Best in show

By STEVEN STARK  |  May 30, 2007

Mike Huckabee
Odds: 200-1.

Huckabee was beginning to show voters that he’s the class candidate of the second tier, but Thompson’s entry will end any chances of moving up. Unless he’s the star Tuesday night, his candidacy, sadly, isn’t going anywhere.

Sam Brownback
Odds: 1000-1.
He was finished even before a Thompson entry.

Tommy Thompson
Odds: 10,000-1.

The wrong Thompson.

Duncan Hunter
Odds: 20,000-1.
Another one who was finished before Thompson’s entry, even though he’s been okay in debates.

James Gilmore
Odds: 40,000-1.

Forget it.

Tom Tancredo
Odds: 75,000-1.
Immigration was supposed to be his issue. It isn’t.

Ron Paul
Odds: 500,000-1.

The other candidates want him in the debates for the softballs he throws, which they can hit out of the park.

Democrats
Barack Obama
Odds: 4-3.
Obama needs to do well in Sunday’s debate, because his campaign is floundering slightly. When you’re a rookie, you make mistakes, and in this year’s intensely covered race, everyone hears about them instantly. Over the past few weeks, Obama has given the partial impression that he’s not up to speed on the role of commander in chief, offering a halting answer in the last debate about how he’d respond to a terrorist attack and then misspelling “flak” jacket in a release attacking John McCain. He’s hardly Mike Dukakis riding around in a tank yet, but a few more mistakes of that ilk and he could be headed in that direction.

Hillary Clinton
Odds: 3-2.
The Clinton machine isn’t flashy, and the candidate’s negatives are sky high in the polls — including in Iowa. But she’s made fewer mistakes than her rivals have so far. Her main goal Sunday (which will be easier said than done) will be to make sure Obama and Edwards don’t do as well as she does. A little warmth and humor wouldn’t hurt. She faces a rough summer with the publication of two new biographies that, according to early press reports, will remind voters of all the baggage a Clinton II administration would bring to the White House.

John Edwards
Odds: 8-1.

Edwards, too, needs a strong debate showing Sunday; his campaign has been struggling in the wake of the $400 haircut, the $50,000 speaking fee for a talk on poverty, and the fact that he’s no longer the Dems’ only anti-war choice now that Clinton and Obama recently voted against war funding. He still leads in Iowa, however, and one new poll shows him up in Florida. So if he can get his campaign back on track, he has a chance to move up again. It will be interesting to see how Edwards will position himself to the left of the others on the war and other issues on Sunday, which is essential to his campaign.

Bill Richardson
Odds: 20-1.

Richardson is a candidate with momentum, as he hovers between the first and second tier. His first debate showing was a bit of a disaster, so if in the next one he can challenge the front-runners directly on some issues and show the humor he’s displayed in his ads, he’ll be fine. The immigration issue should help Richardson and could give him a way to mobilize support in the Hispanic community.

Joe Biden
Odds: 75-1.

Biden isn’t going to win the nomination, but his performance Sunday night will be worth watching. Alone among the Democrats, he supported the congressional war-funding bill, so he has a chance, if nothing else, to distinguish himself from the field.

Chris Dodd
Odds: 150-1.
A good, articulate guy, but it’s not going to happen.

Dennis Kucinich
Odds: 25,000-1.

Yesterday’s news.

Mike Gravel
Odds: one million to 1.
Last century’s news.

On the Web
The Presidential Tote Board: http://www.thephoenix.com/toteboard

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