Primary competition heats up

Bryce McDevitt

There has never been a political movement, at least in recent memory, as wide scale or significant for the future of the United States as the current race for the White House.

Historically there has never been a black or female candidate embraced as openly as Democrats Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.

On the flip side, Republican Mike Huckabee appears to be generating buzz despite his strong religious background.

These unique shifts away from the stereotypical political race act as an illustration for what is occurring not only in the United States but around the world: change – a shift from the neoconservative candidate to one who is moderate, straightforward and able to transcend Republican and Democratic affiliations.

Unchanging, however, are the front runners for the presidency, at least within the Democratic Party.

Democratic candidates Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton lead the race, with North Carolina Senator John Edwards lagging behind.

Obama has portrayed himself as a formidable candidate, winning the Democratic nomination in Iowa and a second-place finish in New Hampshire and Nevada.

Furthermore, Obama has received several key endorsements: John Kerry, former presidential candidate and running mate of John Edwards in 2004, the Culinary Workers Union and recently The State, which is the largest newspaper in South Carolina.

The State claimed that Obama is the “Democrat most likely to unify America.”

Obama is expected to challenge Clinton for the bid in South Carolina, which relies heavily on the black vote.

South Carolina’s primary, which will take place on Saturday, is believed to be in the hands of black voters, who make up around 50 percent of the ballots.

Recent polls have shown Obama as overtaking Clinton for the nomination.

All three candidates squared off in a debate Monday night, in which harsh words were exchanged and memories of political subtly from previous elections flew out the door.

When discussing the past, as reported on the National Public Radio’s Web site, Obama stated that Clinton was “a corporate lawyer sitting on the board at Wal-Mart,” while he was helping unemployed workers on the streets of Chicago.

Clinton replied later that she was fighting against misguided Republican policies “when you [Obama] were practicing law and representing your contributor … in his slum landlord business in inner-city Chicago.”

Despite being thrown off by a poor showing in Iowa, in which she came in third, Clinton rallied by winning New Hampshire and the popular vote in the Nevada caucus, where Obama received the majority of the delegation.

Additionally, Clinton is coming into South Carolina following a win in Michigan (neither Obama nor Edwards were on the ballot in Michigan).

Although Edwards claims to be in the race until the end, he has yet to win a state, finishing second in Iowa, and third in Nevada and New Hampshire.

Edwards has been cast under the shadow of the only two realistic Democratic candidates: Obama and Clinton.

Other Democratic candidates Joseph Biden (Delaware), Bill Richardson (New Mexico) and Chris Dodd (Connecticut) have all withdrawn from the presidential race.

The Republican primary is more wide open than the Democratic primary, with the bulk of the states falling to very different candidates.

Mike Huckabee is the most intriguing of the Republican candidates, as he surprisingly won the vote in Iowa.

Huckabee’s success can be attributed to his strong religious roots, resulting in an evangelical push from Iowans, the source of his victory.

Interestingly enough, Huckabee did not spend a significant amount of time campaigning in Iowa and appeared on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno in New York City the night of the caucus.

His unique strategy was surprisingly successful in comparison to Romney’s plan of spending an exuberant amount of money and time in Iowa, only to finish in a disappointing second.

Romney, however, was able to bounce back from Iowa finishing second in New Hampshire and winning his birth-state Michigan, followed by victories in Nevada and Wyoming.

Romney recently came in fourth in South Carolina.

The Republican primaries have been won by three different candidates: former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee in Iowa, Arizona Senator John McCain in New Hampshire and South Carolina, and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney in Michigan, Wyoming and Nevada.

Arizona Senator John McCain has also been somewhat of a surprise as he has campaigned well, winning South Carolina and New Hampshire, finishing second in Michigan, third in Nevada, and fourth in Wyoming and Iowa.

McCain has been successful at luring in independent voters based on his more moderate political approach.

The true mystery of the Republican race is former New York Mayor Rudolph “Rudy” Giuliani. Giuliani has yet to actively campaign in any state except Florida.

His lack of effort has shown up in the standings as he finished sixth in South Carolina, Michigan, Nevada and Iowa and fourth in Wyoming and New Hampshire.

Giuliani is putting all his efforts into a win in Florida, where the primary will be taking place this coming Tuesday.

If Giuliani wishes to have any realistic shot in becoming the Republican nomination he must win Florida, proving to his critics that his time there was well spent.

Republicans Duncan Hunter (California) and Fred Thompson (Tennessee) have withdrawn their names from the Republican race.

Senator Thompson was seen as part of the Republicans’ prime crop, which includes Romney, Huckabee, McCain and even Giuliani early in the race.

He appeared to be simply going through the motions up until, during, and following his third place finish in South Carolina, which was dubbed a “must-win.”