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Political Exit Strategy

The Exit Strategy — When Should Politicians Say Goodbye?

Where is that fine line between tenacious and delusional in politics? At what point should a politician look around and decide he's no longer fighting the good fight, and graciously (or not! that would be entertaining, too.) drop out. John Dickerson (one-third of the Slate Political Gabfest I love so much) has a new piece examining just that.


I was surprised by this tidbit: In the waning days of Mike Huckabee's run, people were saying it was a vanity fight, that he just liked the idea of keeping himself out there. Mike for Mike's sake. Not so! Sometimes it's about all the people who've worked so hard for the candidate. Sen. Lamar Alexander who ran for the Republican nomination in 1996 and 2000 said, "a lot of people invested time and money and effort into my campaign when I ran. One of my feelings was that I let them down. I haven't done as well as I should have." Oh! That's sweet and a little sad! I hadn't thought about it that way. To see what else keeps candidates keepin' on, read more.

Another concept to consider, especially if you tend toward a skeptical view — a lot of candidates are campaigning out of principle! Giving up a race, means losing the mouthpiece for that cause. That's a tough thing to do. Not to mention the fact that comebacks are everywhere. A McCain adviser told the Senator last year when the chips were down, "I have a very complicated strategy for you. Stay in the race until you're the last man standing."

True to the prevailing media trend, the piece shows a picture of Hillary Clinton, though the query could just as easily apply to any political figure. When should Robert Mugabe in Zimbabwe end the fight? Should Hillary? And forget elections, how do any recently embattled and resigned figures know when to say "enough's enough?" When isn't it beneficial to try to be the last man standing?

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