My little pep talks, for all the candidates…
For all the Republicans…
Mike Huckabee: Congratulations, this ranks as one of the all time stratospheric rises in American politics. Now the aim is to not be a Roman Candle, burning brightly and rising rapidly but fizzling out quickly. Enjoy victory tonight, because you’ve been given a gold medal with a bulls-eye on it. Everybody’s going to be gunning for you now. You think the press was intrusive and hostile before? That was nothing. And you’ve got to build a national organization, on the fly, while trying to do something in Michigan and South Carolina. How much of a turnout operation do you have in Florida? How many folks do you have in the Super Duper Tuesday states? Can you go toe-to-toe with Rudy that day — yeah, Rudy — if he wins the winner-take-all, delegate-rich states of New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut?
You’re going to get a nice infusion of cash, and you’ve got some great retail skills. But you can’t give each vital state as much personal attention when the races start piling up fast. Welcome to the big leagues, now show us your stuff.
Mitt Romney: Well… that stunk. No other way to put it. You’re going to hear “outspent 20 to 1″ a lot in the next couple days. But it is what is it is, no point in dwelling on it, and really, no time to, either. Go to Wyoming. Push hard in that state, just to get a win under your belt on Saturday. You can tell yourself that it’s all because Iowa’s caucus is a small, quirky, and perhaps even anti-Mormon pool of voters. Then go to New Hampshire and speak from the heart for three straight days. Let the voters see how you are, speak from the gut, be blunt. Don’t be afraid to alienate people. Republicans seem to think you’re inauthentic; throw caution to the wind and either rise or fall on exactly who you are.
John McCain: Life can be pretty sweet for a guy who denounces ethanol subsidies in the heart of corn country. Iowa broke the right way for you, and you’re set for a rerun of 2000 in New Hampshire, with Mitt Romney playing the role of George W. Bush. Just reassure conservatives that you won’t take one more step to the center to win over all those independents in New Hampshire and Michigan. (Obama winning may attract some of those folks.) I’d be wary of getting too negative, no matter how tempting it may be — you may be facing the task of unifying the party sooner than you think.
Fred Thompson: You’re alive, although tonight could have, and should have, gone a lot better for you. Stick around. Romney just played javelin receiver, Rudy and Huckabee will split the party, and a lot of conservatives aren’t sure if they trust McCain. Keep doin’ what you’re doin’, push hard in every state as you pushed in Iowa, and you may end up being the guy who has to save the party from the historic error represented by… one of the other guys.
Ron Paul: Okay, I admit, I didn’t see you getting 10 percent (with 85 percent reporting). Congratulations. I’d like to see you start viewing yourself as a Goldwater figure, whose true mission is to build a movement that will outlast his candidacy, and whose impact will be felt a generation from now, but I don’t think you’ll do that. Good luck, New Hampshire should be even more fertile territory.
Duncan Hunter: Congressman, you were really due to leave with Tancredo.
Rudy Giuliani: Congratulations, you made the right choice to skip this state. You never would have sold in this voter pool.
Barack Obama: Wow. We’ve seen a lot of candidates come along and say they’re going to energize the youth vote, that they’re going to energize people who have fallen away from the political process. We hear this every cycle, and every cycle the youth stay home and turnout barely budges. But you look like you might just do it. Just brace yourself, because Hillary is going to go negative on you, in a way that the Clinton machine has never gone negative before. Wear two cups.
John Edwards: It was a nice ride. You beat Hillary, and that’s a real feather in your cap. But you won’t be able to give every state the attention you gave Iowa. Tonight may turn out to be your campaign’s shining moment, so enjoy it, and pledge that if you’re going to go down, you’re going to go down swinging.
Hillary Clinton: Hmm. At this hour, with 97 percent of the precincts reporting, 71 percent of Iowa Democratic caucusgoers voted against Hillary.
Wow, senator, you’re really unlikeable.
Chris Dodd: You are the weakest link. Goodbye.