Not since 1952 has the nation entered a presidential
year with greater seeming uncertainty as to who will
face off in November.
Early that year, Tennessee
Sen. Estes Kefauver upset Harry Truman in New Hampshire,
relieving the nation by dashing Harry`s hopes for
another four years. The Republican race would be a
titanic struggle between the Eastern Establishment`s
Gen. Dwight Eisenhower and "Mr. Republican,"
Robert Taft, the conservative paragon.
Splitting the primaries between them, Ike and Taft
fought all the way to the convention, where Ike`s Texas
delegates were seated and Bob Taft`s booted.
How important was that race? Ike would win and serve
two terms. His
young running mate, Richard Nixon, would be twice
president. A dark horse for that GOP nomination,
Gov. Earl Warren of California, who
threw his support to Ike at a critical moment, would
be named chief justice. Out of that Republican race
would come the Eisenhower era, the Nixon presidency, the
And though the 2008 GOP race may seem wide open, it
is already probably down to three candidates, could be
over by Jan. 4 and will probably be down to two by Jan.
9, the morning after New Hampshire.
The front-runner since spring, Rudy Giuliani, is
close to toast.
By dropping out of the
Iowa Straw Poll in August, Rudy ceded Iowa and the
cornucopia of publicity the winner receives. He is
running far behind in Iowa, sinking in New Hampshire and
certain to be skunked twice by Jan. 9. If so, he will
lose Michigan, then South Carolina, where he is already
far behind, and Florida, his firewall, where he is now
slipping behind both Mike Huckabee and Mitt Romney.
If Rudy is 0-4 going into Florida, he loses Florida.
If he is 0-5 going into the Feb. 5 Super Tuesday states,
his national lead will be ancient history. In some
national polls, it has already vanished.
The same holds for Fred Thompson. Though Iowans were
eagerly awaiting his appearance at the straw poll, Fred,
too, took a pass. And though he seems ideally suited to
the party, he is running so far behind in New Hampshire
and Michigan it is hard to see how he survives to reach
home base, South Carolina. There, he is already behind
Romney and Huckabee. In New Hampshire, Fred is behind
Wisely, he is headed for Iowa to put all his chips on
a strong showing, hoping Romney and Huckabee will do to
each other what Dick Gephardt and Howard Dean did: rip
each other out of contention.
If Fred does not make a strong showing in Iowa, a
prediction: He will drop out and endorse John McCain,
who has a shot at repeating his 2000 win in New
Hampshire. For McCain has the endorsement of the
Manchester Union-Leader and Boston Globe, and Rudy is
pulling out of the Granite State, ceding the moderates
to McCain, hoping he will stop Romney there and keep his
own fading hopes alive.
If Mitt Romney wins New Hampshire, drop the curtain
for Rudy, Thompson and McCain — and they know it. For
if Mitt wins in New Hampshire, none of the three beats
him in Michigan, they will not beat him in South
Carolina, and they will not beat him in Florida.
Can McCain, who kicked away what seemed a
near-certain nomination by embracing the
Bush-Kennedy amnesty and stiffing the Iowa Straw
Poll, win? Not impossible. If he can win New Hampshire
and make himself the national alternative to Huckabee, a
desperate GOP establishment might rally to him for lack
of an alternative.
But McCain`s fate is not entirely in his own hands.
He needs an assist. He needs Huckabee to defeat Romney
in Iowa, where McCain will be waxed, then to come back
and beat Romney himself in New Hampshire. Two losses by
Romney in states where he has invested millions would
put his campaign on life support.
But if Romney wins Iowa, he will win New Hampshire
and Michigan, and go into South Carolina 3-0. If Romney
wins the first two, he is almost surely the nominee. For
that would eliminate Rudy, McCain and Thompson, leaving
the only man able to stop him in South Carolina a
twice-defeated Mike Huckabee and his Christian prayer
So, two weeks out from Iowa, here are the odds.
Rudy and Thompson each 20-1. John McCain 6-1. He has
to win New Hampshire, and even if he wins there, he
would be an underdog. Grass-roots conservatives
do not like him and would prefer Huckabee.
Mitt Romney 3-2. If he wins Iowa, he is almost
unstoppable. If he loses Iowa, he has to come back and
beat McCain in New Hampshire. Then it would a Mitt-Mike
race through Feb. 5.
And Huckabee? He has to win Iowa. But if he does, he
will be the favorite in South Carolina and for the
nomination, as well.
Looks like a Mitt-Mike race, with Iowa and New
Hampshire giving us by Jan. 9 the two candidates from
whom the nominee will be chosen. And isn`t that how it
usually is? Iowa and New Hampshire choose for America.
CREATORS SYNDICATE, INC.
Patrick J. Buchanan
to VDARE.COM readers; his book
State of Emergency: The Third World Invasion and
Conquest of America,
can be ordered from Amazon.com. His new book