Posted at 2:55 PM on December 28, 2007
by Jeff Horwich
The other day, as Hillary-Obama mania resumed after the holiday, it occurred to me that the hoard of also-rans, who usually get at least a token nod in the news, seem to have disappeared right along with the egg-nog and mistletoe.
This is always a sad political moment. Count me among the among the annoyed Americans who hate it that front-runners are somehow annointed before a single vote is cast.
Did they all drop out? Of course not (well, one did). Granted, most of them are about to bite the dust, but I got hungry for a bit of an update.
Chris Dodd: Still going. And expecting "victory in Iowa," according to his campaign web site. Campaign blog describes his Iowa HQ as "bustling." Apparently he got pulled on MSNBC to talk about Benezir Bhutto, which of course demonstrates he is still very much in this thing.
Tom Tancredo: Gone, dropping out with a "heart full of gratitude and a touch of sadness." Celebrating how his presence as an anti-immigrant "zealot" (Newsweek's term, which he quotes) shaped the race. Tom is reportedly taking a week off in Mexico to recuperate. (Not true.)
Mike Gravel: Still in it. Sort of. Gravel seemed to disappear well before the holidays, getting cast as the crazy guy on SNL and excluded from debates for no better reason than people seem to forget he exists (it's pronounced "gra-VEL"). Looks like he's focusing his efforts on crossing New Hampshire in an RV. (Wouldn't you love to be in Iowa to see who winds up in the "Gravel" caucus corner? Someone buy that guy a beer!)
Alan Keyes: Really? OK, then, knock yourself out. According to the Washington Post, he's raised $21,000,which is not really even enough to purchase a seat on Mike Gravel's RV. Maybe Keyes and Gravel should start holding their own debates.
Joe Biden: Experienced. Respected. Eloquent. But I think Americans just can't bring themselves to vote for a man with hair plugs. (Note how this TV ad never shows the top of his head...) Gunning for third in Iowa, probably pinning his hopes on the same rural areas as John Edwards.
John Edwards: Proves that having too much great hair can be equally dangerous. Edwards seems to be straddling the top and bottom tiers, and you know how uncomfortable that can be. Might not belong on this list; if Hillary and Obama stumble, he may be the go-to guy. The Newsweek cover story on him laid out his predicament (and potential) nicely.
Fred Thompson: Still truckin', and on many "front-runner" lists, but feels like a flame-out from here in the peanut gallery. (And just when I was getting my impression down, too.) Future campaigns will learn important lessons from this one -- that in fact anticipation about an outside candidate does not keep mounting indefinitely. Hope the red truck has enough gas to get back to Tennessee.
Duncan Hunter: Duncan Hoo-whaa? His web site features a countdown to the Iowa caucuses, maybe because that's how long it is until he gets to take a break. This is a name I have almost never heard in news coverage about the Republican race. I'm ashamed to say I had to actually find a list of candidates online to see who I had missed...and...ladies and gentleman, Rep. Duncan Hunter.
Bill Richardson: A real mystery. You'd think that with a good head of hair, he'd be able to escape Joe Biden's fate and get some respect. But evidently there's just no spark there. And doggone it, he's just a dead-ringer for Horatio Sanz. Watch this video from his campaign site. Gotta be honest, I couldn't write a better 1:30 of campaign blah-blah-blah if I had to make it up.
Ron Paul: Might be an also-ran, but he's busy putting himself on the map right at the moment. Certainly is bringing in the money for someone so obscure. Unlike the rest of the folks here, Paul's momentum arrow points decidedly up. (And this picture makes him look like Gandalf.)
Kucinich: Likewise (not the Gandalf part). The guy loses big, but seems to gain acolytes. And in recent months, the country has become more acquainted with his hot wife and has begun to see him in a new way. Maybe if he and Ron Paul formed a joint ticket...
(And yes, I did seek out the goofiest photos I could find of all these guys on short notice. All photos via Getty/AFP.)