough with the hate mail!

Mitt Romney’s campaign, having won the Ames poll and feeling strong in Iowa, are now turning the heavy artillery on New Hampshire in the form of radio ads blasting the “sanctuary” city policies of New York, Newark and San Francisco.

While the ad does not mention his main rival, Rudy Giuliani, by name, it is an obvious attack on the former New York mayor.

The ads come on the heels of Romney and Giuliani exchanging sound bytes over the “sanctuary city” issue last week.

This Giuliani/Romney battle, combined with the recent Clinton/Obama dust-ups are indicative of a race that appears to be consolidating faster than in past races. The first tier horses are starting to jostle with each other, rather than the lower tier horses, making it appear as if they don’t consider the lower tier as challengers in the race.

What’s more surprising, that Senator Joe Biden has enough money to air expensive TV ads in Iowa, or that he comes across as the most rational, experienced candidate on the left? If not for the presence of Hurricane Hillary, and Senator Obama being a media-fueled rock star minority, Joe Biden just might be your front runner. Watch Biden’s impressive debut below.

Sure, this isn’t about any of the candidates and should just be left on the other blog, but since everyone is making it an issue this year, what the hell? Might as well post it here, too.

The Gipper did it for the same reasons we do it; it isn’t any good.Michael Moore has become the champion of socialized medicine over the last year with his flop movie Sicko. Seems flops don’t seem to bother the Democrats, just look at what happened to Howard Dean.

Anyway, as an example of better living through socialized medicine, Moore took his cameras to England to highlight the joys of their National Health Service and presented a rosy picture of everyone getting everything they need without paying anything out of pocket. Sounds like Utopia, doesn’t it? Too bad it isn’t true.

You see, socialized medicine, or “free health care,” as Moore prefers to call it isn’t free at all, and it isn’t very good for your health. Aside from the oppressive taxes needed to fund it and their stagnating effect on the economy (higher unemployment is but one of the side effects of those taxes), the wait times and straight-up refusal to cover certain things make socialized medicine a great system just as long as you don’t get sick.

We’ve posted examples of the measures to which people stuck in these systems will go to obtain care they need rather than wait their turn, meaning suffer until they can be helped. Remember the woman who made up a batch of fake blood she claimed to vomit so she could skip the long lines where she was forced to wait and wait for a hernia operation, something done regularly and on an out-patient basis in the US? How about the 108 year old woman who was told she would have to wait 18 months for a new hearing aid, should arrive just in time to be buried with her.

Well, we now have another fine example of just what socialized medicine will do for us, or, to put it more accurately, to us.

Anthony Wilson, founder of Factory Records (the label that brought us Joy Division, The Happy Mondays and New Order, just to name a few) and television personality in England is going to die soon from cancer. It’s a shame, but it’s true.

Unfortunately for Wilson, it isn’t really the cancer that’s going to kill him, it’s the National Health Service. See, the NHS won’t pay for the drugs needed to help him fend off the cancer, a drug that has doubled the life expectancy of patients in clinical trials.

Why won’t they pay for it? Did you really think they paid for everything in socialized medicine? Well, they pay for everything they cover. If they don’t cover it, you’re kind of screwed. You either have to pay for it yourself, or go without. When the diagnosis is cancer, going without isn’t the best option.

A dirty little secret the Michael Moores of the world don’t want you to know about is the delay in introducing new drugs into a market with socialized medicine’s price controls. But it’s important to note. Check this out and see if you’re willing to wait an extra 6 months while the government haggles over prices.

In many socialize medicine countries it is illegal to purchase private insurance in order to avoid the long wait times and additional suffering single-payer health systems bring with them. Thankfully, that trend is changing, at least in Canada.

But private health insurance is legal in England, but Wilson has refused to buy it. See, he’s bought completely into the NHS. Now that he needs it he’s beginning to realize how big of a mistake that actually turned out to be.

“I’ve never paid for private healthcare because I’m a socialist. Now I find you can get tummy tucks and cosmetic surgery on the NHS but not the drugs I need to stay alive. It is a scandal.”

No, Mr. Wilson, it is not a scandal, it’s not even new, it’s exactly what you and people like Michael Moore have supported for years. It’s exactly what you’re refused to see while it was too late for others. Now it’s most likely too late for you.

It’s a shame, really. Maybe his friends and the people he’s made rich over the years (maybe even Michael Moore, though we doubt it) will come through with more money than just enough for 5 months worth of the drugs he needs. Maybe the “Big Pharmaceutical” companies will give him free drugs because, well, that’s what they do for people who can’t afford life-saving drugs (no matter how much they are demonized by the Left). Or maybe he die.

We don’t wish ill upon anyone, even a socialist, but this should serve as a lesson to everyone; be careful what you wish for because you just might get it.

Ron Paul’s war chest (or battle chest, compared to Mitt Romney) may not amount to much, but despite limited funds, Paul has been performing well. After a 5th place finish last week in the Iowa straw poll, where he drew 9.1% of votes, he vaulted into 3rd place in yesterday’s Illinois straw poll, garnering 18.9% of the votes, finishing only behind Romney’s spending machine (40.4%) and Fred Thompson (20.0%).

It seems Ron Paul’s heavy internet presence is finally translating into substantial real world support. The Congressman now has his sights set on his home state of Texas, where he enjoys extensive name recognition. Texas will hold its straw poll on Sept 1st, and if Paul can continue his recent upswing in popularity with an impressive showing there, the frontrunners may be forced to start paying attention to the dark horse.

So dreamy, yet so douchey.Throughout his campaign, John Edwards has spit a lot of venom at the subprime lenders many feel have been preying on homeowners and causing the recent crisis in the housing market. As he is quoted by his campaign in a press release:

“While Washington turns a blind eye, irresponsible lenders are pulling a fast one on hard-working homeowners. Using deceptive practices, hidden fees, and abusive terms, they have already taken billions of dollars from hard-working homeowners, destroying their nest eggs in the process. … It’s time to put an end to the shameful lending practices that are compromising our strength as a nation.”

Funny then that he’s made so much money off the very practices he so sharply derides.

The Wall Street Journal has identified 34 New Orleans homes whose owners have faced foreclosure suits from subprime-lending units of Fortress Investment Group LLC. Mr. Edwards has about $16 million invested in Fortress funds, according to a campaign aide who confirmed a more general Federal Election Commission report. Mr. Edwards worked for Fortress, a publicly held private-equity fund, from late 2005 through 2006.”

That’s right; post-Katrina New Orleans, where he announced his candidacy in the backyard of such a home, his fallback talking point and favorite symbol of all that is wrong with America.

The hypocrisy of John Edwards is almost overwhelming. What’s worse is how many among the country’s most vulnerable people believe his lies. And that makes him the worst kind of predator.
Cross posted to www.itsfirstfriday.com

Welcome to the latest edition of PoliticalDerby.com’s 2008 Power Rankings, the original tracking service in the current race for the White House. The rankings are updated as circumstances warrant and are compiled by our Editor and contributors using wire reports, polls, campaign staffer scuttlebutt and confidential tips.

As promised (or threatened) we have trimmed the number of ranked horses from 10 to 5 with Labor Day approaching and the Ames straw poll now behind us. You’ll find the long-odds horses in the “Others receiving votes” category.

Rankings last updated: August 16, 2007

The DEM Horse Tip Sheet
Power Ranking The Horse Momentum The Tip Sheet
1 Hillary Clinton Clinton Up Hillary miraculously avoided the minefield of YearlyKos with only a few boos from the netroots. Playing the chess game of courting the Left-wing lunatic fringe while not alienating the middle better than anyone else, she’s widening her impressive lead in national polls. But her support amongst the Left seems more, “Yeah, sure, fine, whatever” than “I love Hill!” Will that be enough to walk away with the nomination? There’s just no passion in the relationship with her supporters. (Not that Hillary isn’t familiar with passionless relationships. She’s been in one for 32 years.) (previous ranking: #1)
2 Barack Obama Obama Even Obama took nuclear weapons off the table, no matter what, then put them back, sort of. Also said he would attack an ally, risking putting Pakistan’s nuclear weapons into the hands of those sworn to destroy us. Obama is the recipient of the most pointless and offensive question thus far in campaign 2008. “Are you black enough?” But lately the more appropriate question is, “Are you competent enough?” (previous ranking: #2)
3 Bill Richardson Richardson Even Richardson is on the rise only if measured against Edwards’ fall. He has managed to avoid most of the pitfalls that trip also-rans and in the process is looking like a savvy VP choice. But to remain on the short list he has to avoid his penchant for pandering. Eyes rolled statewide when Richardson told the media he would rank Iowa in the top 10 of terrorist targets. Even the terrorist cells holed up in Iowa don’t know where Iowa is. (previous ranking: #3)
4 John Edwards Edwards Even Rumors are swirling that Edwards has a lucrative new book deal: From Frontrunner to Also-ran in Three Simple Steps. One, build the largest house in North America. Two, get haircuts that cost more than most people spend on haircuts during their entire lives. Three, demonize Wal-Mart while purchasing a PlayStation 3 from … wait for it … Wal-Mart. Take these steps while talking about two Americas, one rich, one poor, and you’re guaranteed to be hit with charges of insincerity, as was the case with his home state’s largest newspaper. Sounds like a bestseller. (previous ranking: #4)
5 Joe Biden Biden Even Joe Biden, aka the first person ever to run for Secretary of State in a presidential primary. Not nearly crazy enough to win support of the DailyKos crowd, he was the only Democrat candidate to avoid kissing the ring of the netroots. Biden comes across in the debates as the most level-headed of the Democrats running, which is like being the most sober pop star; you’re still drunk. Is it difficult to relate to average Americans when you’ve been a Senator since the age of 29? (previous ranking: #5)
Others receiving votes: Christopher Dodd, Al Gore, Mike Gravel, Dennis Kucinich

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The GOP Horse Tip Sheet
Power Ranking The Horse Momentum The Tip Sheet
1 Mitt Romney Romney Up Mitt met expectations, not an easy thing to do in take-no-prisoners politics, and won the Ames Straw Poll big. But everyone knows he was the only major candidate taking it seriously. Polling very well in Iowa and New Hampshire, but still dragging nationally. If he can’t find a way to become known to the nation more for his policies than his religion, he has potential next January to bomb bigger than Daddy Day Camp. Yes, he’s raised a lot of money, but he can’t afford to keep spending more than $400 per vote, especially when those votes don’t matter. (previous ranking: #3)
2 Rudy Giuliani Giuliani Down Rudy skipped Iowa, which is probably an indication of his future fate there. But he still leads in the polls almost everywhere else and his no-show in Ames may not damage him as much as a poor showing certainly would have. It’s time for America’s Mayor to become comfortable with what he did do on 9/11 so he’ll stop getting baited into claiming credit for things he didn’t do on 9/11. His biggest asset is starting to reveal albatross potential. (previous ranking: #1)
3 Fred Thompson Fred Thompson Down Freddy T’s flirtation with running served him well for months, but his fans are growing tired of waiting for him to ask their hand in marriage. He’s waited so long that his real wife is getting more media attention than he is and he’s had more campaign leadership shuffles than anyone in history who hasn’t officially joined the campaign. It’s time to put up or shut up, or he runs risk of arriving at the altar alone. (previous ranking: #2)
4 Mike Huckabee Huckabee Up The only person not surprised by Huckabee’s showing in the straw poll is Huckabee himself. Finishing second, while only spending $58 per vote, is a terrific showing for someone the media has been considering an also-ran from Day One. Surely Giuliani’s decision not to participate helped, but so have his stellar showings in the debates. If there is an argument to be made for so many debates so early, Huckabee is it. But he would be the only argument for so many debates so early. (And there is no argument, period, for having Chris Matthews or Keith Olbermann hosting debates no matter how early they are.) (previous ranking: #5)
5 John McCain McCain Down Yes, McCain is still running … this time away from his stance on immigration reform. His switch on a key GOP issue seems too little too late to regain traction or track position. Even the rock thrown in the pond by Mike Gravel didn’t sink to the bottom this fast. And when you lose the straw poll to Duncan Hunter you know that pain in your butt is a fork. (previous ranking: tied for #4)
Others receiving votes: Sam Brownback, Newt Gingrich, Duncan Hunter, Ron Paul, Tom Tancredo

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In a contest which pitted Mitt against, well, no one really, Romney spent loads of money and managed to pay enough to secure a win in the Iowa straw poll. Yes, the same straw poll which the other frontrunners deemed irrelevant long ago.

Hurrah!” scream Mitt and his patriotic sons, after winning a plurality amounting to less than 1/3 of the votes cast. Second tier candidates Mike Huckabee, Sam Brownback, Tom Tancredo, Ron Paul and Tommy Thompson combined to receive more than twice the votes of Romney, and likely spent less money to do so. And, of course, Rudy Giuliani, John McCain and Fred Thompson haven’t exactly pulled out of the race just yet.

So where does that leave Mr. Romney? Well, with possibly a few extra votes in Iowa when it matters, and with a few million less in the bank. For a savvy businessman, perhaps not the best way to go. It reminds one of that ancient proverb: The horse that runs its fastest before the race begins, by the end finds itself looking like a behind, as it looks at behinds from behind.