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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,


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?


Join The Conversation
redegg redegg 9 years
Huckabee never had a chance of winning. That's why people were saying it was a vanity fight. The possibility of him getting enough votes was virtually impossible.
hausfrau hausfrau 9 years
That could be the best thing anyone on this site has said ever!
harmonyfrance harmonyfrance 9 years
Haha...I love emoticons. ;)
harmonyfrance harmonyfrance 9 years
Never beaten cabaker! I'm a trooper! :STRONG: Besides I'm not :scared: of :MOB: I'm a :NINJA:
syako syako 9 years
Obamaniacs = best.word.ever. Thanks cabaker! ;)
hausfrau hausfrau 9 years
Poor Harmony! So beaten down by the Obamaniacs!
stephley stephley 9 years
Nope, made an effort to keep the wording neutral.
harmonyfrance harmonyfrance 9 years
I'm sorry I made the assumption that you were both talking about Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. Apparently you're not. ;)
megnmac megnmac 9 years
Haha, exactly. It isn't a tea party, but it is an exchange of ideas. Harmony, you say 'BOTH' - but if someone is an issue candidate they aren't in a mano a mano type situation. It is a candidate with an issue, that they keep pushing into the national debate for the viable candidates. Like, say, drug policy. Or gay rights. Or a flat tax. Or the right to vote, like the National Women's Party. When you have an interest, and are running on a few niche issues, you aren't looking at getting a nomination, but in trying to get support for your interests.
stephley stephley 9 years
Harmony, I wasn't referring to any candidate. I meant in general, if you are really concerned that one issue isn't going to get enough attention - say environmental concerns in a time when jobs are disappearing - then I say stay in and keep pressing. That way, you mobilize voters to make sure that whoever wins, they're going to have to pay attention to your issue. They don't need to have tea parties, but stay on message and don't make it personal - to the greatest extent that's possible.
hausfrau hausfrau 9 years
McCain needs anger management? This is obvious because why?
harmonyfrance harmonyfrance 9 years
Oh please BOTH sides are negative. It's a campaign. What are they supposed to do have a tea party?
megnmac megnmac 9 years
I'm with stephley - if you're a principle candidate, you stay in the race to keep that issue out there and force the other candidates to address that issue too. When someone is running to ensure that certain issues get out there, staying ensures that that issue stays in the debate. But when you're attacking or being negative, you're no longer out there to keep the discussion going and not helping voters make a better choice, you're just a drain on the public.
OMGoshDramaQueen OMGoshDramaQueen 9 years
McCain needs [anger management] if it isn't obvious enough already.. Clinton or Obama.. it's gonna be one of them.. As for Mugabe.. those people want him OUT!
raciccarone raciccarone 9 years
I think John McCain should drop out now before his message gets over-saturated.
hausfrau hausfrau 9 years
I've worked on only one campaign, my husband has worked on a few and really I would say most candidates stay in the race until the money runs out, or comes close, because they feel indebted to their supporters. In Huck's case, I think he did it so the next time around people will think its his turn in a way, kind of like they did with McCain.
hausfrau hausfrau 9 years
amandajpostert amandajpostert 9 years
I thnk that terms are good but I also think that the American peole have a should have of a say, Because He's working for us, We're his employers, We hired him and we can fire him as well, asking to him resign is a cheap way to keep way to him in the White House for a little longer or until his term is up, because no one wants to take his place and try to clean his mess up for him so that he won't suffer any public humiliation, and he think he should be shown as an example to us and abroad, telling them we won't stand for it any longer and to repeat the damage would produce more scrutiny... The American people would cheered on for standing to this idiot and would be shameless no longer...aj
stephley stephley 9 years
It's fine to stay in a race if you're staying for a cause or your supporters, if your cause and supporters would be sidelined without you. It becomes vanity when most of your energy is spent denigrating your opponent and talking about yourself, especially when you're caught lying or exaggerating.
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