The most recent casualty of the race, Mitt Romney, was running a strong race, but has "suspended" his campaign in the face of John McCain's juggernaut rise through the cluttered Republican field of candidates. That left Mike Huckabee, the come-from-nowhere governor of Arkansas and Baptist minister who is arguably where he is because a spark of attention he got from Stephen Colbert. It's not that Colbert, however much he'd like to take credit, "made" Mike Huckabee, but the attention he got on Colbert's show boosted his campaign enough that people knew his name. That got him enough popular mind share to get some airtime that he has used very, very effectively to deliver a homespun, conservative Christian message that is increasingly popular in hometown America. And with Romney out of the race, he's the only serious competition for McCain. His strategy at the moment seems to be winning enough delegates to keep McCain from achieving the critical 1,191 votes it takes to win the Republican nomination before the National Convention in September. He said as much in his speech after the "Potomac Primaries" poll closings, suggesting that something may happen to the elder Senator between now and then; he stopped short of calling such a race-changing event, whatever it may be, a miracle, but the implication was certainly there.
The other Republican still holding on is Congressman Ron Paul, the popular Constitutionalist who seems to average around four percent of the vote in every primary, mostly culled from the Internet where his plain-spoken sensibility is only overshadowed by Senator Barack Obama. Congressman Paul is clear and vociferous about his message, and hasn't wavered throughout the whole campaign, something that the other candidates from both parties have a hard time claiming. Unfortunately, in this era of quips, buzzwords and an endemic shortened attention span, the Congressman's call for a "return to a constitutional government" has the sound of stodginess. It's clear by now that, short of "a critical event" such as one speculated on by Governor Huckabee, Ron Paul's chances for winning his party's nomination are slim. His dogged continuation on the campaign trail in the face of such overwhelming odds shows that he's committed to getting his message across. Hopefully his supporters realize that they're spending money to promote the message, not the candidate.
In the 2004 election, I remember hearing one of John Kerry's speeches where he pulled off the same tenor and tempo trick that is the hallmark of any great orator. I remember thinking that, if he could do that same thing every day for the rest of the campaign, he would have a chance of beating George W. Bush. As it turned out, his speech was a one-off. Never again did I hear him speak in that same fashion, and in the end, President Bush won re-election in a sweeping victory. Senator Kerry may not have had a chance either way, but on that day he had the nation's ear and he let go of it.