Analysis: How McCain Could Still Win

Political watchers say McCain is down, but a comeback is still within reach.

ByABC News
December 10, 2007, 7:15 AM

Dec. 10, 2007 — -- A year ago, he was the odds-on favorite to be the Republican presidential nominee in 2008. Today, he's considered a long shot.

His campaign has rebounded from a near implosion in the summer, but in these crucial weeks before the first balloting in January in Iowa, John McCain has been eclipsed by the emergence of former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee as a serious contender, the Mitt Romney religion speech and recent Romney-Rudy Giuliani verbal fracas.

Yet political analysts say do not count the Arizona senator out yet.

"The reality is, as it's been for many, many months is that the [Republican] candidates all have weaknesses and at the end of the day John McCain is hoping that Republican voters take a deep breath, reassess the candidate and say it's not about a specific position on immigration or campaign finance reform, it's about strength and leadership and toughness in standing up in the war against terror," said Stuart Rothenberg of the Rothenberg Political Report.

"If that's how Republicans decide, they may come back to him and decide 'Well, I rejected him six months ago, but he looks like the best of the lot now.'"

It will not be easy for McCain to pull off, but there are scenarios for McCain a "perfect storm" of events breaking his way, according to some pundits in which he could still wrest the GOP nomination away from his rivals.

One of them goes something like this:

Huckabee wins the Iowa caucus Jan. 3 and Romney finishes second. McCain is running far behind in Iowa and barely campaigning there.

A Romney win could propel him to victory in New Hampshire where he now leads McCain in the polls, so, for McCain, it is critical that Romney be stopped in Iowa. A Huckabee win in Iowa would be a huge setback for Romney, who has invested time and money lots of money into winning there followed by New Hampshire for an early one-two punch that would ignite his campaign.

Meanwhile, McCain has been concentrating instead on New Hampshire, which holds the first primary five days after Iowa.