When Joe Lieberman finished fifth in the 2004 New Hampshire primary, he spun it famously as a "three-way split decision for third place."
Ladies and gentlemen, meet Rep. Duncan Hunter. We pretty much wrote off Hunter's campaign after -- OK, well, before -- the California congressman finished dead last in Iowa. So we were a little surprised to see an e-mail from the Hunter campaign over the weekend noting that he'd come in "a close third place behind Fred Thompson and Mitt Romney in the second national primary in Wyoming."
Things must have really turned around, huh?
Not exactly. Mitt Romney won the Wyoming caucuses with 67 percent of the vote. Fred Thompson came in second with 25 percent of the vote. Hunter's "close third place"? He drew all of 8 percent of the vote, which puts him just a mere 59 points behind Romney.
Ah, but the Hunter campaign says its man "beat Huckabee ... beat Giuliani ... beat McCain ... [and] beat Paul." And it's all true, only neither Huckabee nor Giuliani nor McCain even visited Wyoming during the run-up to the caucuses. Ron Paul did, but his antiwar position was never a serious sell in a state where George W. Bush beat John Kerry by 40 points in 2004.
But never mind the details; with Hunter's "close" third-place finish in Wyoming, his campaign says the race is "WIDE OPEN!" and Hunter is in it to win it. "Folks, there have been doubters, but let us put all doubt asunder," the campaign says. "If we win or place well in one more early primary ... the White House is within our grasp."
The Hunter campaign lays out a vision in which the various Republican candidates each win a state or two before Super Tuesday, leaving everything up for grabs when that magical day arrives. Hunter's state in this scenario is Nevada, the only problem being that a Dec. 9 poll for the Las Vegas Review-Journal found that he had the support of only 2 percent of the state's Republicans.
But don't let the doomsayers get you down. "The momentum is building more every day!" Hunter's campaign says. "We can't afford to let it slip by! Every day and every penny counts."
Really, you should get on the bandwagon before it's too late. The campaign says "$25 will pay for the gas to drive [Hunter] to an event. $50 will buy a full tank of gas for a day's drive. $75 will buy 5 seconds of a critical radio ad. $150 will buy 10 seconds of a critical radio ad. $250 will buy a full radio ad. $500 will buy two ads. $1,000 will pay for 4 ads, a week's worth of gas, or two plane tickets!"
What the campaign doesn't say: Sooner or later, those tickets will be most useful for a one-way trip home to El Cajon.