Bloggers are analyzing what John McCain's Florida primary means for more conservative Republicans and bidding adieu to John Edwards.
The McCain pile-on: John McCain scored an important victory in the Florida primary Tuesday night, taking 36 percent of the vote to Mitt Romney's 31 percent. The reaction in the blogosphere is a reminder that McCain still faces plenty of conservative opposition.
Freedom Eden is unimpressed by the Arizona senator. "McCain didn't just run a more negative campaign against Romney. He ran a dishonest campaign. That should bother voters. … Clearly, McCain is trying to make nice now. I'm having a little trouble handling his mood swings," she writes. "I don't know what to expect from him. Will it be the growling, angry, spiteful McCain, or the smiling, 'My friends' McCain? I'm not ready to declare McCain the nominee. It appears to be inevitable. I'm just not ready." Romney supporter Hugh Hewitt does the math to show Romney fans that "[i]t isn't pretty, but it is far, far from over. " And while Rudy Giuliani might be dropping out and endorsing McCain, Giuliani supporter and Hewitt contributor Patrick Ruffini is turning toward Romney: "He didn't wind up running a great race, but Rudy Giuliani is a great American, and I continue to believe he would have made a great President. … I have no qualms about supporting his fellow chief executive Mitt Romney for the Republican nomination. Despite the outcome in Florida, Republicans across the nation should spend the next week thinking long and hard about the demoralizing prospect of a McCain nomination."
Journlalist and media critic Robert Stein at Connect the Dots predicts that, unless Romney makes a miraculous turnaround, McCain's primary victory will be bad news for right-wing talking heads. "Unless Romney's money and vacuity win many hearts and minds on February 5th, the arch-conservatives will have to take a deep breath and embrace McCain as the Republican candidate," Stein writes. "Wheel out the respirators for Rush Limbaugh and Pat Buchanan."
Liberal Kevin Drum, who writes Washington Monthly's Political Animal, offers his backhanded congratulations to Republican voters. "I want to congratulate the rank-and-file voters of the Republican Party for their performance so far," Drum writes. "Giuliani is a creepy one-note screwball; Huckabee is ignorant and proud of it; Thompson was a coma-inducing joke; and Tancredo, Hunter, and Paul were just vanity candidates. The two who are left, McCain and Romney, are by far the least offensive of the whole field. So: congratulations GOP. Considering what you had to work with, not a bad effort."
Eric Earling at Sound Politics, a mostly Washington state-focused blog, suggests that McCain, as the ordained front-runner, still has significant opposition within his party to overcome. "McCain and his campaign actually have to get their arms around the idea of being a unifying party leader," Earling writes. "Much of the conservative establishment has rallied to Romney in the last several weeks (and opposed McCain so vigorously in 2000) because he doesn't exactly have a history of being that inclusive party leader, to put things mildly. McCain's campaign would do well to ditch his condescension toward Romney. … Continuing such personal animus will only further lay open the very wounds with conservatives that McCain needs to heal."
Across the aisle, many liberal bloggers sympathetic to Barack Obama are not pleased with Hillary Clinton's declaration of victory in Florida, where Democrats agreed not to campaign because the state held its primary too early."What do you think she'd be saying -- what do you think her husband would be saying -- if Obama were trying to pull a stunt like this?" asks the Reaction's Michael J.W. Stickings. "I was sympathetic to Clinton after Iowa, pulling for her to win New Hampshire, if only to keep the race competitive, but the events in South Carolina and now Florida are turning me against her -- perhaps for good." Huffington Post's Joseph Palermo piles on the scorn: "This move on Senator Clinton's part is the most weasel-like posture she's taken this entire campaign."
So long, John: John Edwards dropped out of the Democratic race Wednesday, prompting speculation about whether Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton will benefit from his absence and guesses as to who he will endorse, if anyone.
"Those who supported him are now faced with some choices," writes the anonymous Polimom. "Interestingly, the vast majority of attacks from the radical left merely enhance my view of Barack Obama." Other supporters simply offer their eulogies. "I continue to believe that our nation needs John Edwards at this time, and I am profoundly sad that we will not have him," writes Melissa McEwan on Shakesville. "I believed in him; I believed in his message; and I hope that he will … find a role for himself as the vital and vibrant leader he is and can be, in the mold of Al Gore. And I hope we will assess why our two finest statesmen cannot find their way to the White House, and realize how bereft of genuine, tangible, spirit-lifting change we will be without them."