Well, I hope that you are ready for the long haul. A week ago, it appeared that Mitt Romney might be on his way to coasting to an early finish and wrap up the GOP nomination for president. But a funny thing happened on the way to the White House. After a vote recount, Rick Santorum was belatedly declared the winner of the Iowa caucuses, and Newt Gingrich turned America's pent up anger at what they perceive to be a biased and elitist news media into shear smackdown.
Now the field narrowed by two candidates who bowed out in the middle of the South Carolina primary. Newt scored a stunning landslide victory and the leader in this election has changed more times than a Kim Kardashian boyfriend.
But things are far from over. It takes 1144 delegates to win the nomination. And no one has more than 33 committed delegates so far. Now there are gonna be calls for one or more of the candidates to "bow out and clear the path." Well, I heard it four years ago, my response now is the same as then -- shut up.
The decision to drop out of a race is a very tough one. If a candidate is out of money and has to start borrowing to continue, then that's a good reason to quit. If one's own family, friends, and supporters start urging it, then that's a good reason to consider draining the tub and getting out of the hot water. But it is ludicrous for supporters of one candidate to try and make campaign decisions for another candidate. A person who has the guts to run has put his or her whole life into this. It's working the high wire without a net. It's like stepping into an arena in which there are no prizes for second place, in which the blood of all including the ultimate victor is gonna be spilled, and in which everyone will leave with lasting scars.
A person who has come this far, entered on his own terms should only call it quits when the results or his own heart tells him to. As we have clearly seen this week, one week can make a huge difference. It has and it can again. Now there is only one sure way for a candidate to absolutely know the outcome and that is to quit. I still viscerally react when I remember the pundits, the politicians, and the patricians of the party who urged me to step aside four years ago, so I could make it easier for John McCain. That only made me more determined. Look, I can accept losing, that's part of life. But I couldn't accept quitting. It is just not in my DNA.
Politics certainly ought to be civil, but it will never be polite. One doesn't win by holding the door open for an opponent. Now of the four remaining candidates, three will not make it to the finish line. But I hope that they will leave having given it their all in the pursuit, not because they decided to quit.