THE NOTE: Regional Managing

Mitt gets to bring his millions (at least some of them).

Huck gets to bring Chuck (and Ed Rollins).

Fred gets to bring his pride (and he may have helping hunting around for it).

Rudy gets to play snowbird (dressed as tax-cutting stork).

John McCain gets to fight his demons.

John Edwards gets to go home.

Bill Richardson opts to stay home.

Barack Obama gets a lift from new union friends.

But Hillary Clinton gets to drive (and ask Karl Rove for directions).

The race for 2008 is now a regional affair -- a series of mini-primaries, with different entrants who each have different goals. The most important people in campaigns and news organizations are the delegate trackers; yes, Feb. 5 is big and all, but numbers will count in the end.

If New Hampshire did nothing else, it allows its winners to define the terms of the race: the Democratic race is now being fought according to Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's, D-N.Y., wishes, just as the Republican race is tipping in the direction that Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., wants it to.

No one has higher stakes in the coming week than former governor Mitt Romney, R-Mass., with two dull silvers to show for the first week of voting -- and the state of his birth holding his only real shot at advancing.

This is not where the Romney campaign thought it would be, back when he was the deep-pocketed frontrunner in his "kindling" states of Iowa and New Hampshire. Now he's the (maybe slightly less) deep-pocketed loser of both Iowa and New Hampshire, and Michigan holds its last realistic hope of getting him back in contention.

One statement on Romney's prospects: He has pulled his advertising out of South Carolina and Florida (wonder if the five brothers are secretly happy about the boost to their kids' trust funds). It's a Mitts-off push to take Michigan, which votes Jan. 15. (Budget cuts for the self-funded multi-millionaire -- can you just see the smile on McCain's face?)

"The decision to focus its advertisements on Michigan suggested that the Romney campaign is making tough decisions about where to spend its money, despite Mr. Romney's ability to reach into his own pockets," Marc Santora and Adam Nagourney write in The New York Times.

"Mr. McCain, whose campaign until now has operated by necessity as a wide open but low-cost insurgency, adopted a carefully choreographed series of rallies as it scrambled to gather the money and the organization it needs to take advantage of his victory in New Hampshire on Tuesday."

Writes The Boston Globe's Michael Levenson: "Both men are chasing history, with McCain trying to reprise his victory in the 2000 Michigan primary and Romney his father's success as a three-term governor." Romney even dropped his optimism long enough to utter the R-word: "I've watched with concern as I've watched Michigan go through a one-state recession," the former Massachusetts governor said, standing on a chair and yelling without a microphone.

"For me, it's personal," Romney said Wednesday in Michigan. His campaign can call this a battle for delegates (and it is), but the point is that it wasn't supposed to be this way for Romney. "Romney's losses to Mike Huckabee in the Iowa caucuses and John McCain in the New Hampshire primary have wrecked his campaign strategy," Michael Finnegan writes in the Los Angeles Times.

Join the Discussion
blog comments powered by Disqus
You Might Also Like...