mccain-huckabee 2008?

Posted on January 14, 2008

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How’s that for an exciting match-up?

Two outsiders trying to get the ultimate insider positions of the country.

John McCain, the long-serving senator from Arizona, has well-established enemies in the Republican Party that would dearly love to see him fail in his bid to be the party’s nominee. They range from Gun Owners of America, American Conservative Union, conservative lobbyists and anti-tax archangel Grover Norquist, according to the Washington Post.

Two-time governor of Arkansas, Mike Huckabee, faces similar problems, though from the party’s spiritual leadership. Well-known conservative Christian leaders are withholding their blessings and endorsements for Huckabee, who is an ordained minister and readily calls himself an evangelical Christian. Top names, like Pat Robertson, have instead thrown their support behind other candidates. Robertson is rooting for Rudy Giuliani despite his murky position on abortion and Paul Weyrich would rather back a Mormon, Mitt Romney, than stand behind Huckabee.

Both McCain and Huckabee bring different attributes and attract different types of Republican voters, which could be helpful in soaking up the most diverse range of votes during the general election.

McCain is a long-time favorite of independents and younger voters, thanks to his maverick style and refusal to toe the party line. Huckabee, with his Southern Baptist minister background, folksy charm and ready wit, appeals to the working-class and evangelicals, especially younger evangelicals, who have rallied to his cause and is helping him raise money and staff his campaign as volunteers, calling themselves Huck’s Army.

The two men have also been especially cordial to each other, not just in terms of refraining from attacking each other but going as far as expressing mutual respect. Huckabee has even stuck up for McCain, criticizing Romney for his attack ads against McCain.

Could McCain and Huckabee’s people already be in talks, working out some kind of a deal? Does that involve holding fire towards each other but concentrating their energies on finishing off Romney in Michigan and South Carolina? Is Huckabee shrewd enough to be gunning for the vice-presidential position already? Realistically, Huckabee is too much of a wildcard and is unlikely to win the Republican nomination. Running as the vice-president on McCain’s ticket is a more likely scenario for him.

Others are foreseeing a tie-up between McCain and the independent senator, Joe Lieberman. In fact, Lieberman has endorsed McCain, which makes the scenario not entirely far-fetched, especially with McCain’s unpredictable and rebellious streaks. But given Huckabee’s showing in the primaries and the leverage he has gained, the McCain-Huckabee ticket seems more plausible.

Together, McCain and Huckabee could entice a broad enough combination of voters, both Republicans and independents, to be a strong pairing to compete against a strong and energized Democratic Party. Both these men will be able to stand on the platform that they are the new Republicans, interested in fighting special interests, protecting the environment and bring change to Washington while being rooted in conservatism, thus neutralizing the Democrats.

This might just appeal to Republican voters who want to deny the Democrats of the White House. They might not find a McCain-Huckabee ticket such a bad idea after all.

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