Today, the one man who can do that is Romney. If Romney wins Iowa, not only would that break Huckabee's momentum, but Romney would likely surge to victory in New Hampshire, five days later, where he leads, and in Michigan, a week after, where his father was governor and Romney is a famous name. Comes then South Carolina. If Mitt is 3-0 going into South Carolina and everyone else is 0 for 3, it is hard to see who beats him there.
If Romney loses Iowa, however, he has to win New Hampshire or he is done. But if Huckabee wins Iowa, he need not win New Hampshire for he has already moved into the lead in South Carolina.
The question for the other Republicans is the same: Where do you win? And if you don't win early, do you have the resources to go on?
John McCain, the candidate of the Union-Leader, either wins New Hampshire or goes home. For he is going to be humiliated in Iowa if he does not drop out. And if he cannot win the Granite State, his strongest in 2000, how does he raise the money to carry on, and where does he win?
Fred Thompson appears to have little chance to win any of the first three. He is banking on holding on until South Carolina, despite a probable three straight losses before then and no publicity to rival what Huckabee and Romney are getting right now. Fred may not make it to South Carolina.
Which brings us to Rudy, the front-runner. His hope: That Huckabee wins Iowa, McCain wins New Hampshire, Romney wins Michigan, and Thompson or McCain wins South Carolina. Then, after four defeats, he comes roaring back in Florida, grabs the headlines going into Feb. 5, when half the primaries are held, and marches forward to the nomination.
Whoever thought up this strategy is the kind of guy who plays Russian roulette with four bullets in the chamber. The peril of the Rudy strategy is if a Romney, a Huckabee or a McCain wins in New Hampshire and South Carolina and catches a fire no attack ad can put out. Already, Rudy's national lead is vanishing. How he maintains it through December and four straight January losses is, as they say, problematic.