Sen. Lindsey Graham follows three other Republican presidential wannabes who came to their senses and dropped out of the 2016 race for the White House.
Graham of South Carolina made the announcement Monday on a YouTube video. Others who exited the crowded stage ahead of him were Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal in November, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker in September and former Texas Gov. Rick Perry also in September.
Each struggled to get and stockpile enough of the two “M”s that are essential in any presidential campaign — media attention and money.
They are the rocket fuel that enable candidates to defy political gravity, keeping their presidential hopes afloat and preventing them from crashing and burning over the least little misstatement or stumble. The media attention helps to pull in more political donations, and the money is essential in getting more media attention.
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Neither can exist without the other.
The candidates who dropped out learned that lesson. It has been especially difficult this year for presidential contenders with billionaire Donald Trump leading in the polls. He gets the media attention with the outrageous statements he makes, sucking away the political oxygen from everyone else.
Trump also has the money, and a growing number of people want to give him still more.
Despite the shrinking number of GOP candidates, there are still far too many remaining. The crowded field of people with everyone talking is like being caught in some desolate part of dirt-road Kansas, where there is no cellphone signal and the only thing playing on the radio is a mix of stations, producing only static and an incomprehensible blob of voices from all over America.
The GOP presidential hopeful trying to hang on through the Feb. 1 Iowa caucuses are (in alphabetical order to keep from showing any preference) former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush; retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson; New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie; Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas; Carly Fiorina, a former technology company chief executive; former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee; Ohio Gov. John Kasich; former New York Gov. George Pataki; Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky; Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida; former Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania; and Donald Trump.
The vulnerable among the 12 (again in alphabetical order) are Bush, Christie, Huckabee, Kasick, Pataki, Paul and Santorum. If these seven were to come to their senses and drop out before or after the Iowa caucuses, that would give voters five remaining candidates from which to pick the next Republican presidential nominee and his or her likely running mate.
Again in alphabetical order, one stage for GOP presidential debates could easily hold Carson, Cruz, Fiorina, Rubio and Trump. That set makes for an incredibly diverse group — especially for the Republican Party, which has had a history of focusing on white males to the exclusion of people of color and everyone else.
Voters in primaries would get to chose from a woman, an African American, two Hispanics and a wealthy white guy. Imagine the money and media attention each then could garner. Maybe by the time the field is narrowed, each will speak his/her own mind and stop trying to out Trump The Donald with the same old Republican song.
The Democrats would be green with envy.
For the GOP, the remaining field for the White House would be the ethnic-and-racial dream that some people in the Republican Party have always wanted. But no amount of planning, focus group sessions, back-room deals, wringing of hands or gnashing of teeth could have made it happen.
Only the country becoming more racially and ethnically diverse could have made this a reality. It makes watching the continuing GOP campaign much more intriguing if diversity is the final outcome.