In the long run, there's only room for one candidate, period. By this point next year, the Republicans will have settled on a single nominee. Prior to that, of course, there may well be just two candidates competing in the post-New Hampshire primaries and caucuses. But there's no reason those candidates can't be two women, or two Minnesotans, or two Mormons, or two Protestant white guys (although no one seems to have concerns about that).Exactly.
While I'm at it, I'll take a shot at Ryan Lizza, who argues that Jon Huntsman's chances are increased because Mitt Romney says he's downplaying Iowa. One more time: as long as the press continues to cover Iowa, it's not going to become a "fringe event." And of course they're going to cover Iowa. What that means is that whoever wins Iowa is going to get a blast of publicity. Hunstman, most likely, won't. The only way he might is if Iowa ends the way it did in 2000, by crowning a nominee (which would presumably be Romney, but I suppose it's possible that Perry or Pawlenty could be odds-on by then). In that case, it's certainly possible that the press, in full panic mode at the possibility of no nomination battle at all in 2012, would surge to Huntsman. But that's not how to seriously contest the nomination; that's how to preserve the illusion of a close race once it's all over but the shouting. More likely, two or three candidates will dominate the news coming out of Iowa, and the guy who sat out won't be one of them.
Back to Seth: Nice catch!