Monday, January 19, 2004

Surprising development out of Iowa as Dennis Kucinich and John Edwards have reportedly struck a deal to support whichever of them gets closer to the 15% support threshold - the minimum required to receive delegates in the ridiculously complicated caucus system. (In simple terms: 14.9% or less = ZERO delegates, better make a deal!) Both are being very specific in saying they are not endorsing each other and that this move is strictly about the Iowa caucuses. Neither of their web sites mentions the deal at all.

Even the most diehard Kucinich supporter has to realize this means he's backing the surging Edwards in Iowa (over Dean, Kerry or Gephardt) as the chances of him coming close to 15% and getting Edwards supporters to push him over the top is highly unlikely at this point. Dean may have stalled but he hasn't completely blown his engine just yet (lamely trotting out the awkward wife notwithstanding). The odd thing is that, politically speaking, other than Lieberman, Edwards is probably the candidate furthest to the right of Kucinich. I totally understand his not backing Dean, and don't blame him in the least, but certainly would have expected Kerry or even Gephardt before Edwards.

The only thing I can figure is that DK's taking a huge strategic gamble by supporting the guy least like him in the hopes of pushing Edwards into 2nd place ahead of Dean and kneecapping the Doctor's already slowing momentum headed into New Hampshire. The goal? That some of the progressives that are backing Dean purely on his presumed electability will realize he's not the inevitable one and swing back to voting their conscience - aka Kucinich - in the later primaries. Any potential backlash from it could be parried by the fact that Edwards is an inexperienced politician and Kucinich is hoping to gain his ear and influence some of his more centrist positions.

One thing's for sure: Kucinich is getting more media attention today than he has throughout the entire campaign.

Politics makes for strange bedfellows, indeed.

My early predictions:

IOWA: Kerry, Edwards, Dean, Gephardt.
NEW HAMPSHIRE: Kerry, Clark, Dean, Edwards

Gephardt and Lieberman throw in the towel no later than February 4th. Sharpton surprises a lot of people in the Southern primaries with strong 3rd place finishes and supplants Jesse Jackson as the media-appointed political voice of black America. No one gets enough delegates to snag the nomination before the convention and Kerry and Edwards strike a deal, receving Sharpton's blessing and the gridlock is broken. The next day, citing health concerns, Dick Cheney announces he will not be on the ticket with Bush, maybe even taking some of the flak for the Iraq debacle, and Rudy Giuliani is announced as his replacement at the Republican New York City. The mother of all reality shows kicks off with the ugliest, most divisive election campaign in US history and the ultimate winner will have a lot of cleaning up to do.

Stay tuned.

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