Hope for Fred? Mitt may skip South Carolina

The polls are grim (especially the one that has him cratering with five percent), but my black atheist heart bleeds when I see suffering like this. Question, then: Is Mitt’s 15% about to be put back in play, to the possible advantage of the race’s “true conservative”? Keep hope alive!

Romney sources believe the state is coming down to a “knife-fight,” as one put it, between former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and Arizona Sen. John McCain, and that one of the two will not survive after the state’s primary results are in…

“The picking-your-state strategy has worked for all the other candidates who cherrypicked which states they were going to do battle in while letting their opponents fight it out in other ones,” said one Romney aide, revealing a trace of bitterness at the chess moves of the four other Republicans. “It’s time for Mitt Romney to give it a try.”…

The move is striking for at least two reasons. First, Romney has touted his ability as the sole GOP candidate with the capacity to play in every state…

The shift is all the more remarkable considering just how much Romney has invested in South Carolina. Romney deployed his first staffer to the state in June 2006 and has been on the air here since Labor Day.

The idea is that Mitt would go to Nevada and try to get an easy win there but that only puts off what Geraghty said yesterday about needing a big win in a close race. Presumably that now becomes Florida, which plays into Rudy’s hands if Huckabee knocks out McCain in South Carolina and then has to contend with Mitt for social cons in his showdown with Giuliani. If instead McCain knocks Huck out in SC — and it sounds from this WaPo piece like Huck might indeed be out if he loses — then I’m not sure who benefits from Romney staying in. Probably Rudy again since McCain would enter the state as frontrunner and draw the bulk of Mitt’s fire as he positions himself as the anti-RINO. Meanwhile, don’t be too dazzled by Mitt’s money take yesterday. It’s impressive but not as much as at first glance.

As for yesterday’s HA poll, here you go. McCain was out big early but Huckabee came back late. I’m suspicious that some pro-Huck site heard of it and spammed it but I can’t find a trail on Technorati so I guess we’ll assume it’s legit. Mind if I ask the people who prefer Huck to McCain to explain their reasoning? He’s as bad as McCain on all the issues McCain is bad on (immigration) and not nearly as good as the issues McCain is good on. Voting for Maverick would be tough; voting for him instead of Huckabee really shouldn’t be.

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