Friday, January 18, 2008

And Down the Stretch They Come

“You know everyone thinks we got this broken down horse and fixed him. But we didn't. He fixed us. Every one of us. And I guess in a way, we fixed each other, too.”
- Seabiscuit’s Jockey Red Pollard

South Carolina is a frantic place today. Even here in Kansas I can hear the sound of hoofs pounding against the track as the Republican candidates for president make the final turn into the homestretch. No matter what vantage point, no matter the pundit, it appears too close to call. Some see McCain by a nose; others see Huckabee making a furious charge down the stretch. And, laying along the rail are Romney and McCain. Who will have the intestinal fortitude to fend off the competition? It’s anyone’s guess.

I’m placing my bets on the dark horse from Arkansas. He has this history of coming from behind, overcoming the odds, and he’s good down the stretch, when it really counts.

I’m not sure how much more the candidates can say, but their handlers will find something. In a race that appears to be neck and neck any small advantage, a nuance here, a statement there, could make all the difference in the world.

Will South Carolina be the definitive race for the Republicans? I doubt it. As I said yesterday, a brokered convention with four candidates coming to Minnesota with delegates in tow is a real possibility. As Jennifer Rubin noted earlier today:

“Will South Carolina voters give us a definitive frontrunner on Saturday? Certainly a loss by Thompson or Huckabee may cripple their efforts. However, after a display of non-momentum from the earlier contests many are doubtful that South Carolina will crown a winner and even a close second by a “must win” contender may be incentive enough to keep going. Clemson political science professor Stephen Wainscott contends that “the effect of South Carolina will be only to further blur the picture” and the winner “will merely go into Super Tuesday with an edge.”

The candidates will only have a moment or two to breathe after South Carolina, then it’s on to Florida and Super Tuesday. It’s gonna’ be fun.

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