Yes, the state's A.G. and the trailer-trash food queen are all up in each other's Cool-Whipped manicotti! Plus, Claus von Bulow was sad to hear of the death of the wife he may have tried to kill decades ago. In the gossip roundup!
This election has been going on for so long and has taken us in so many directions that we almost forgot Fred Thompson, the Tennessee senator best known as Arthur Branch on Law & Order, was ever in the race.
Rudy Giuliani has finally cracked and recognized that today's Florida results could possibly signal the end of his campaign. Asked whether he would drop out after a loss today, the former mayor told reporters yesterday: "When it's Wednesday morning, we'll make the decision." Since much of the press has already decided that Giuliani is dead in the water, speculation has turned to how he will drop out, and when. He'll definitely participate in tomorrow's Republican debate, but sources for the New York Sun argue that he won't risk a major loss in New York State next Tuesday. If it's proven that he's not even popular in his home state anymore, where he made his name, it would be a blow to his reputation, would be bad for his business, Giuliani Partners, and would undermine his candidacy for a Cabinet position in the future. It's all about the Giuliani brand name, which has made him millions as a speaker and as a consultant. As Maureen Dowd pointed out on Sunday, he's not even likely to put up a tough fight on the way out, in order to preserve the purchase power of his name. He'll likely last a few extra days, like Fred Thompson did after losing big in South Carolina, and then bow out quietly without drama. To think, it was less than eight years ago that he dropped out of the New York Senate race after battling a tidal wave of negative press after his high-profile split from Donna Hanover. And critics said Giuliani couldn't change.
RUDY HINTS FLA. HIS LAST STAND [NYP]
Fred Thompson has dropped out of the presidential race. "Today, I have withdrawn my candidacy for president of the United States," the former Tennessee senator said in a statement that was just released. "I hope that my country and my party have benefited from our having made this effort." There was no announcement of whether he would be endorsing one of his former Republican rivals for the nomination. Thompson had said that he needed to win this weekend's South Carolina primary, in which he placed third, in order to continue the campaign. To which we say, good call. The odds of winning are much better on Law & Order, anyway.
Fred Thompson Quits Presidential Race [AP]
The presidential campaign of Fred Dalton Thompson has surely been among the most puzzling curios of this year’s Republican race. Maddeningly long in gestation, then apparently stillborn, it has been an effort so laconic, even lazy, that its slogan might as well have been: Thompson 2008 – As if It Mattered.
There are three obvious ways to interpret Mitt Romney's victory in the Republican primary in Michigan. The first is that Romney — whose father, George, was a three-term governor of the state — won on the basis of his favorite-son status, nothing more and nothing less. The second is that Romney, whose campaign for the past year has been an object lesson in the dangers of absolute and abject artifice in national politics, finally, to steal a phrase from Hillary Clinton, found his own voice: the voice of pragmatic, problem-solving managerialism. And the third is that the GOP nominating contest has become a full-fledged goat rodeo: On any given day, any given candidate might just emerge (temporarily) triumphant.
While the press has been running ragged up in New Hampshire, we set journalist Peter Keating to work watching the candidates to see which ones were putting in the most effort. Contrary to what the 24-hour news cycle would have you believe, some of them sleep. Some of them skip events. And some of them, well, aren't really trying. Later tonight, we'll bring you the results of all the hard work. For now, Keating's report from the campaign trail begins in a predictable place:
"Mayor Rudy Giuliani's Visit Here Today At 4:30pm Has Been Cancelled," reads a sign hanging in the window at John's Barber Shop, an old-school establishment nestled among the charming shops on Daniel Street in Portsmouth, N.H.
Of course it's been canceled. Rudy had better things to do this afternoon than to keep grubbing for votes in a state where he's been vying to keep pace with Duncan Hunter in the polls.
Today, Iowa is all about the last word. Encouraged by a recent favorable opinion poll in the state, McCain returned for a brief trip, along with Senators Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Sam Brownback of Kansas. All three were harping on McCain's foreign-policy experience. “Call me old-fashioned, but I think foreign-policy experience matters,” Graham said. “And if it does matter, then the choice is easy.” “I know Pakistan, I know Israel," explained McCain at a different event. "I know these countries, I know their leaders." [NYO]
Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton sent out talking points to surrogate speakers drumming up support across the state. They include bullet items like "Change isn’t something you just demand, or hope for, it is something you work for, and [Hillary] has been working for it all her life," and "Hillary has stood up to the Republicans and beat them twice in landslides." [Time]
Last night’s Republican CNN/YouTube debate opened with fireworks: Rudy Giuliani and Mitt Romney heatedly debating whether Romney was responsible for hiring illegal immigrants to work on his house (and if so, would he recommend them to friends and neighbors). But like an actual fireworks display, it soon grew repetitive and numbing. For those of you who flipped to Kid Nation, here’s a rundown of the evening’s highlights.