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Just Another Super Tuesday: Huck's Out, McCain's In, And Hillary's Staying Put

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If primary coverage happened and nobody liveblogged it, did it really exist? Glynnis and I wondered this last night as we watched the networks talk excitedly about exit polls and ask their pundit panels questions and show their flashy election map-walls (CNN, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery) and generally fill time until the end of Double-Super Tuesday was nigh. While the night progressed and nothing much happened, the most noticeable thing, really, was the weird fact that commercials for Fox News kept popping up on CNN and MSNBC, urging us to join them in their Super Tuesday coverage (we'd had that explained to us before - basically it's because the local cable operator "sells certain blocks of ads and it runs across a number of channels, including MSNBC and CNN. Guess being "beat out by CNN last time threw a scare into them). In any case, we did switch over to Brit Hume and his crack political team, but when we did there was Bill Kristol yammering away and why would we want to listen to that? So we returned to the warm embrace of CNN and their two-tiered pundit tables and John King at his magic wall, and to the gang at MSNBC, who bordered on loopy for much of the night, but also checking in with FNC's new "Strategy Room" (or "Strategery Room," as Karl Rove joked. He's still evil, but that was a good one.) Actually, the Strategy Room is a pretty awesome idea — a live-streaming commentary online featuring the former demonic mastermind of the Republican party — and friends — with a moniker that unashamedly borrows from its hated brethren to the left on the dial (but no complaining, CNN, you announced "The Situation Room" after MSNBC had announced their own "Situation" with Tucker Carlson. Remember that?).

All that said...the impulse to liveblog was not upon us. Oh, the hugeness of this day was not lost on us — it appeared that Tina Fey might just have the power to move mountains — but given the avalanche of punditry that would follow (to keep to a mountain theme), it seemed silly to front-end load with speculation. Basically it all came down to whether Hillary would stay in the race, and here was our feeling: OBVOIUSLY. Despite the drumbeat for her exit — and isn't Bill Richardson kicking himself today? — it seemed that whatever happened, Clinton had somehow managed to win the pre-primary spin war. The Obama camp had closed a huge lead in both states, Obama was calling her "desperate" and David Plouffe was dismissing her as mathematically impossible, and saying thing like "The Clinton campaign had one task on March 4, to seriously erode our lead in pledge delegates. And they are going to fail on that measure and fail miserably." But really, all she had to do was do well enough to raise reasonable doubt — because finally things were breaking her way: the media were finally starting to get tough on Obama, the Rezko trial had just started, there was that NAFTA/Canada backroom meeting, and she had just

So that's what we were waiting for, really. In the meantime, Bob Cesca and Jason Linkins were holding down the fort, so we figured we'd just wait until the news rolled in. But then we were hit with that other news, that news that if we had thought about, we might have expected, but still, was a jolt. And so our night began:

9:21 PM Rachel: Huckabee out.
Glynnis: Huckabee out! Gracefully it would seem.
Rachel: Look at that image - he and Janet standing before the image of a giant, rippling American flag.
Glynnis: His wife looks like she's tearing up.
Rachel: He looks just as cool delivering this speech as he ever did on the stump. "I have so many people to thank, starting with this lady here to my right. "
9:22 PM Glynnis: Oh Huckabee, you will be missed. Even though I could not disagree with you more.
Rachel: She's choked - Janet Huckabee, who could bench press half the D.C. press corps, is fighting back tears. Aw.
Glynnis: We are watching MSNBC, by the way. Olbermann has just cut in to say that that Hillary has taken Rhode Island.
Rachel: Concessionus Interruptus! Hillary wins Rhode Islad!
9:24 PM Glynnis: Janet is struggling to maintain composure. This is same woman who regaled us in NH with stories of jumping out of planes with the marines.
Rachel: "I've finished the race...and I've kept the faith."
9:25 PM "I'd rather lose an election than lose the principles that got me into politics in the first place."
Meanwhile, Jim Pinkerton, does this mean you're coming back to Fox News Watch then?
9:26 PM Glynnis: "Started and ended with very little resources"...sing it!
Where will Huckabee go? Rach, you have a theory, no?
9:27 PM Huckabee can't resist: he says he's given a voice to the unborn children in this country.
9:29 PM Huckabee: We'll do everything we can to help Senator McCain and our party.
9:30 PM Rachel: "We aren't going away completely..."
...because he's about to get some sort of talk show, mark my words.
Yes, that is my theory.
9:32 PM Glynnis: He's now reading from a letter from the Battle of Alamo. Victory or Death. I hope this doesn't portend to Huck's future actions!
9:33 PM Rachel: Yeah seriously.
Farewell, Huckabee
Glynnis: Somebody in the crowd says "you're a great American, Mike."
9:34 PM I'll miss Huckabee. Despite a rather terrifying platform he's been by far the most enjoyable to watch.
9:48 PM Rachel: Alrighty!
It's official - McCain is the nominee. And there he is with Cindy.
9:49 PM I'm sorry, but it's impossible not to feel somehow moved by how happy and moved he seems, and how widely Cindy is beaming.
Glynnis: Cindy is in yellow. A LOT of yellow.
Rachel: Ahem, it's the color of hope.
This is a long, long time dream being fulfilled for him
Rachel: Let's not forget about the Surge and "Bomb Iran," but right now, it's a nice moment.
9:50 PM "Keeping America safe, prosperous and proud."
Reasonable people difffer on the best way to do THAT.
On the plus side, I think Megan McCain in the White House will make Jenna Bush seem like a boring wallflower.
9:51 PM Glynnis: "My presidency, given our alternatives, is in the best interest of the country we love."
I see a GOP platform coming our way
9:52 PM McCain: "I owe my country every opportunity I've ever had.
That's a nice line."
9:53 PM That said, he is a terrible speech giver. He is never in the moment. I'd be curious to see an Obama/McCain debate.
9:54 PM He's not backing down over Iraq, that's for sure.
Rachel: Why doesn't someone tell him to keep it SHORT?
Ah, well, he's got almost a year to learn. Wait, no he doesn't, he has less than 8 months. Wow, I can't believe how fast this election season is going. It's FLYING. I can remember saying, "It's 18 months 'til the election, and a lot can change until then...." That, as it seems, was an understatement.
Let's wrap up McCain: He's going to the White House tomorrow to be endorsed by Bush. Pre-scheduled, apparently. Well, then that's that. I don't think it will keep Huckabee off the airwaves though. Expect to see him on Morning Joe soon.

Here's Huck's concession speech:



11:17 PM Glynnis: Lady in Red! Hillary takes Ohio.
11:18 PM Rachel: WOW. Decisively, too. God, I know we didn't think she'd be knocked out — well, starting this morning — but still, it's unbelievable that she came back like this. Let's put it this way, I had my doubts.
...and as if on cue: "For everybody who has ever been counted out and refused to be knocked out, for everyone who has stumbled and stood right back up and for everybody who works hard and never gives up — this one's for you."
Wow. Ladies and gentlemen, tonight's message of hope brought to you by...Hillary Clinton.
Glynnis: Hillary arrives: may have been counted out but refused to be knocked out.
Rachel: "You know what they say: As Ohio goes, so goes the nation.
Well, this nation's coming back, and so is this campaign!"
11:19 PM "No candidate in recent history has won the White House without winning the Ohio primary."
Rachel: ....unless you're the change candidate, of course. Ha.
Glynnis: She's putting a lot on Ohio.
Rachel: Man oh man, does she ever owe this state. NAFTA better not be a footnote of this campaign.
Glynnis: The crowd: "Yes She Will!" WOW.
Rachel: Does that count as a creative borrow?
Eek, no need to mention Florida — the unlearned lesson of this campaign is when it's time for humility. On both sides.
11:24 PM Glynnis: Oh I think we're ready for health care...not just for "some" people, or for "most" people. For ALL people!
11:26 PM "When that phone rings at 3am in the morning"...the red phone rears its head!
11:28 PM Rachel: Guess that one worked. Isn't it funny how the things the pundits mock tend to be most effective?
11:30 PM Glynnis: We're going to leave with our values.
She sounds strong.
Rachel: Where's Obama tonight?
I haven't seen him on the telly.
Glynnis: Hope into Reality. I think we are going to be hearing a lot of this phrase.
Rachel: Waiting to get the last word? Ain't no network switching from this.
11:31 PM Glynnis: She definitely does not sound like someone who is ready to drop out.
11:33 PM Rachel: Two political warriors at their best
You know what I just realized? Tonight there's no Obama storyline
It's Huck, McCain and Hillary
11:34 PM Glynnis: For the last few days there has been a sense that the tide is about to turn against Obama and towards Hillary. And, at least on the coverage on MSNBC, it seems like the media is ready to pick up on this a bit.
There's not a whole lot of talk about her dropping out.
Rachel: I know - Jonathan Alter seems far, far away.

Here's the MSNBC gang talking about the significance of Ohio to a successful Dem campaign for president. Tom Brokaw: "As they say in Texas, if it's true it ain't braggin':







Glynnis: Obama's congratulates Senator Clinton.
11:40 PM Rachel: Right at the top, gracefully. Full marks. And note that she did not - he did win Vermont, after all. Geez, you've got to love ALL states, here, people - even the ones that didn't break your way.
Rachel: His "How ya doin' Texas?" at the top was exuberant - and he and Michelle don't look too upset. Actually, they look fantastic. What a couple. You know, however this thing goes these two people have really changed the country, I think. And whatever Obama has to say about the value of 8 years as First Lady - I'm giving her a lot of credit for where he is today.
Glynnis: Uh Oh - Obama just went straight into delegate counts.
11:41 PM Rachel: We are who we've been waiting for!
Glynnis: Obama has already launched into his stump speech.
It's too early, he need more off the top lead up.
11:42 PM Rachel: "The politics that have shut us out, let us down..." He says "us" but these politics didn't seem to hold him back much.
Glynnis: Oh no - he's quoting Will.i.am
Rachel: IT'S A MOBIUS STRIP OF HOPE!
11:43 PM Glynnis: "In the weeks to come we will begin a great debate..." Unclear how this will be different than the twenty that have preceded it.
12:02 AM Rachel: Post-Obama: Chris Matthews approves of the "I am American" line - making it popular to be American again.
He thought it was a powerful speech. No word on his leg's thrill-o-meter.
12:09 AM Rachel: WHOA. Russert just read a memo from the Obama campaign with their predictions for tonight and for the next three months. And he treated it like....news. Like a blueprint. Apparently they were fully expecting to lose tonight, wha? That reminds me of the SNL skit, Amy Poehler as Hillary: "We were always planning to lose in Wisconsin."

1:15 AM Rachel:This is interesting on CNN: Bill Schneider and Soledad O'Brien going through exit polling data. Clinton was perceived as having a clear plan for the future; Obama was more inspiring (but in Ohio, Clinton was close). Sais Schneider: "The bottom line on this, I think, is that Clinton delivers, Obama inspires." Then John King attacks the magic wall, wielding his fingers like weapons of vote-counting. Or something. Watch it here:







(Sorry for cutting that off at the end. I am not quite as good at video-clipping as John King is at magic-walling. He plays that thing like a fiddle.)

MSNBC must be slipping their panelists something. They have a serious case of the giggles tonight. One of our news editors goes all moony every time Norah O'Donnell laughs. BriWi and Keith Olbermann are trying to out-SNL knowledge each other. Earlier they both compared McCain to Churchill (in comeback terms). Said BriWi, hearkening back to his POW days: "There's no quit in the guy. He sometimes jokes that he's been scared by the professional....You've got to bring it worse than that if you're going to get John McCain's attention." Do these campaign ads write themselves or what?

Okay so what are we left with? People are now making the point that Obama outspent Hillary 4 to 1 on TV ads; that kind of fact will always carry with it the whiff of Mitt Romney. Tim Russert seems apoplectic with joy that this will be going on 'til June. Wow. This campaign is never-ending. Here's some wrap-up, we're going to bed:

The equally persuasive position of the two campaigns, as expressed by CNN's Suzanne Malveaux:







Tim Russert on the changed playing field:




See you in Pennsylvania! Sheesh.


Update from this morning: We forgot about the Rush Limbaugh factor. Did he put her over the top? Either way, she's got a message for him. Nice cameo from Karl Rove.










Update II: Talk of Hil and the Big O as running mates? They'll need some couples therapy first, per Jon Stewart: