Are we down to a two-person Republican race?

It looks as though we are going through a version of political "Survivor" — and a lot of folks are getting voted off the island.

Republican voters have given the thumbs-down to Michele Bachmann, after a quick blip in the summer; Rick Perry cratered after his debate performances; Jon Huntsman was always too moderate and too reasonable for this crop of Republicans; poor Tim Pawlenty couldn’t survive the Iowa straw poll; Rick Santorum just hasn’t been taken seriously from the start, nor has Ron Paul.

And, of course, Herman Cain should probably never have been in the mix in the first place — except for 9-9-9 and he seemed like “none of the above.” But to quote the comic Andy Borowitz’s latest headline: “Poll — 28 Percent Think Cain Had an Affair, 28 Percent Don’t Think Cain Had an Affair, 44 Percent Having Affair With Cain Right Now!”

Bye, bye, Herman — his wife will pull the plug on this campaign.

So, barring any remarkable moves by Santorum or Perry, are we down to a race between Newt and Mitt? Seems likely. Sometimes these long marathons work out for the Romneys of the world, who end up winning by outlasting the others. Keep your head downl don’t panic, steady as you go, make as few waves as possible, organize, organize, organize.   
Is he the 1984 Mondale against Gary Hart in the primaries? Can he just wear down Gingrich?

Maybe.

But right now, the votes for those destined to drop out are more likely to go initially to Gingrich. These are people who have been searching all year for someone other than Romney. They have gone first to Bachmann, then to Perry, then to Cain. They wondered whether Gingrich was real initially but now, after the debates and the Union Leader endorsement, they have decided that he is very real.

Cain’s voters will go more heavily to Gingrich initially, is my guess. So will those of the other candidates as they fade after Iowa and New Hampshire and South Carolina.

Can Gingrich rise as the front-runner and steamroll Mitt Romney in the next 60-90 days?

Possible. Romney, at least at this point, can’t seem to go much over 25 percent in any poll. His serial flip-flops, his lack of a core, his slick style, have really turned off voters.

But be careful what you wish for when it comes to Newt Gingrich. Romney’s team, as they move into January and February, will rip him to pieces. Will it be enough? We will see.

The 395-28 reprimand vote of Gingrich by the House of Representatives for ethics violations and the $300,000 fine, plus having to return his $4.5 million book advance, will be out there big time. Resigning after a disgraced election in 1998 and an affair and divorce as he ravaged Bill Clinton is not pretty. The whole conglomerate known as Newt Inc., with its million-dollar fees for work as a “historian,” will be an open book. The flights on private jets for campaign purposes paid for by Newt Inc. will be scrutinized. And let’s not forget the $1 million line of credit at Tiffany’s to really make the middle-class voters feel warm and fuzzy.  

And, of course, there are plenty of Newt flip-flops and issue positions for Republicans not to like — immigration, of course, plus global warming, cap-and-trade, mandates for health insurance, etc., etc.

Finally, Newt’s nastiness and condescension might play for a while, but they don’t exactly grow on you!

Romney and Gingrich could provide quite the show for political junkies as we start the new year! This could be a very messy showdown at the OK Corral.

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