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Football and the GOP race

January 16, 2008 | 12:30 am

There's an axiom within NFL circles (first related to us years ago by an ace sportswriter-turned-Hollywood type who said he heard it from Oakland Raiders' boss Al Davis): in choosing winners in the latter part of the season, go with the teams that have the most riding on the games.

So far, that would have been the best guide for betting on the Republican presidential race.

Mike Huckabee had to win the Iowa caucuses to prove he truly could play with the big boys.

John McCain had to win the New Hampshire primary to confirm that he still is a contender.

Mitt Romney had to win Tuesday's primary in Michigan to shake his also-ran label (and avoid the embarrassment of losing in his native state).

So with Saturday's South Carolina primary looming as the next big GOP showdown, who has to win?

Fred Thompson, who has been campaigning nowhere else of late.

Oh well, this is where the phrase "an exception to every rule" probably comes into play.

-- Don Frederick