There are still ten months to go until the US presidential election in November, but the field of potential candidates is narrowing fast.
After the Republican Primary in Florida earlier this week two further candidates of the GOP (the "Grand Old Party", as the Republicans tend to call themselves) decided to quit. They were former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani and former Tennessee Senator Fred Thompson. Both had been beaten by the Florida voters decisively and decided they would not spend any more money on a contest they cannot win.
This gives now Senator John McCain of Arizona, a former naval officer, war hero and POW in North Vietnam, the chance to secure a nomination even before the national convention. Clearly the front runner now (as I predicted already three weeks ago), McCain has impressed many with his sincerity and independence, as he is one of very few Republicans who had the guts to stand up against the current administration with critical remarks - and get away with it. However, the question is if after eight years of blunder and ignorance from Bush and his cronies the American people want another Republican in the White House.
More likely is that they are yearning for a major change, and looking for the delivery of that to the Democratic party, where the race has now come down to a head- to-head contest between two junior Senators: Hillary Clinton from New York and Barack Obama from Illinois.
After the Democratic Primary in Florida, which will not have any influence on the selection, as their delegates have been banned over a row with the national leadership, former Senator John Edwards, running mate of John Kerry in 2004, dropped out of the race, after New Mexico's governor Bill Richardson, a former Energy Secretary under Bill Clinton, had quit already earlier.
This leaves now only the two front runners Clinton and Obama standing. So if the Democrats - as expected by many - will win the election, they will also make history, with putting either the first woman or the first coloured man into the White House.
On the Republican side the only man who could still hamper McCain's further progress is former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, who is still polling quite strongly and came second in both South Carolina and Florida. Since he has accumulated quite a large fighting fund, he might still hang on for a while longer. But the question is: Would American voters be happy to send a Mormon into the White House...? It is not impossible, but quite doubtful.
Most likely "Super Tuesday" - this year held on February 5th - will clear the field even more. In 24 states all over the USA primaries and caucuses of both major parties will bring the decision a good bit closer to a nomination. Should Romney do badly in this massive test, he will fall by the wayside and leave the road open for McCain.
In the Democratic Party the contest will go right to the wire, as neither of the two remaining front runners is likely to quit at any time before the nomination convention. It will not have an easy task, and the selection of the running mate will be as crucial as the name of the main candidate itself. In this regard John Edwards should have a good change to be selected as vice-presidential candidate again. An Obama/Edwards ticket could have a real chance to win the elections and set the USA on a new course of reform, repair and repentance.
The Emerald Islander