When a frustrated John McCain threw in the above declaration, he took a desperate political position and made it unredeemable. It was an afterthought, but one which telegraphed a confirming message to the Republican electorate: The Senate bill’s sponsors aren’t serious about the border fence or border security.
There’s a lot of room between Tom Tancredo’s increasingly erratic and extreme positions and Senator McCain’s indifference to the base. Both Mayor Giuliani and Governor Romney occupy that space, and it is where the party outside of Washington, D.C. is and will remain.
It is increasingly clear that the race is a Rudy-Mitt-Fred race, and that no one in the second tier is going to break through with Senator Thompson’s entry into the contest. The often lame questions tonight and the time wasted on Ron Paul, Jim Gilmore, Tom Tancredo etc eat up the opportunity that a Huckabee or Brownback might have used to establish themselves. Senator McCain may chose to fight on, but his numbers and his fund raising must be near total collapse, and nothing changed that tonight. The sooner he and the other candidates make a graceful exit, the greater the service they’ll be doing the party.
The good news is that both Romney and Giuliani looked and sounded great tonight and are going to prove to be formidable candidates throughout the summer and fall and into ’08. The party is in excellent shape with either of them, and Fred may make that three.