Time magazine teases that Giuliani is expected to endorse McCain, maybe as soon as Wednesday. But no details yet. If true, it might explain Rudy’s passive-beyond-passive-aggressive performance at last week’s debate. Get ready to see a slew of McCain/Giuliani bumper stickers at the Republican convention, if not sooner.
What does that mean? Well, if Rudy pledges his delegates to McCain — and there’s no reason to think he won’t — then McCain will enjoy a windfall of… one entire delegate. Should Rudy win any others, McCain will get those, too.
The real question is, how will Giuliani voters break from here? There are still some die-hard Thompson supporters (I’m one of them), who vow to support their man all the way to the convention(… and beyond!). I don’t think Rudy has generated that kind of deep support. It’s a safe bet that if you think Rudy is just fine as a Republican, then you probably don’t have much trouble with McCain. You might think Mitt is just dandy, but McCain is probably more your style.
So tonight, McCain wins twice. Start looking for those bumper stickers.
5:18 pm PST:
If current trends continue, Rudy Giuliani might just place fourth tonight, behind Mike Huckabee.
Right now the two are neck and neck, with the slight edge for Giuliani. But polls have only just now closed in the panhandle, which is a lot more conservative, and tons more evangelical, than the rest of the state. Those voters aren’t likely to like Rudy. If they break for Huckabee, then it really is all over for Giuliani.
But — they might go for Romney, and doom McCain’s slim lead.
Remember, you read it here first: There’s a good chance Rudy comes in fourth in Florida.
4:56 pm PST:
With 10% of the precincts in, it’s probably safe to call Florida for Hillary Clinton. Not that it matters, except that it does.
The DNC stripped Florida of all of its delegates, as punishment for holding such an early primary. So other than bragging rights, Florida doesn’t matter. Technically, anyway. It should be noted that despite a gentlemen’s agreement not to, Hillary campaigned in Florida, unlike any of the other Democrats — they all kept their word. It should also be noted that Clinton is widely expected to make a push to “restore” at least some of Florida’s delegates, should she need them to secure the nomination. (Clinton pulled a similar trick earlier this month in Michigan.)
So. After promising not to campaign in Florida and then doing just that, Clinton could try and magically “re-enfranchise” voters there. 2000 was a mess. 2008 is already weird, and could get worse.
On the Republican side, McCain and Romney are flip-flopping (pun, as always, fully intended) between first and second. Every time new results come in, they seem to trade places.
This could be a long night, kids, and I’m already halfway through the first bottle of chianti.
4:29 pm PST:
Watching Lou Dobbs on CNN, and I have to give credit where it’s due. You might not agree with what he says, but Dobbs does have the power to make you think. For example, when he talks about how free trade is harming the middle class, you can’t help but think, “This guy really needs to have a serious heart-to-heart with his colorist.” And just now, as he’s introducing a piece on mortgage fraud, I find myself questioning some basic premises. Such as, “Who does he think he’s fooling with that hair?”
Memo to CNN: More flatscreen zoomie maps, and less Lou. Please.
The first numbers coming in, from a handful of precincts. McCain 29%, Romney 28, Giuliani and Huckabee tied at 18%, and the Ron Paul Revolution is well under way, with nearly 1,300 voters in the entire state of Florida. Or as we like to call it, the last 3% on the right hand side of the sanity bell curve.
4:07 pm PST:
Exit polls are coming in from Florida, and they look like this:
Now if there’s one thing we learned from the 2004 presidential election, it’s that exit polls suck. That said, they’ve been a lot better this year. Also, the broad outline is pretty clear. McCain and Romney are duking it out for first place, and Giuliani and Huckabee are vying for third.
What’s that mean? Not much, really. Florida is a winner-take-all state, so whoever wins wins pretty big. But as we discussed earlier, the winner will get only half as many delegates as they would have had Florida not bumped up its primary. But the momentum sure will be nice for either Mitt or John.
And the third place winner? Sorry, but only two real candidates will leave Florida. Rudy has run his course. Huckabee won’t be president, either. Ron Paul will survive, like a cockroach after a nuclear war.
But the superpowers here are McCain and Romney. They won’t notice the cockroaches as they move on to Super Duper Tuesday next week.
Stay tuned for more as precincts report in, any time now.
9:55 am PST:
Fox News just ran a story on Bill Clinton, giving a speech for Hillary in New Jersey. The thrust of the story was that, after all the fuss in South Carolina last week, this week it wasn’t still All About Bill. So I did some channel surfing and a little digging on the web, and it’s isn’t still All About Bill.
This week, it’s All About How It Isn’t All About Bill.
First, there was the Fox News story. Then I found this Bob Novak column on the Drudge Report:
The pugnacious campaign strategy of Bill and Hillary Clinton in forcefully identifying Obama as the black candidate spreads concern that they could be putting at risk continued massive, unconditional support for Democrats by African Americans. The long-range situation is so disturbing that some Clinton supporters talk about an outcome they rejected not long ago: a Clinton-Obama ticket.
It’s still about Bill! And who says that a Clinton has to be at the top of that ticket?
And when Ted Kennedy endorsed Obama? That might be All About Bill, too:
Some analysts saw Kennedy’s endorsement — which cast Obama as an heir to the idealism of John Kennedy — partly as a response to critical comments about Obama by Clinton’s husband, former President Bill Clinton.
Of course, Kennedy denies it. But I question the timing.
George Will defends Obama against Clinton’s race-and-Reagan-baiting, and even accuses John McCain of being, well, Clintonian:
Obama is running against two Clintons — or one and a fraction of one, given how much she has been diminished by her overbearing spouse. Romney is marginally better off running against a Clinton impersonator.
Colorado doesn’t vote until next Tuesday, but even the Front Range is all aflutter about “Billary.” We don’t even give Hillary her own first name anymore. Read this from Denver Post columnist David Harsanyi:
The Clintons have long played on victimhood and fear – or, more precisely, any tool to win power. Obama is only the latest to get a taste. As bad as the last seven years might have been, we’re now reminded that the previous eight years were as ugly and divisive as any. The Clintons won’t let us forget.
Some of us would probably love to forget Bill, but Bill certainly isn’t about to let that happen. And his enemies/enablers (enamlers?) in the press aren’t going to show us any kindness, either.
And what’s going on in Washington? It’s All About Bill there, too.
Washington’s liberal establishment – members of Congress, fundraisers and commentators – has coalesced around the view that Bill Clinton is soiling his legacy and wounding Hillary Rodham Clinton’s prospects as he rambles around the country in a peevish, piece-of-my-mind monologue ostensibly devoted to helping her win the Democratic nomination.
Even Fake Steve Jobs is getting into the act.
Meanwhile, how is Hillary getting back out in front? Would you believe, by canceling multiple television interviews? Read this item from Mediabistro.com:
Sen. Hillary Clinton’s staff had confirmed interviews earlier today with Fox News Channel, MSNBC and CNN. They were to be conducted after the President’s State of the Union address. After wrapping an interview with Sen. Obama, CNN’s Anderson Cooper said, “Senator Clinton agreed to talk with us. At the last minute she canceled. Her campaign is offering no explanation.”
MSNBC and FNC confirm with TVNewser that Clinton canceled her appearances on those networks as well.
So even when it’s not actually about Bill, it isn’t exactly about Hill, either. Then again, I’m probably not the only one who thinks that one-half a Clinton for the price of two is a nice break from two for the price of one.
And just in case you thought I hadn’t noticed, what are we talking about during a primary election day that matters to Republicans more than Democrats? Yes, we’re still talking about Bill Clinton.
Finally (for now), I’ll leave you with this thought. By Florida math, one Florida voter is only worth a quarter of an American voter almost anywhere else.* Republicans only count Floridians as half a voter, and today’s Democrat voters won’t count at all. Average that out, and it takes about four Sunshine Staters to equal just one of you or me.
And we wonder how Florida caused so much trouble in 2000? Brace yourselves for what might happen tonight.
*Offer void in Michigan.