The Also-Ran Dead Pool

Talk is swirling that John McCain, forced by a second straight quarter of anemic fundraising to purge his campaign of perhaps 90 staffers, is not long for the presidential race.

But even if the proud Arizonan, whose support in national and key early state polls is plummeting into single digits, does come to see his second White House bid as doomed, it seems likely (as I argued yesterday) that he’ll stubbornly plow ahead anyway, dwindling treasury and fleeing aides be damned. After all, hasn’t his bullheadedness on Iraq demonstrated the profound and baffling lengths to which he’ll go to avoid being branded a quitter?

But the mere possibility of fresh blood in the ’08 waters does raise the question of which of the other 18 (19 with Fred Thompson) candidates will be the next to endure a death watch. For any of them, giving up on the presidential dream would be a wrenching decision, and surely they’d all be tempted to stick it out like Mr. McCain.

Thus, in the truest spirit of midsummer speculation, the Observer welcomes you to the inaugural edition of its …


Bill Richardson (D- New Mexico)


Would probably leave the race if…It’s announced that every future Democratic debate will be moderated by Tim Russert.

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Sam Brownback (R-Kansas)


Would probably leave the race if That Paris Hilton sex tape leaks to the press.

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Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio)


Would probably leave the race ifHis wife told him to.

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Mike Huckabee (R-Arkansas)


Would probably leave the race if After reviewing yet another discouraging poll from Iowa, a dejected Huckabee suffers a relapse, raiding his campaign’s treasury and blowing it in a gluttonous weekend-long binge at every Waffle House, Sonic Burger, and Hardee’s in the Greater Little Rock Area.

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Chris Dodd (D-Connecticut)


Would probably leave the race if Kucinich buys a stop-watch and supplants him as the go-to source for debate time-keeping.

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Tommy Thompson (R-Wisconsin)


Would probably leave the race ifHe loses that petition to change his name to “Fred.”

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Joe Biden (D-Delaware)


Would probably leave the race ifInspired by some of Biden’s statements earlier in the campaign, VH-1 offers him a slot on a new reality show, “The Perilous Race,” competing against the likes of Michael Richards and Don Imus on a scavenger hunt through downtown Newark.

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Tom Tancredo (R-Colorado)


Would probably leave the race if He accomplishes his sole objective of stoking enough right-wing outrage at Congressional efforts to create a path to citizenship for undocumented workers to kill the bill. Wait…he’s still running?

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Mike Gravel (D-Alaska)


Would probably leave the race if… While filming his next campaign ad, Gravel accidentally lights himself on fire, then runs to a nearby pond and jumps in, only to realize that he can’t swim.

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Duncan Hunter (R-California)


Would probably leave the race if PBS were to offer the self-described fence-builder Bob Vila’s former spot on “This Old House.”

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Ron Paul (R-Texas)


Would probably leave the race if Osama activates his cell.

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Jim Gilmore (R-Virginia)


Would probably leave the race if Oh, wait. The answer seems to be: if his retina detaches. The saddest thing about this news is that Gilmore stopped campaigning on Friday, and nobody noticed until today. Get well soon, Jim—we need you back here on the Also-Ran Dead Pool. The Also-Ran Dead Pool