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The Lid: Why the Also-Rans Should Not be Forgotten

Welcome to The Lid, your afternoon dose of the 2016 ethos…Ted Cruz on Wednesday said the country needs a "commander-in-chief, not a Twitterer-in-chief," which begs the question: When will Americans be ready for a candidate who can tweet and lead at the same time?

'16 from 30,000

Though gone, the Republican candidates who have (or are expected to) exit the race since Iowa should not be forgotten. Maybe none of them has enough supporters up for grabs to sway the New Hampshire primary, but -- as we saw in Iowa on the Democratic side -- anything can happen. And the departures so far seem to be benefitting Ted Cruz the most. Having Mike Huckabee and (likely) Santorum out of the race helps him coalesce the evangelical wing of the party. And it helps more than just potentially gaining a few more percentage points in the polls. Each of the now ex-candidates have endorsements and infrastructure in South Carolina and Cruz could be the one those operatives turn to.

And then there's Rand Paul, who has occupied a unique lane this campaign. Republican operatives in the Granite State predicted to NBC's Hallie Jackson that the majority of Paul's infrastructure would probably end up with Cruz. Rubio and Trump are the other two most likely candidates to benefit from Paul's ground game in New Hampshire. And remember those debate clashes between Rubio and Cruz over surveillance? Well, Cruz actually comes down closer to Paul in those arguments over the NSA. But Paul's "outsidery" status could make Donald Trump an appealing alternative as well.

POPPING ON NBC POLITICS

FOR THE RECORD…

"Started out as 1 of 17 GOP Candidates, now with Rand Paul & Rick Santorum out, 1 or 9. #StillStanding"

  • Tweet from GOP presidential candidate Jim Gilmore. (And the typo is his, not ours.)

TOMORROW'S SKED

NBC News hosts an MSNBC Democratic candidate debate at the University of New Hampshire at 9:00 p.m.