I don't think it comes as much of a surprise to anyone that Fred Thompson decided to hang it up to potentially return to playing Rudy Giuliani on TV. How does his departure affect the race for the GOP nomination though. I'm sure the folks aligned with Huckabee would have liked for the former Tennessee senator to drop out before South Carolina last weekend. Here's the take on the situation from The Fix over at The Washington Post.
Meanwhile they are still cleaning up the carnage from the debate hall in northeast South Carolina. If you missed the Democrats' debate from Myrtle Beach Monday night, you may want to go check it out (CNN still has the debate up and the transcript is also there.). You may also want to fire up your memory while you're at it because we'll see/hear some of this material again come general election time. The viable Republican candidates sure will once one of them emerges as the party's nominee. You can't complain when intra-party battles help your own potential opposition research for the fall campaign. What do you think? Will this debate bickering hurt both Clinton and Obama in South Carolina? And will that help Edwards? The CNN page linked above has a video with undecideds turned off by what they saw.
There are a few things to note as we approach the Democratic primary on Saturday:
1) Will Jim Clyburn make an endorsement? The influential South Carolina Democrat said he wouldn't (...until after Iowa), but there is some chatter out there indicating that a well-timed Obama endorsement could happen on Thursday. Thanks to The Caucus at the New York Times for that link. Hopefully this isn't a case of a runaway blog story, but there is some other speculation to "back this up."
2) What will turnout be like for the primary this weekend? Turnout for the GOP primary was down as compared to what the state experienced for the Republican primary there in 2000, but let's remember that South Carolina has an open primary system. Independents may have stayed home last weekend so that they could participate in the Democratic contest this weekend. But it could just have been the cold, rainy weather, a crop of unsatisfying candidates or that undecideds just couldn't decide and stayed home.
3) What do Clinton's trips to California yesterday and New York today mean (track daily visits at Slate.com)? Is she ceding South Carolina to Obama or is her campaign focusing on February 5? The big win that Rob spoke about Obama needing in the comments section the other day may not mean so much if Hillary didn't give her all in the state.