The Battle for 3rd In Iowa

Matt Lewis
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Posted: Dec 29, 2007 6:34 PM
In the movie, Talladega Nights, Ricky Bobby's daddy famously said, "If you ain't first, you're last." That maxim certainly doesn't hold true this year in politics (or in football, for that matter).

In fact, almost as exciting as the battle for first-place in Iowa is the battle for third.  Here's why:

We can almost presume that Romney and Huckabee will finish in one of the top two spots.  As such, the third-place spot -- the wild card -- becomes very, very important. 

Should John McCain, a candidate who famously opposes Ethanol subsidies -- and didn't even campaign in Iowa in 2000 -- come in second, it would give him a boost heading into New Hampshire.  This would be especially important if Huckabee were to win Iowa.  McCain would benefit greatly by coming in third in Iowa.

Of course, Fred Thompson is also campaigning hard in Iowa, and has essentially moved there (and his FredHeads are joining him).  A third-place finish keeps Fred in the game.  To put it in context, Fred Thompson needs a third-place finish on Thursday almost as much as the Redskins need a win tomorrow.  His entire season is on the line.  He needs this "wild card berth."

Lastly, don't count out Rudy Giuliani.  Operatives from several competing campaigns tell me he is campaigning much harder in Iowa than he is letting on.  Rudy can't afford to finish fifth or sixth in Iowa.  He won't win Iowa, but to remain relevant until February 5, he  can't afford to be a joke, either ...