McCain knocks out Giuliani AND Bloomberg!

John McCain apparently landed a devastating 1-2 punch with his victory in Florida Tuesday night, not only knocking the clueless Rudy Giuliani out of the race but also effectively knee-capping Michael Bloomberg’s oft-rumored, self-financed Independent run:

Senator Lieberman says the increasing likelihood that Senator McCain will win the Republican nomination could keep Mayor Bloomberg on the sidelines of the presidential race this fall.

“My feeling all along has been that if he ran, it would be because he had a real reason to run, and frankly, he and John McCain have a lot in common,” the Connecticut senator said in a telephone interview this afternoon. “So if John gets the nomination, I would guess it’s less likely the mayor will run for president.”

While I think there’s enough of a distinction between McCain and Bloomberg that a McCain/Clinton race would still make him a viable third candidate, I suspect the combination of [relative] moderates like Lieberman and Arnold Schwarzenegger endorsing McCain means he’d risk being cast as the Republican’s Ralph Nader and simply ensure an easier path to victory for Clinton. McCain/Obama would be even more problematic for him as Obama’s already secured the “change” mantle and offers a much starker contrast to the 71-year-old McCain than Bloomberg ever could.

Interestingly, one of the key figures behind the Draft Bloomberg effort here in NY, Karin Gallet (whom I interviewed for Spindle last year), has given up the cause:

“He’s not running. He’s convinced me… Even his good buddies are backing McCain. I think they would know if there was a reason to hold off on an endorsement. McCain is MB’s base, so the opportunity has faded. And besides, even with the best effort of the big bad unity 08 boys, we’ve not seen any significant pop support, none of that lefty groundswell ala Clark.”

Hat tip to Ben Smith from Politico, who has become my favorite political blogger covering the primaries, and whose publication is co-sponsoring tonight’s historic debate on CNN between Clinton and Obama which starts in about 20 minutes. Hopefully it’s better moderated than last night’s terrible Republican debate where Anderson Cooper almost completely ignored Mike Huckabee and Ron Paul despite them being the two most reasonable and interesting candidates on the stage. For bat-shit crazy Republicans, I mean.

Tonight, I’m hoping the gloves come off and they come out fighting cleanly, with all the hits remaining above the belt. Clinton’s had a lot of dirt come out today (Mother Jones has a solid overview) and Obama finally doesn’t have to worry about taking unexpected and disingenous shots from Edwards. I don’t have a lot of faith in Cooper’s moderating skills, though, so Obama’s going to have to bring his A-game like never before because Clinton is an excellent debater and knows she’s fighting against a growing Tsunami.

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