May 13, 2008

A GOP Veepstakes Aside

Marc Comtois

Many conservatives are swallowing hard and coming to accept that John McCain is the best option out there. But I wonder if that will change should Mike Huckabee become the VP choice. James Pethokoukis has the scoop:

Mike Huckabee, the former governor of Arkansas and defeated contender for the GOP presidential nomination, is currently at the top of John McCain's short list for a running mate. At least that's the word from a top McCain fundraiser and longtime Republican moneyman who has spoken to McCain's inner circle. The fundraiser is less than thrilled with the idea of Huckabee as the vice presidential nominee, and many economic conservatives—turned off by the populist tone of Huckabee's campaign and his tax record as governor—are likely to share that marked lack of enthusiasm. But here is the logic of picking Huckabee:

1) He is a great campaigner and communicator who could both shore up support in the South among social conservatives (Huckabee is a former Baptist minister) and appeal to working-class voters in the critical "Big 10" states of Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Ohio.

2) As any pollster knows, voters search for candidates who "care about people like me," and Huckabee would probably score a lot higher on that quality than millionaire investor Mitt Romney. Plus, given all the turmoil on Wall Street, 2008 would seem to be a bad year to pick a former investment banker for veep.

3) Economic conservatives and supply-siders may balk, but the threat of four years of Obamanomics and higher investment, income, and corporate taxes might be enough to keep them on board.

Let me add that a top Republican political strategist told me about a month ago that he also believed Huckabee to be the leading veep contender.

It might seem like a smart political move in the short term as explained by Pethokoukis. However, should McCain go with Huckabee, setting him up as the presumptive heir, it would signal to conservatives that McCain was attempting to change the ideological foundation--and future--of the GOP from center-right to populist-middle. (Heck, he could go with Hillary Clinton and achieve the same thing). Of course, if Huckabee is the choice, I suspect that many conservatives will throw their hands in the air and just stay at home and McCain would lose anyway. We'll see.

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So, under this plan, we would get the 72 year old fossil AND the God Squad?

Are you guys TRYING to hand the election to the Democrats?


Posted by: Greg at May 13, 2008 9:13 AM

Huckabee and Romney are both good choices for appealing to conservative voters. It will be a strong ticket no matter who gets the nod. Huckabee in particular has a personal warmth and sense of humor which would do well with the people. Romney is a very capable businessman. I am looking forward to another Republican President! Under Clinton/ Obama and Dean the Democratic party has veered too far to the left to attract the majority of American voters. Hillary has way too many negatives and a terrible record of corruption and cronyism. Obama? Sure, Obama is wide-eyed and young and dynamic, but his socialist ideas stink. And, yes, there is a racial factor. Many conservative Americans won't vote for a black man, although by pointing this out it does not necessarily mean that I share that sentiment.

Posted by: Citizen Critic at May 13, 2008 10:20 AM

Going with a moderate would be the smart play for McCain, somebody who would appeal to Hillary's supporters.
Huckabee? Who knows. Romney? The best way to get Hillary's peeps to rally behind Obama.

Posted by: rhody at May 13, 2008 11:05 AM

If McCain/Huckabee does well, Romney's over. If McCain/Huckabee flops, Romney's the 2012 nominee.

I think there's a really good chance McHuck will happen because a) they both hate Romney and b) they both want to make the party squishy

Posted by: George at May 13, 2008 11:27 AM

As a conservative Republican I won't vote for McCain under any circumstances. It'll be third party or write-in for me.

McCain's VP choice is totally irrelevant and inconsequential. After all, how much influence did George H. exert over the direction Reagan administration? Next to none.

How much influence has Dick Cheney had over George W's administration? Next to none (one doubts that Cheney would have supported earmarks without vetoes; expansion of the welfare state via the "prescription drug benefit" or last summer's McCain-sponsored amnesty effort).

The only thing that would occur if McCain wins is that RINO McCain will have chosen the presumptive Republican nominee for the next cycle. Hardly a comforting thought.

I'd rather have another chance to choose a Republican candidate in 2012, at which time we might have a chance of getting a real Republican.

Posted by: Tom W at May 13, 2008 12:26 PM

"How much influence has Dick Cheney had over George W's administration? Next to none."

Tom W, that is one of the funniest things I have ever read. Cheney and the neo-cons have been pulling "W's" strings since Inauguration Day.

Posted by: observer at May 13, 2008 1:24 PM

>>"How much influence has Dick Cheney had over George W's administration? Next to none." Tom W, that is one of the funniest things I have ever read. Cheney and the neo-cons have been pulling "W's" strings since Inauguration Day.

The George W as a puppet scenario is one of those urban myths popular in the "progressive" theme park known as RI Future.

It is a standard part of the liberal repertoire: they assume (presume) that the more conservative the President, the lower their IQ. Thus the leftist rants during the Reagan administration that he was a "dunce" and that his aides made all decisions. Like virtually all "progressive" assertions, with the passage of time this was proven to be grossly incorrect.

Posted by: Tom W at May 13, 2008 1:57 PM

Tom W.

You're right, I misstated the situation. Actually Cheney has been pulling the strings since before Inauguration Day. It started when Cheney (after personally conducting an exhaustive search of all possible VP candidates like McCain, Ridge,Gingrich, etc.) reported back to "W" that he, Dick Cheney, was the best choice for the country. I think that history will show that this was the seminal tragedy of the "W" administration, not that he was a puppet, or that he was incapable of being a good president. He actually might have been quite a good president had he been the compassionate conservative small government man he ran as. Let's keep this discussion on Cheney/Bush. I certainly never suggested that Reagan was a dunce.

Posted by: observer at May 13, 2008 3:27 PM

I can't resist posting this link and stirring the pot. Cindy Adams and the NY POST--yah, I know. But you have to admit, it's timely.
Hollywwod will probably give Brolin the Oscar if he makes "W" look bad enough. Well he does have better taste in women (Diane Lane)than he does in stepmothers.

Posted by: observer at May 13, 2008 9:36 PM

Cheney spent the past few days running around Mississippi trying to tie as conservative a candidate as the Dems will offer to Obama in a House special election.
To put it mildly, that dog didn't hunt. The GOP loses about as red a congressional district as there is.

Posted by: rhody at May 14, 2008 12:43 AM
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