What cracks me up is that it is only Guiliani who has not come close in any of the early primaries. What a mess the Republican party is in. And I love every minute of it...
Senator John McCain staved off a spirited challenge by Mike Huckabee to win the South Carolina primary on Saturday, exorcising the ghosts of the attack-filled primary here that derailed his presidential hopes eight years ago.LINK: McCain Has Big Win in South Carolina; Huckabee Falls Short
Mr. McCain’s victory here, on top of his win earlier this month in New Hampshire, capped a remarkable comeback for a campaign that was all but written off six months ago. In an unusually fluid Republican field, his aides said they hoped the victory would give Mr. McCain a head of steam going into the Jan. 29 Florida primary and the nationwide series of nominating contests on Feb. 5.
“It took us a while, but what’s eight years among friends?” Mr. McCain said at a boisterous victory celebration that broke out into shouts of “Mac is back! Mac is back!”
Mr. McCain did best among voters who said experience was the most important quality in a candidate, among those who said the Iraq war and terrorism were their top concerns and among the state’s veterans, who made up a quarter of the vote. He ran about even with Mr. Huckabee, who pressed a populist message here, among the many voters who said their top concern in the election was the economy. He also continued to draw strong support from independents.
Mr. Huckabee’s loss in a Southern state with a strong turnout of religious voters was a setback to his campaign as it heads toward potentially less hospitable states.
Nearly 60 percent of the voters in South Carolina identified themselves in exit polls as evangelical Christians, a group that was heavily courted by Mr. Huckabee, a former Arkansas governor and Baptist preacher. While Mr. Huckabee captured 4 in 10 of their votes, Mr. McCain also made inroads with the group, capturing more than a quarter of their vote.
The South Carolina primary has accurately predicted the Republican presidential nominee since 1980, and since 1988 it has often played a decisive role. The McCain campaign sought to highlight that history here this week, but he is still left facing a scrambled field of opponents, including Mitt Romney, whose lopsided victory in the lightly contested Nevada caucuses Saturday gave him his second win in a week. He defeated Mr. McCain in the Michigan primary on Tuesday.
In his concession speech, Mr. Huckabee praised Mr. McCain for running “a civil and a good and a decent campaign” and vowed to battle on.
“The reason that I want to encourage you tonight is to remind you that politics — and particularly this year, more than perhaps any other — this is not an event,” he said. “It is a process. And the process is far, far from over.”
With 94 percent of the electoral precincts reporting, Mr. McCain had 33 percent of the vote, Mr. Huckabee 30 percent, Fred D. Thompson 16 percent, and Mr. Romney 15 percent.
The distant third-place finish was a severe blow to the candidacy of Mr. Thompson, an actor and former Tennessee Senator. He had been counting on a strong showing in a Southern state to revive his fortunes, and gave a rambling speech in which he urged his followers to “stand strong.”
We will see how the Democrats fair next week.