Presidential candidates gone, soon forgotten

Inevitably, presidential candidates whose lack of funding and popularity has been made abundantly clear are dying off as the Super Tuesday primaries on February 5 approach.

Inevitably, presidential candidates whose lack of funding and popularity has been made abundantly clear are dying off as the Super Tuesday primaries on February 5 approach. Kucinich is the latest to drop out, and apparently now faces a tough reelection bid to Congress, in part because of constituent anger about his Quixotic – some might say idiotic -- run for president.

Kucinich's exit follows that of Fred Thompson last week, who, after entering the race with much hoopla – some might say hooey – about down-home, conservative values, issued a bland three-sentence press release on Tuesday announcing his withdrawal. His lack of interest in campaigning was noted continuously during his time in the race, and in the postmortems now being written about him.

Did he initially intend only to finagle a vice presidential nomination and accidentally got caught up in running for president? The LA Times' Andrew Malcolm reports on rumors that his candidacy was more accidental than planned. Certainly, it seemed Thompson was hoping the public as a whole would simply clamor for his election, allowing him to conduct an old-style “front porch” campaign, a la James Buchanan. Michael Bloomberg, be warned.

With all the dead wood now being cut out of the races – Rep. Duncan Hunter of California has also dropped out of the Republican contest, though few people knew he was running – media reports are now focusing on whom these extra voters may turn to. Did Thompson take conservative, religious voters away from Huckabee in South Carolina, as Huckabee claims, aiding McCain's victory there? Likewise, will Edwards voters take away from Clinton votes in South Carolina tomorrow?

The Republican race is now down to four, with Romney and McCain the frontrunners, Huckabee still perceived as something of a dark horse with appeal limited mainly to religious conservatives, and Giuliani a big question mark whose fate will likely be determined by how well he does in Florida on February 5.

On the Democratic side, the race is not just a question of Clinton vs. Obama, but what will become of Edwards' voters, whenever he finally acknowledges that he can't win. Oft quoted now in reports about his candidacy is a telling question from him during a recent Democratic debate that centered on Clinton and Obama: “Can I say something now?”

Elsewhere on the trail…

National media use stereotypes to portray SC, Columbia arts paper says.

CNN to devote 40 consecutive hours of coverage to February 5 primaries.

Obama's Late Show Top 10 list includes promise to pronounce “nuclear” as two syllables.

NYT endorses Clinton, McCain for respective party nominations.

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