Romney wins in Michigan. So what does that mean? That is the subject of this evening's "Talking Points Memo."
Congratulations to the governor. He seized upon the shaky economy and drove home his successful business resume. So Mitt Romney is now back in business.
Right now four Republicans have a shot at the presidential nomination: Romney, McCain, Huckabee and Giuliani. If there's a terror incident tomorrow, Giuliani rockets. McCain has some momentum, and Huckabee is expected to do well in South Carolina.
But unlike past campaigns, Super Tuesday on February 5 is the ballgame. All four contenders will stay in until then. If Fred Thompson doesn't surge in South Carolina, he's out. And his supporters should go to Romney or Huckabee. So there's a variable.
Now some believe that the Republican nomination will not be decided until a convention in Minneapolis in the beginning of September. Certainly that is possible. That's because for the first time in memory, there's no establishment candidate. Social conservatives prefer Huckabee. Economic conservatives like Romney. And moderate Republicans support McCain or Giuliani. So the Republican machine is inactive right now. No candidate has emerged as the GOP god.
It's different on the Democratic side, where the machine is behind Hillary Clinton. But Barack Obama continues to wage a very effective campaign. And right now most polls show him leading in both South Carolina and Nevada.
If I had to bet, I'd take the Patriots over the Chargers and Hillary over Obama. But — and remember I said this — I now think Senator Obama will be the vice presidential nominee if he doesn't win outright. Write that down.
As Clair Ball from Santa Rosa, California, emailed, Romney's not the only comeback kid last evening. Your humble correspondent is as well. After losing a dinner to Dick Morris over the Iowa vote, I bet Morris last night and now the dinners are equal. Thank God for that.
Summing up, very entertaining, very different presidential race this year, where daily events are influencing the voters. If the stock market wasn't getting hammered, John McCain might well have prevailed in Michigan. If there's another terror attack, Rudy Giuliani is revived. So anything could happen. And we like it that way.
And that's "The Memo."
Pinheads & Patriots
Unfortunately Johnny Depp's 8-year-old girl was poisoned by E. coli. She received excellent treatment, however, in a British hospital, and the situation has stabilized.
As a thank you, Mr. Depp entertained some of the kids in the hospital and donated $2 million to the facility. For that, Johnny Depp is a patriot.
On the pinhead front, you may be aware that the San Francisco Chronicle paid Sean Penn to write articles about Iran, if you can believe it. In gratitude, Penn is now calling that newspaper "increasingly lame-brained." Not because they published him, but because they called Hugo Chavez a dictator. Penn didn't like that, because he's a pinhead.