What now? Like Geraghty says, maybe Mitt goes to Virginia next Tuesday to take one last stab at stealing a big winner-take-all state, but the Annapolis factor for McCain and the evangelical presence for Huck make it a tough get. After that there are no significant delegate opportunities until March 4, when Romney has to deal with Huck’s southern mojo again in Texas. Is he in it for another month just to nail down another 35-35-30 delegate split? I’m skeptical. The more you think about it, the clearer it is that it was Huck’s wins yesterday in the south, not Maverick’s walkovers in the big blues, that really killed Mitt by denying him any chance of a “conservative vs. RINO” two-man race. As long as he’s got still got bank, Huck goes forward and Mitt probably goes nowhere.
So let’s say he does drop out, leaving us with the race we’ve all dreamed of. McCain won’t want his victory tour sidetracked with surprise losses to Huckabee, especially in red states while he’s busy trying to convince the base he’s a real conservative. Isn’t he basically forced to offer Huck the VP slot — the one he couldn’t turn down, by his own admission — to get him out? Or are we actually staring down the barrel of a RINO vs. RINO mindfark where the blogosphere swings grudgingly behind McCain to stop the greater of two evils?
If that doesn’t leave you depressed enough, enjoy Frum this morning.
Update: If the other candidates disliked him before, wait until he makes this move.
As an example of the Romney campaign’s hurriedly revised calculations, aides had begun discussing an unlikely strategy that relies on delegates who are pledged to other candidates but who are not technically bound to them. Under that plan, the advisers envision that conservative fears continue to work against Mr. McCain, buying time and fueling a series of big victories for Mr. Romney. That would place him at a point where he has enough momentum to wrest some of the promised but not bound delegates into his column at a contested convention.