During most political campaigns, attentions naturally drift to the front-runners.
After all, these are the people seen as mostly likely to win the office being contested. As a result, media types and politicians put more focus on them for clues as to who they are and what they'll do when elected.
Obviously, this frustrates the second-tier candidates trying to break out. Nowhere is that more apparent than in Iowa this year, where lesser-known presidential candidates are working for an upset finish that will thrust them into the limelight.
That could happen, too. Throughout caucus history, second-tier candidates have sometimes upset the leading ones here. (Remember how George H.W. Bush beat Ronald Reagan here in 1980? While Bush didn't win the nomination that year, his Iowa victory made him a leading candidate and helped him become Reagan's vice president and later president.)
So let's forget Mitt Romney, John McCain and Rudy Giuliani. Let's set aside John Edwards, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. How is the second tier shaping up in Iowa this time?
Richardson will be a force to contend with sooner or later. The Clinton and Obama campaigns are very slick and polished, but that's not what a lot of folks are looking for in their politicians and I still think there's a very good chance they could wipe each other out. On the Republican side, Fred Thompson is the elephant in the room, but since he's not declared, he's not really a factor. Yet. Huckabee is probably the most legitimate candidate from their second tier, but the longer people keep talking about Ron Paul, the more bold the PaleoCon branch of the party will become.
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