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Fred Calls It Quits

This e-mail just came in over the transom from the Thompson campaign:

"Today I have withdrawn my candidacy for President of the United States. I hope that my country and my party have benefited from our having made this effort. Jeri and I will always be grateful for the encouragement and friendship of so many wonderful people."

The obvious quickie analysis is that this helps John McCain, a longtime friend whom it wouldn't be hard to imagine Thompson endorsing. Having said that, Thompson's presence clearly hurt Mike Huckabee most in South Carolina. Thompson's 15 percent of the evangelical vote there held Huckabee's lead among that group to a modest 40-27 over McCain. With Thompson officially out, look for Huckabee to consolidate the evangelical vote and stick around a bit longer. (Though I don't see this improving Huckabee's prospects long-term.)

--Noam Scheiber