Campaign Outlook

GOP's tack to the right will later require a sprint to the middle; Bill Clinton needs a timeout.

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On the eve of the South Carolina primary for Democrats and before the next GOP primary in Florida, the landscape looks this way:

The Republicans are squabbling over who is the most conservative; Barry Goldwater would love it.

The Democrats seem hellbent on snatching defeat from the gaping jaws of victory.

The GOP candidates are drifting so far to the right that the eventual nominee will have to sprint to the middle before the general election.

John McCain portrays himself as the worst nightmare for Democrats. And he probably is, given his appealing life story and his standing with independents.

But even he risks a backlash as the primary season continues and he tries to outconservative his foes.

Mitt Romney seems driven to prove he has no principles whatsoever. He has abandoned all his stands as a moderate governor of Massachusetts. But he has his own money to continue, win or lose after the February 5 Super Tuesday round.

Mike Huckabee's star is sinking and Rudy Giuliani's star never rose. Ron Paul remains in as a nuisance by opposing the war in Iraq.

On the Democratic side, Bill Clinton is making a disturbing issue with his presence. He needs a timeout.

The Clinton campaign insists he is a formidable asset to his wife. Some influential Democrats beg to differ.

He is hurting his party's chances of winning in November as a lightning rod his wife. His criticism of Barack Obama has been over the line. And his blaming the press was a silly attempt to deflect the criticism.

Hillary Clinton may well be on her way to the Democratic nomination in Denver. But it is hers to win or lose, not his.

All of this worries voters who wonder whether that two-for-the-price-of-one Clinton story deserves a rerun.

Obama has some staying power in the race, but John Edwards must see the writing on the wall with a shortage of money.

The bottom line is that all of us wise guys who said the nominees would definitely be set on February 5 may be wrong.