As the dust cleared in 2009, there was no shortage of prospective saviors. Would it be Sarah Palin, the gorgeous and polarizing lightning rod from Alaska, who overshadowed running mate John McCain in the general election? What about Mike Huckabee, the glib, guitar-playing preacher and former Arkansas governor who combined populist foreign policy instincts with a down-home faith that even his detractors conceded was genuine?
Defeated at nearly every level in the 2008 elections, Republicans were supposed to be using the current four-year stretch in purgatory to rethink the issues, redefine themselves as a party, and (most of all) select a charismatic leader to get them back in the game. Turns out, it's not taking too long to winnow the field.
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