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March 5th, 2012
01:20 PM ET

Letters to the President #1141: 'The hockey defense'

Reporter's Note: I write to President Obama. He does not write to me. It has been this way for a while.

Dear Mr. President,

Super Tuesday is looming large on the Republican horizon as they try to nail down their pick to challenge you. Hope springs eternal for Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich, and Ron Paul, but rather than hoping they will somehow just win the nomination, the math says what they really have to aim for is some kind of divided convention.

Barring some extraordinary development, Mitt Romney will certainly reach the convention in Tampa with more delegates pledged to his cause than any of the others. So all they can attempt is to keep his lead small enough that they can make an argument against a coronation.

This is kind of like hockey.

In hockey games, teams that are behind on points will often try to goad the leading team into fights. The rationale is that doing this may…a) distract the leading team, giving the losing team an opportunity to rally, b) create some penalty time for one or both teams, upsetting the chemistry on the ice which is currently in favor of the leading team, or c) a few passionate moments will create an inspirational fury in the arena which will spur the losing team into action, and put the winning team back on its heels a bit.

This strategy does not always work. To be honest, it rarely does. But despite NHL crackdowns on fighting, the idea of turning to nasty play as a means of distraction is still popular, because it can offer the only chance to push the game into a tie and overtime, where anything might happen.

Look for more of it on the Republican side, and btw, look for some of it in the general election if it is as close as many expect.

Hope all is well. Took a nice 16 mile run through Atlanta this morning. Not very fast, but the city was nice and pretty. You should have been here. You could have ridden alongside in your car. Ha!

Regards,
Tom

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