So who will be the first Republican to formally leave the field?
DC Whispers says that Chris Christie will be gone by the end of August. Rick Perry is running on fumes and not paying his staff. Rachel Maddow had Rand Paul heading for the locker room based on his troubles within the Kentucky GOP, and a while back I thought that Rick Santorum would be out by now. But look for one or two of those to suspend their campaign by Labor Day.
There are legal reasons why a candidate would only “suspend” their campaign rather then really pull the plug. Once you end it, according to the FEC, that’s it; you can’t have a Ross Perot moment and come back like a zombie if the field suddenly looks good for you without having to start all over from scratch. Suspending it doesn’t end it technically, but it’s like a relationship when you say “honey, let’s cool it for a little while.” It’s all over except for getting your toothbrush back.
There will be some campaigns that will limp along even though there’s no chance whatsoever that they’ll get anywhere; Jim Gilmore, George Pataki, and Lindsey Graham fall into those categories, but that’s because they’re small enough that they don’t need all the oxygen of a Christie or Paul campaign, and they’re hoping to get noticed for a VP nod. They’ll still be looking for attention by the time the convention gets to Cleveland next summer.
But who do you think will be the first to go?