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Mitt Romney: What His Quitting Means For McCain And GOP

AP

Mitt Romney's decision to quit the Republican raceis terrific news for John McCain. It removes the challenger with both the money and the message to hurt John McCain politically, even if he couldn't win the Republican nomination for himself. An expensively broadcast attack on McCain's conservative credentials is not what the Arizona senator needs right now.

McCain does NOT, however, need the Republican race to end soon--so long as it's the right kind of Republican race. As it happens, that is the kind of race that Mike Huckabee can provide him. Two Huckabee aides tell me in fact he will remain in the race.

How can a longer primary campaign good for McCain? So long as it's civil, it keep Republicans in the news, provide a forum for McCain to continue traveling the country, and spreading his message in a relaxed, unthreatening political environment. Think of it as the heavyweight boxing champion drawing TV coverage for workouts with his sparring partner.

Mike Huckabee has so far shown neither the inclination to attack John McCain, nor the ability to expand his support significantly beyond his base of conservative Christians. That means his chances of actually taking the Republican nomination away from John McCain are much closer to none than to slim.

And why would Mike Huckabee want to run such a friendly campaign? Because he knows all this, and would like to spend the next few weeks building the case for his selection as John McCain's vice presidential nominee.

Questions? Comments? Write to politicalcapital@cnbc.com.