Jon Huntsman officially dropped out of the race earlier today, which means two things heading into tonight’s South Carolina debate: Michelle Malkin’s mute button finally gets a chance to cool off, and the field has now been narrowed down to five:
The remaining Republican presidential candidates treated Jon Huntsman’s endorsement of Mitt Romney as he bowed out of the race Monday much they way they treated Huntsman during his candidacy — with barely a glance.
“I like Jon Huntsman. I actually got a chance to meet him and his wonderful wife and family and I wish him the very, very best, and he brings something to the table. But this is a race about who’s going to be the strong conservative against Barack Obama,” Rick Santorum told Fox News.
With Huntsman gone and with Fox News, The Wall Street Journal and the South Carolina Republican Party literally setting their debate stage Monday night with one less lectern, many pundits and voters — and even a candidate — agree that should Romney pull of the hat trick this Saturday in South Carolina and go 3-0 in the early GOP contests, it could be very tough to stop him
The race is down to five now, which means four are tweaking their strategy to undo Romney’s substantial lead in the polls, both in South Carolina and across the nation.
The action (if you can call a debate “action”) starts at 9 p.m. EST. Watch live on Fox News or online here. Romney’s stretching his lead nationally and this could be the last chance for the remaining four to throw everything they’ve got. Could be entertaining.
Additional drinking game rule: Double shot when Romney says something along the line of “four Pinocchios, Newt — four Pinnocchios!“