With Mitt Romney having left the race, some in the party are urging Mike Huckabee to follow suit. Huckabee poses no threat to John McCain’s nomination prospects, nor is he attacking McCain in any serious way. However, his ability to compete with McCain, and indeed to defeat him in a number of states, represents an embarrassing reminder of the Senator’s limited popularity with conservatives.
But that’s no reason why Huckabee should withdraw. Unlike, say, John Edwards, Huckabee is the darling of sizeable faction of his party and this status has propelled him to victory on a number of occasions.
More to the point, this run is Huckabee’s spin of the wheel of fortune. The day the needle passed “go back to Arkansas empty handed” he was the winner, but he can reasonably believe that his total winnings have not been determined. With every victory, Huckabee enhances his claim as a major force within the party and, perhaps, his claim as a credible candidate for vice president.
But while Huckabee’s judgment is unerring when the issue is his main chance, he seems a bit clueless on other matters. Thus, he tells Newsweek’s Howard Fineman:
I honestly don’t understand [why conservative talk show hosts favored Romney], because my record on conservative issues is truly unblemished. I think most of it had to do with their perception that, No. 1, I wasn’t part of the establishment and, No. 2, I would never be able to raise enough money to compete.
Huckabee apparently does not count as blemishes a net tax increase of half a billion dollars, college scholarships for illegal aliens, mass clemency, and a series of Carteresque foreign policy pronouncements, including advocacy of an end to the economic boycott of Cuba.