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February 8, 2008

What a Ride!

Roy Meachum

Did anyone notice? Tuesday's primaries in Maryland, the District of Columbia and Virginia could be important; unlike past years when our votes came after the fact of the parties' selecting their nominees.

The GOP may disagree. John McCain's delegates' total Wednesday morning was virtually triple those of Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee, causing the former Massachusetts governor to "suspend" his race. Mr. Huckabee, at this writing, hangs on.

Hoisting high the party's banner still figures as no shoo-in for the senator from Arizona; he could be brought low by his nominal allies. Dismiss the passel of talk show hosts and hostesses who brand the frontrunner as a traitor to Republican ideals; they operate on hot air, as we know.

Slipping into the GOP watch party election night, I was somewhat astonished to hear a Frederick resident's voice similar sentiments. One local attorney said: "If it's John McCain against Hillary Clinton, I will probably stay home that day." (He said nothing about Sen. Barack Obama.)

The best hope for slapping string and wrapping tape on the GOP could possibly come from slipping Mr. Huckabee into the number two slot. Nobody can quibble with the former Arkansas governor's position on key issues, like birth control and immigration. It was Chuck Norris, after all, who warned President McCain would die (of old age) in office; he could be succeeded by the vice president. Actor Norris is a died-in-the-wool Huckabee fan.

In the other camp when all Tuesday's ballots were counted Senator Obama lagged Hillary Clinton by less than a hundred delegates. That's what I meant at the beginning. The only name for the game as pundits and politicians allowed is grabbing delegates to the candidates'' sides.

On that basis I continue to marvel at Ms. Clinton's media-proclaimed "victory" in Nevada. In that duster, Mr. Obama emerged with one more delegate than she.

When all the dust settled, the darling of the regular Democrats stood 1045 against the "new kid's" 960. Still in the way before our turn comes are Kansas, Louisiana, Nebraska and Washington on Saturday and Maine Democratic caucuses Monday. At stake next Tuesday are 239 Democratic delegates and 119 Republicans.

Whether "true conservatives" back off or stay in the game, the GOP nominees look likely to have a rough row to hoe; the economic crisis, even if stopped short of deep recession, is really the proverbial last straw. The genuine excitement on the other side, as reflected in Democratic crowds in the polling places augur strongly for a Democratic landslide in November.

Voting November 12 could prove anti-climactic.

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