Arkansas

Huckabee's Anti-Romney Crusade Marches On

Today's papers are filled with articles about Mitt Romney's presence at the Democratic Convention in Denver, suggesting that his high-profile role is something of an audition for the vice-presidential spot on John McCain's ticket.

As the Politico reports, McCain is preparing to name his running mate soon and Romney is clearly among the front-runners

So McCain seems to be applying the Woody Hayes axiom of football to politics: Two of the three things that can happen when you put the ball in the air are negative (an incompletion or an interception).

Instead, he’s likely to make the vice presidential equivalent of a handoff up the middle.

Or, in the words of a top adviser, “a solid, safe pick.”

For months, the selection of Romney had been dismissed because of one  seemingly intractable problem: McCain simply didn’t like the guy.

But according to this adviser, that has changed.

“He has really gotten to like Romney. They’ve come a long way.”

So one would think that, as the liklihood of Romney getting the nod increases, Republicans would be rallying around him - but you'd be wrong because Mike Huckabee seems bizarrely intent on slamming Romney right up until the very last minute:

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee says if John McCain selects former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney as his running mate, it eliminates what he calls "the Joe Biden issue" for Republicans.

"During the primary, Romney attacked McCain. He attacked me," the one-time presidential hopeful said today on Rush Limbaugh's radio show. "One of the problems McCain would have if he picked Romney was that it takes the Joe Biden issue off the table where Biden is saying great things about McCain and terrible things about Obama. They'll be running those tapes back over and over during the debates when Romney was attacking McCain and saying, 'Which time do we trust you? Then or now?'"

Limbaugh responded he didn't think the primary infighting among Republicans would make much of a difference in the general election.

"That's true for both parties, and McCain's running ads right now featuring Hillary endorsing him," Limbaugh said. "There is a gold mine of Hillary audio and video that McCain can make an ad of. Those things happen in primaries."

Huckabee said he would still support McCain even if Romney is selected as running mate, citing his opposition to abortion rights.

Huckabee has committed himself to doing whatever he can to help John McCain win, but has also repeatedly made clear that he really, really wants the vice-presidency and doesn't think Romney is an acceptable option.

As his own hopes seem to fade, Huckabee can't quite seem to let go of his personal animosity toward Romney or realize that constantly slamming the man who may very well become McCain's running mate is not helping the cause.

Increasing Adoptions By Limiting the Pool

The AP reports that a ballot initiative preventing “gays and lesbians from becoming foster or adoptive parents was cleared Monday to appear on this fall's ballot in Arkansas”:

The measure would prohibit unmarried couples living together from fostering or adopting children, and Arkansas doesn't allow gays to marry or recognize gay marriages conducted elsewhere.

"Arkansas needs to affirm the importance of married mothers and fathers," Family Council President Jerry Cox said. "We need to publicly affirm the gold standard of rearing children whenever we can. The state standard should be as close to that gold standard of married mom and dad homes as possible."

You’d think that banning willing gays and lesbians from becoming foster or adoptive parents would only end up shrinking the pool of those willing to raise these children in need, but you’d be wrong – according to the Family Council Action Committee, putting this on the ballot will amazingly result in even more foster and adoptive parents:

[T]he campaign to pass this act is designed to increase the number of families willing to adopt or serve as foster parents. By circulating petitions in churches and elsewhere, we will spend the next several months highlighting the need for more foster and adoptive homes. We’ve published a book entitled, Adoption and Foster Care in Arkansas. Volunteers in this campaign will not only be circulating petitions, but they will be encouraging families to consider adopting a child or becoming a foster parent. Overall, we expect this effort to increase the number of foster care and adoptive homes in Arkansas.

Presumably, the Family Council thinks that “traditional” couples will suddenly start clamoring to take these children once they’ve ensured that they gays can’t have them.  And, if not, it’s just as well that the kids remain safely in the care of the state rather than being “used to promote the social or political agenda of any special interest group.” 

 In short, the effort nails the trifecta:

This act protects the welfare of children, it blunts a homosexual agenda, and it encourages more people to adopt children or serve as foster parents. That’s what this act does. Anyone who tries to tell you anything less isn’t telling the whole story.

Will McCain Poke The Right in the Eye?

Ezra Klein predicts that John McCain will choose Joe Lieberman as his running mate and explains his reasoning:

For the Republicans, however, 2008 can't be [about] mobilization. Their half is too small. Their brand is too damaged. And they recognized that when they chose John McCain -- who's not a base mobilizing evangelical conservative anyway -- as their nominee … [Lieberman] lets McCain telegraph an ideological ambiguity and shift towards a policy agenda that's about process, about "reaching across party lines and getting things done," rather than about sops to the conservative base.

That may very well be true, but for this strategy to work one has to assume that the McCain camp would be willing to sacrifice nearly the entire Religious Right base in an effort to win support of moderates and independents because, as the Right has made abundantly clear, their now tepid support for McCain hinges almost entirely on his choice of running mate.  

Just last week, we were noting how the Right was nearly unanimous in their opposition to Lieberman and that, while they were just starting to warm up to McCain, their efforts at mobilizing their grassroots activists on his behalf came to a screeching halt when he suggested that he was open to the idea of naming a pro-choice running mate.  

Right-wing activists have been battling one another over whom best fills the McCain campaign’s need to appease the base for weeks now, a battle that continues even to this day:

Among those doing some soul-searching this week is Betty Kanavel, who lives in the tiny Monroe County town of Ida and will vote for no one who isn't anti-abortion. She would like McCain to pick Mike Huckabee, the charismatic preacher and former Arkansas governor who finished third in Michigan's primary.

The 56-year-old Kanavel, who works part-time at her church, also is concerned over Romney's religion.

"I probably shouldn't go there, but I will anyway: The Mormon religion is totally not the Bible," Kanavel said, adding: "It's very hard, but if he's the choice, OK. He is a good man."

But this is a debate that has raged over Mike Huckabee vs. Mitt Romney and is rooted in the fact that both are, at least nominally, pro-life.  Lieberman, for all his faults, is ostensibly pro-choice - a fact that will not be easily glossed over by the Religious Right: 

Let us be clear on this. Our values and our respect for the Constitution make clear that women must have the right to choose—and we will continue to fight for that right

When McCain floated the idea of a pro-choice running mate a few weeks ago, the Right went completely off the rails and leaders like Richard Land have been taking every opportunity to make absolutely clear just what such a decision would mean to McCain's campaign: 

If he picks a pro-life running mate, it will really cement evangelical support. If he picks a pro-choice running mate it will give oxygen to all those doubts, and deflate the momentum that has been building.

As James Dobson explained last month when he announced that he was changing his position from “never” to “maybe” on McCain, his support hinged in large part on McCain’s choice of running mate:

I don't even know who his vice-presidential candidate will be. You know he could very well choose a pro-abortion candidate and it would not be unlike him to do that because he seems to enjoy a frustrating conservatives on occasions. But as of this moment, I have to take into account the fact that Senator John McCain has voted pro-life
consistently and that's a fact.

In case that wasn’t clear enough, FOF’s Tom Minnery recently told the San Francisco Chronicle that Dobson is essentially waiting to see who McCain picks before officially endorsing him:

"Admittedly, for a lot of us, McCain is an acquired taste," said Tom Minnery, who leads the government and public policy division for Focus on the Family.

But if McCain chooses a strong social conservative for his running mate, Focus on the Family's leader, James Dobson - whose conservative radio broadcasts are heard by 200 million people worldwide - could endorse him.

"We'll wait to see who his vice president is before embracing him," Minnery said.

If the McCain campaign decides that a pro-choice running mate is what the campaign needs, it’ll be because it has concluded that he can with without the Right or, more likely, that the Right will put aside its principles because they have no alternative but to support the campaign regardless of his running mate.  But the Right is in no mood to be insulted in this manner.  As it stands now, McCain’s support from the right-wing base is tenuous at best and will likely collapse completely were he to fill out his ticket with a pro-choice candidate.

As Dobson explained it, McCain has a history of going “out of his way to stick his thumb in the eyes” of the Religious Right – and choosing a pro-choice running mate would be the ultimate poke in the eye to the Right; one that would make it nearly impossible for them to support him.

Huck Will Take VP, But Nothing Else

While Mike Huckabee’s supporters are busy threatening mutiny unless their candidate gets the nod as John McCain’s running mate and launching a seemingly endless parade of anti-Mitt Romney efforts, Huckabee himself as been a most loyal of soldiers, saying that his sole goal is to do whatever is most helpful to McCain and that “this isn't about me anymore. It's really about John McCain and winning.”

And if what McCain decides is most helpful to him would be to name him as his vice presidential candidate, then that would be just swell with Huckabee:

Mike Huckabee on Tuesday said he has not been approached by John McCain about being the U.S. presidential candidate's running mate. But he'd certainly consider the offer.

Huckabee said he didn't think anyone who has run for the U.S. presidency would turn down a chance to be vice president. The former Arkansas governor dropped out of the presidential race last March after McCain clinched the Republican nomination.

Speaking to reporters in Jerusalem, Huckabee said he has received "no indication" that McCain is considering him as a running mate. But if asked, Huckabee said it would be hard to resist.

"I don't think anybody that runs for president turns around and says no," he said.

Huck’s Army Falls Back In Line

Last week, we reported that the on-line activists who constitute Huck’s Army were warning that they would not support John McCain if Mike Huckabee was not named his running mate or at least chosen to deliver the keynote address at the upcoming convention.  

While Huckabee obviously can’t control what his on-line supporters do, that doesn’t mean he can’t undercut them:

Huckabee said he assumes he will be asked to speak during the convention, but didn't know whether he'd be a major player in the GOP's quadrennial pep rally.

"My goal right now at the convention would be to be the most helpful I can be to Sen. McCain," Huckabee said. "Whether that's visible or invisible, that's something he's got to decide, not me."

His schedule will include a couple performances with his Arkansas-based rock band and a conference on obesity. Huckabee also will join the Creative Coalition for a news conference on the importance of music and art education in schools.

"What I want to do is help not just Sen. McCain, but my party and my country," he said, adding, "This isn't about me anymore. It's really about John McCain and winning."

And predictably, the activists behind Huck’s Army have now sent out a clarifying email saying that the previous message was not the official position of the group:

The message that went out to our forum members today is not the official position of HucksArmy and was a communication from a few of our members who were concerned by some dismissive treatment toward supporters of conservative cultural values.

Many of our members and leaders consider the earlier statement overly harsh and demanding. Understand that any directives that HucksArmy sends out is not a command but an option.

HucksArmy is a community and not an organization and so we rarely issue statements representing the whole of our community.

HucksArmy as a whole is not demanding that Huckabee be the VP or be given a keynote at convention or else. While we would love to see these things happen, we do not have any official demands as a collective group.

But just because Huckabee and his supporters are playing nice, that still doesn't mean they've given up their almost militant opposition to Mitt Romney:

Bauer said he personally believes that Romney "would be a great running mate" and said he has conveyed that message personally to Romney. Bauer, chairman of the Campaign for Working Families political action committee, said he was not allowed to say whether he advised McCain to pick Romney.

Bauer said that he recently conducted an unscientific poll among activists about who should be picked for vice president and said that Romney won a plurality of votes. He said that "it was notable" that among those who backed Huckabee, "many of them said negative things about Governor Romney."

In fact, a battle between Huckabee and Romey supporters continues to unfold in Michigan:

In a blistering e-mail Friday to Michigan Republicans, a former aide to Mitt Romney's presidential campaign accused Michigan social conservative activist and Mike Huckabee supporter Gary Glenn of "a vicious smear campaign" against Romney.

Katie Packer, the strategist for Romney's successful Michigan primary campaign, accused Glenn, the head of the American Family Association of Michigan, of distorting Romney's record on social issues and "declaring war on other members of the Republican party."

Glenn, in an e-mail to The Detroit News, responded with a list of criticisms of Romney's record on social issues. "If Katie wants to have another full-fledged public debate about Mitt Romney's pro-abortion, pro-homosexual record, now is an excellent time," he wrote.

Who’s McCain Meeting in Michigan?

The Detroit News reports that John McCain is set to meet with “10 social conservative activists and religious leaders from around Michigan” on Wednesday, though the stop does not appear on his schedule of events and the names are not being released.  

Meanwhile, Marlys Popma, the campaign’s director of evangelical outreach, is scheduled to join former Mike Huckabee supporters to be told, once again, that he had better not pick Mitt Romney as a running mate:

McCain's vice presidential selection is likely to be a major topic at both meetings. Matney said Huckabee supporters want the former Arkansas governor on the ticket; failing that, she said, many would oppose Romney. While the Michigan native and former Massachusetts governor got significant support from many conservatives during his primary campaign, others say they are suspicious of his relatively recent move to social conservative positions on issues such as abortion and gay marriage.

Some Huckabee supporters will not back McCain if Romney is on the ticket, Matney said. "That's not the sentiment of everybody," she said. "(But) we would certainly rather have somebody other than Romney on the ticket. Who he chooses will speak volumes to us."

The Saginaw meeting also will include supporters of the so-called "Fair Tax," a proposal Huckabee embraced during his primary campaign. It would eliminate income taxes in favor of a flat-rate sales tax.

It was unclear Monday exactly who McCain himself would meet with and where.

One person familiar with the planning, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the meeting, said arrangements could change, but that the meeting would involve about 10 social conservative activists. Again, opposition to Romney was likely to be among the topics, this person said.

Huckabee: I'd Rather Be On TV Than Serve in Government

Mike Huckabee recently sat down with the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette to discuss the current state of politics and his emerging television stardom.  During the course of the conversation, Huckabee weighed in on a variety of topics: proclaiming that if Fred Thompson had not entered the race, he would have won the South Carolina primary and would be the GOP nominee today; reiterating that he has no reason to think that he’ll be John McCain’s running mate; asserting that “it would be beyond imagination if I didn’t get a prime speaking spot” at the GOP Convention; and declaring that there is “no way” that he’ll take a position with the administration if McCain wins:

If McCain wins and offers you a position in his administration, would you consider it ?

No. No way.

Why ?

Why would I want to do that ? What possible reason ? I’m gonna have a good life out here in the private sector. Why would I go back to telling everybody in the world how much money I make and being limited to what I can make and living in a very expensive city and barely surviving to have some obscure Cabinet post and have some 20-year-old from the White House telling me what I’m gonna do ? Thanks but no thanks. I have better things to do with my life.

Of course Huckabee can't be bothered to serve in government ... not when he’s got a television program in the works:

The week after our interview, Huckabee was scheduled to fly to New York to shoot a pilot for his new TV show this fall on FOX. His new book about the campaign, Do the Right Thing, is to hit stores on November 17 th. He had just returned from a business trip to Japan, while a trip to Rwanda with other politicos loomed. Oh, and he would also be subbing on the radio for Paul Harvey during his stint in Manhattan.

First, the TV bit. It seems such a natural as to be a stereotype. Huck TV. What else but ? Mike Huckabee is to radio, television, Internet, YouTube, multi-media and anything involving a microphone-and-camera as leaves are to trees. Sometimes it’s hard to tell where one ends and the other begins.

Of his show, Huckabee offers only generalities: “I can say it’s gonna be unlike anything else that’s on FOX and maybe on cable.” When asked if it’s a talk show, Huckabee says, “yes and no. Not a talk show like you’ve seen. We’ll have a live studio audience and some very innovative features.” But surely it’ll be about politics, right ?

“Politics will be a part of it, but it certainly won’t be all of it,” Huckabee says. “I mean, what isn’t politics a part of now ? There are entertainment shows that have a political overtone. I think this may be a political show that has an entertainment overtone.” Images of the Howard Cosell variety hour come frighteningly to mind in the worst-case, fish-out-of-water scenario. In the best case, a conservative version of Jon Stewart without the snarkiness. Regardless, it’s hard to imagine any show that could be unlike anything on cable. What hasn’t been done, you know ?

Here’s a possible clue: One of the producers working with Huckabee is a man named Woody Fraser, who was the original producer of the Mike Douglas Show and Good Morning America.

The Call Gets Political

When we wrote about The Call a few weeks ago, we noted that their mission claims to be less about politics and more about “fasting and prayer for the benefit of the nation.” Of course, such claims are somewhat undermined by the fact that they tend to hold events in Washington, DC just before presidential elections.  

We also noted that, prior to the event, Tony Perkins, Mike Huckabee, and others were scheduled to join The Call’s founder Lou Engle for a press conference – one that seems designed to be openly political and to counter the joint John McCain-Barack Obama event at Rick Warren’s Saddleback Church:

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee (R) and top evangelical leaders will join forces next week to amplify issues such as abortion, same-sex marriage and stem-cell research in the race for the White House.

Huckabee, Family Research Council President Tony Perkins, and Lou Engle, the leader of The Call, a young adult movement, plan to hold a news conference Friday calling on Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Barack Obama (D-Ill.) to spend more time talking about issues that matter to evangelical voters.

According to Engle, the goal of the event is to “drive the issue of abortion like a wedge into the soul of the nation” and the focus of the press conference seems to be to put added pressure on McCain to pick a suitable running mate, start pushing their issues, and overall alleviate their concerns about him: 

Evangelical leaders are urging McCain, a lifelong opponent of abortion rights, to commit to pushing a constitutional amendment on gay marriage. Social conservative leaders also want him to take a firm position on banning federal funding for stem-cell research.

“I don’t trust John McCain,” Engle said.

McCain’s pledge to appoint strong anti-abortion judges like Supreme Court Justices John Roberts and Samuel Alito does nothing to alleviate Engle’s worries.

“Ronald Reagan promised that and he gave us some of the worst judges we have today,” he said.

The Huckabee Fan Club Says “It’s Us or Them”

Just last week we were noting that the recent surge of support among Religious Right leaders for John McCain seemed to hinge largely on his willingness to follow their advice and name Mike Huckabee as his running mate.  But as decision-time nears and the campaign begins airing lists of candidates which don’t include Huckabee, these right-wing leaders sprung into action to, once again, make their opposition known to Mitt Romney, the presumed front-runner:   

Prominent evangelical leaders are warning Sen. John McCain against picking former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney as his running mate, saying their troops will abandon the Republican ticket on Election Day if that happens.

They say Mr. Romney lacks trust on issues such as outlawing abortion and opposing same-sex marriage and because he is a Mormon. Opposition is particularly powerful among those who supported former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee in the Republican presidential primaries earlier this year.

"McCain and Romney would be like oil and water," said evangelical novelist Tim LaHaye, who supported Mr. Huckabee. "We aren't against Mormonism, but Romney is not a thoroughgoing evangelical and his flip-flopping on issues is understandable in a liberal state like Massachusetts, but our people won't understand that."

David Barton, a former vice president of the Republican Party of Texas, said, "The key for Mr. McCain is to pick someone who opposes abortion but doesn't alienate any part of the general Republican voting coalition" as Mr. Romney does.

Longtime social-conservative leaders such as Phyllis Schlafly, Phil Burress, Donald P. Hodel and Mathew Staver said earlier this month that they can rally their voters around Mr. McCain largely on the issues of abortion and the judiciary, as long as they are confident that the vice-presidential candidate is pro-life. They are skeptical about Mr. Romney's views.

Mr. Barton, founder of the national pro-life group WallBuilders, said the downside for picking either Mr. Romney or Mr. Huckabee is that evangelicals still would vote for Mr. McCain on Nov. 4 - given the alternative of Mr. Obama - but not work as hard organizing and getting out the vote.

"Romney would bring to the ticket as much enthusiasm from supporters as Huckabee would bring, but Romney's would be from fiscal conservatives and Huckabee's would be evangelicals," he said.

Of course, Barton and just about every other person mentioned in this article just so happened to sign on to the Colorado letter that essentially warned McCain that he’d better pick Huckabee or else, so it is not as if they are disinterested observers. 

Barton’s suggestion that Romney would generate a lot of excitement among fiscal conservatives is a little suspect given that the best that organizations like Club for Growth could say about him was that they were “reasonably optimistic that [he] would generally advocate a pro-growth agenda."  It’s laughable to think that Romney would match among fiscal conservatives the rabid enthusiasm that Huckabee has had throughout the process from Religious Right leaders.    

Even so, what Barton and the other Religious Right leaders quoted in the article seem to be doing is daring McCain to pick a side:  us or them; bringing to a head a clash between social and fiscal conservatives that has been brewing ever since Republicans lost control of Congress back in 2006.

Only Huckabee Can Save McCain

A few weeks ago, we wrote several posts about the meeting in Colorado where a large group of right-wing leaders finally decided to support John McCain. At the time, all we had were second-hand accounts that those in attendance had decided that Barack Obama would “decimate [the] moral values” they hold dear and, as such, collectively decided to support McCain as the lesser of two evils. Glossed over in the press coverage was the fact that their support for McCain seemed to rest heavily on his choice of candidate for Vice President, with those in attendance making their preference known that they really want him to pick Mike Huckabee:
Those in attendance also reached a consensus that they would send a letter to McCain, R-Ariz., encouraging him to consider former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee as his choice for vice president. "It's not a demand; it's a request," said [Mat] Staver, who couldn't say when McCain would be contacted about Huckabee, a former Southern Baptist pastor who resonated with some evangelical voters during the Republican primaries.
Until now, the content and signatories of that letter remained unknown. But recently Clark Vandeventer, founder and CEO of World Changers, Inc, who reportedly attended the meeting and signed the letter, posted it on a blog called Veritas Rex and it seems clear that they were not so much “requesting” that McCain pick Huckabee as his Vice President as outright warning him that doing so is “necessary for [his] success”:
We believe that a pro-life, pro-family Vice Presidential running mate is critical to confirm to our constituents that you will take affirmative steps to protect these values. Your selection of a pro-life, pro-family running mate will be one of the first and most important opportunities to communicate your commitment to such values, since we believe that personnel is policy. As citizens who love this country and as leaders who communicate collectively with millions of values voters, we met this week in Denver to discuss our shared moral values and the need to support your campaign. As a sincere expression of what we believe is necessary for your success, we strongly agreed to respectfully urge you to select former Governor Mike Huckabee as your running mate. We believe putting Gov. Huckabee on your ticket will immediately excite, mobilize, and activate a key grassroots constituency that is essential to your success and the advancement and defense of the values we share. We have heard this message so clearly and consistently from our constituencies that we believe it is our duty to respectfully share it with you -- not as a demand or condition of our support -- but as an honest communication of what we believe to be the surest way to immediately activate millions of social conservative voters and activists nationwide in support of your candidacy. Thank you for your consideration. Respectfully, Phil Burress, President, Citizens for Community Values Mathew Staver,Founder and Chairman, Liberty Counsel Gary Glenn, President, American Family Association of Michigan David Barton, Wall Builders Bill and Deborah Owens Clark Vandeventer, Chief Executive Officer, World Changers Inc. Kelly Shackelford, Esq., President, Liberty Legal institute John Stemberger, Florida Attorney and Pro Family Advocate Dr. Beverly LaHaye, Concerned Women for America Dr. Tim F. LaHaye, Tim LaHaye Ministries Paul E. Rondeau Rick Scarborough, President of Vision America Action Johnnie Moore
Campus Pastor, Liberty University Jim Garlow, California Pastors Rapid Response Team Steve Strang, publisher, Charisma magazine Kenneth L. Connor, Wilkes & McHugh, P.A. Clint Cline Donald E. Wildmon, Founder and Chairman, American Family Association Randy Thomasson, President
Campaign for Children and Families Rebecca Kiessling Joshua Straub, American Association of Christian Counselors Sandy Rios, President of Culture Campaign Deryl Edwards, President, Liberty Alliance Linda Harvey, Mission America Diane Gramley, President, American Family Association of Pennsylvania David N. Cutchen Micah Clark, Executive Director, American Family Association of Indiana Don McClure Alex Harris, Founder and Chairman, Huck's Army and Director, The Rebelution Brett Harris, Founder and Chairman, Huck's Army and Director, The Rebelution

Will McCain Pick Up Huckabee’s Baggage?

Last week, there was speculation swirling that John McCain was considering choosing one-time presidential rival Mike Huckabee as his vice-presidential running mate and over the weekend, Huckabee himself made it abundantly clear that he really, really wants this job:

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee said yesterday he’d like to be John McCain’s running mate.

“There’s no one I would rather be on a ticket with than John McCain,” said Huckabee, who was a stronger than expected challenger against McCain for the Republican presidential nomination.

“All during the campaign when I was his rival, not a running mate, there was no one who was more complimentary of him publicly and privately. . . . I still wanted to win, but if I couldn’t, John McCain was always the guy I would have supported and have now supported.”

The conventional wisdom is that picking Huckabee would go a long way toward helping McCain shore up the right-wing base that has been somewhat reluctant to support him, given that McCain’s own outreach to that community has little to show so far beyond the controversy generated by the endorsements of John Hagee and Rod Parsely.   

Considering that McCain’s own efforts to woo the Right have been such a disaster, it might behoove his campaign to think long and hard about bringing Huckabee on board because if he climbs aboard the Straight Talk Express, he’ll be bringing his own right-wing baggage along for the ride. 

By now, everyone is familiar with Huckabee’s 1992 statement that the government should have been quarantining those infected with HIV or his statement on the campaign trail that the US Constitution should be amended to meet “God's standards,” or his view that the role of government was to promote Jesus Christ,  so McCain ought to expect to be asked whether he agrees with those views.  He can probably also expect to get lots of grief from former supporters of Mitt Romney, who did not particularly appreciate Huckabee’s attempts to use his own Christian faith as a means of highlighting Romney’s Mormonism and thereby undermine his campaign efforts to reach out to right-wing voters.  

While the McCain camp might consider itself prepared to deal with these sorts of issues, it’ll have its work cut out when it tries to explain away the people who endorsed Huckabee … people like Janet Folger, for instance, who think that the marriage ruling in California is a sign of the End Times.   

Folger was an avid Huckabee supporter from the moment he won the Values Voter Debate which she organized and for which she hand-picked the choir that sang “Why Should God Bless America?,” after which she anointed him the "David among Jesse’s sons."  She went on to pen columns claiming that only Huckabee could prevent Hillary Clinton from throwing all Christians into prison and save her fantasy world from “evil queen and her dragon of slaughter.”  

For her efforts, she was tapped by Huckabee to serve as co-chair of his Faith and Values Coalition, so McCain can look forward to answering questions about whether he agree with her efforts to pray for bad weather to keep voter turnout down, her statements that supporting Barack Obama is like supporting Nazis, and the front-group she launched to attack both Mitt Romney and McCain himself.

And McCain can also look forward to answering questions about Rick Scarborough who, like Folger, served on Huckabee’s Faith and Family Values Coalition.  Scarborough, a self-described “Christocrat” heads Vision America and, when he’s not out palling around with Alan Keys, has a penchant for suggesting that evangelical leaders are dying off because the nation has turned its back on God, suggesting that Christians will have "the blood of martyrs on [their] hands"if they don't oppose hate crimes legislation, blaming "the church" for just standing by and allowing the election of "unrighteous leaders" in 2006, saying that opponents of the War in Iraq are committing treason, organizing conferences designed to highlight the “War on Christians and Values Voters,” and penning books entitled “Liberalism Kills Kids” among other things.

In fact, McCain and Huckabee would have a difficult time explaining away pretty much the entirely of Huckabee’s Faith and Family Values Coalition, which included dozens of right-wing activists like of Don Wildmon, Mike Farris, Mat Staver, Kelly Shackelford, and Phil Burress; not to mention Huckabee’s consorting with the likes of Tim and Beverly LaHaye and Steve Hotze, who once signed a manifesto declaring:

    • A wife may work outside the home only with her husband's consent

    • "Biblical spanking" that results in "temporary or superficial bruises or welts" should not be considered a crime

    • No doctor shall provide medical service on the Sabbath

    • All disease and disability is caused by the sin of Adam and Eve

    • Medical problems are frequently caused by personal sin

And let’s not forget Huckabee’s first job working with James Robison:

Considering that the McCain campaign chalks up the Hagee and Parsley controversy to poor vetting, presumably they intend to do a better job in the future; but if they pick Huckabee, it’ll be obvious that they haven’t learned their lesson at all.  While they may think that Huckabee’s primary contribution to the McCain effort will be his ability to bring along a rabid following of extreme right-wing supporters, allowing McCain to focus on courting the general electorate, it is possible that they will instead end up spending a lot of time trying to distance themselves from controversy such blatant pandering will inevitably generate.

Huckabee Angling for VP Slot?

While most right-wing activists who opposed John McCain in the Republican primary are falling in line with him now that his nomination is secure, there remain a few holdouts. WorldNetDaily editor Joseph Farah recently outlined the general principle guiding stragglers: “All things being equal, I'd rather watch the Democrats destroy America for the next four years, holding out hope that a new kind of Republican leadership might arise to fight back in 2012.”

Mike Huckabee is not one of these holdouts. Or is he?

In his most recent column, Robert Novak suggests that Mike Huckabee and his supporters, despite their announcements of support for John McCain, are secretly hoping that McCain loses in November so that Huckabee can run again in 2012:

[R]eports out of the evangelical community dispute Huckabee's support. One experienced, credible activist in Christian politics who would not let his name be used told me Huckabee in personal conversation with him embraced the concept that an Obama presidency might be what the American people deserve. That fits what has largely been a fringe position among evangelicals that the pain of an Obama presidency is in keeping with the Bible's prophecy.

Novak admits that Huckabee denies these allegations, but that didn't stop him from writing his column anyway, which prompted Huckabee to write his own blog post on his HuckPAC website calling the anonymous sources behind Novak's column liars and challenging them to either put up or shut up:

On another note, I was very disturbed by a column by Robert Novak that quoted some “anonymous source” in saying that while I strongly supported Senator McCain, I thought that maybe America “deserves Obama,” as if to say that I secretly hoped he won.

Where do people dream up this stuff? Forget the “anonymous” sources—there’s nothing anonymous about my stand and here it is. We don’t “deserve” Obama—we DESERVE a President with the character, convictions, experience, and wisdom to see the problems we face and try to lead us to solve them. We deserve a President who truly loves this country and from whom there is no doubt as to his respect for Faith, Family, and the kind of Freedom that those before us have given their lives to pass on to us. John McCain meets that criteria and that’s why I am campaigning for him and not hoping for Obama. The nonsense that I want Obama to win this year so I can run in 2012 is absurd. I love my country more than my own ambition. So let the record and truth be clear. And let the “anonymous” sources either show the courage to stand up and be accountable for their comments or shut up and leave commentary to people who aren’t afraid of their own shadow.

Huckabee's response was certainly vehement and swift ... do you suppose this has anything to do with that?

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 Nazi Thing

Zirkle and the Nazi PartyTony Zirkle’s 15 minutes of swastika-draped fame were widely reported last month, when the Indiana congressional candidate spoke at an American Nazi Party celebration of Adolf Hitler’s birthday. Zirkle, whose campaign warns of a link between Jews and pornography, offered the comical explanation that, despite the oversize Hitler portrait and Nazi flags directly behind him, the swastika armbands of the men on either side of him, and the words “Seig Heil” on the cake, “he didn't believe the event he attended included people necessarily of the Nazi mindset, pointing out the name isn't Nazi, but Nationalist Socialist Workers Party.” The candidate was duly reviled by his opponent in the Republican primary race, as well as by everybody else, as an isolated racist crackpot.

However, the report on the matter by the right-wing WorldNetDaily—a product of the anti-Bill Clinton Arkansas Project that now hosts columnists such as Ann Coulter, Pat Buchanan, and Chuck Norris—offered an unusual twist. After reviewing the story and printing a number of random comments from other websites (a common journalistic technique at WND), the article tried to put it in a kind of context: "Other congressional candidates have raised eyebrows with their speeches, too," it stated. But its only example was a quote from Rep. Keith Ellison comparing the time after September 11, 2001, when the Bush Administration asserted new executive privileges, to the time after the burning of the Reichstag, when Hitler consolidated his powers.

While Ellison took heat for using the metaphor, there is, to put it mildly, a pretty obvious distinction between making a rhetorical comparison of your opponents' tactics to historical events in Nazi Germany, and actually forging an alliance with present-day Nazis based on apparently shared values. So why did WND choose this as its only attempt at context?

Ellison, of course, was the first Muslim member of Congress, and after his election in 2006, the Right launched an effort to portray his presence in Washington as a dire threat to the nation. WorldNetDaily offered obsessive coverage through dozens of flimsy, paranoid articles with titles such as “Doubts grow over Muslim lawmaker's loyalty” and “Muslim congressman called 'security' issue.”

Since WND is so desperate for an example of an anti-Semitic political figure, it’s fortunate that Ted Pike provided a timely reminder. Pike, head of the National Prayer Network, has been a frequent source of quotes for WND whenever the site covered proposed federal hate-crimes protections, most recently in December.

Pike is best-known, however, for pushing out anti-Semitic propaganda along with his father, a radio talker in the 1980s. As People For the American Way reported in a press release from 1989, Pike was warning that there was “a tendency toward Jewish domination of society,” that “Jewish international bankers” were behind the Bolshevik Revolution, and that the state of Israel was “the first stage in Satan’s plan to take this world from Christ and give it to the Antichrist.” Twenty years ago, Pike was warning that the Jewish motivation behind hate-crimes legislation was to silence churches; today, he warns of the “homosexual agenda.”

We were reminded of Pike—and his place as a privileged WorldNetDaily commentator—after he sent out an e-mail alert two weeks ago complaining that the Southern Poverty Law Center had cited the National Prayer Network as a hate group:

Jewish activist groups want to increasingly broaden the terms "hate" and "anti-Semitism" to include evangelicals. …

Jewish activists thus display a truly hateful intent—to harm Christians and deprive them of freedom. Such activists work to warp public and government perceptions of Christian conservatives—demonizing us as potential sources of “homophobic,” anti-Semitic bigotry and possible violence. SPLC alleges a 48 percent increase of threat from the "radical right" since 2000. Jewish attack groups such as the Anti-Defamation League of B'nai B'rith, American Civil Liberties Union, and People for the American Way, smear “homophobic” evangelicals as being part of this “threat.”

After defaming Christians as "haters," Jewish supremacists want to actually outlaw Christian political activity and evangelism. The ADL created hate crime laws that will particularly outlaw reproof of sodomy and evangelism of non-Christians, especially Jews.

(Photo: The Times of Northwest Indiana.)

Huckabee Not The Forgiving Type

A while back, we noted that Mike Huckabee had been mending fences with the likes of The Club for Growth and the Family Research Council despite the fact that the groups had been cool, if not outright hostile, to his presidential aspirations.  

While Huckabee may be trying to make nice with some of the DC powerbrokers, it doesn’t look like he is quite as forgiving of those who crossed him back in Arkansas.  

Back when his campaign was starting to pick up steam, former Republican state representative Randy Minton was among those who started showing up in the press bad-mouthing Huckabee to anyone who would listen:

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, suddenly a serious candidate for the Republican presidential nomination, is “the biggest RINO I know,” according to former state Rep. Randy Minton.

“I call (Huckabee) a pro-life, pro-gun liberal,” says Minton, who says he himself belongs to “the Re-publican wing of the Republican Party.”

Minton says he is philosophically aligned with the anti-tax Club for Growth, which has begun running political ads attacking Huckabee as “Tax Hike Mike.”

“He says he’s pro-family. If you’re raising taxes on the families of Arkansas, causing wives to go out and get jobs to make ends meet, that’s not pro-family,” Minton said.

Minton was so opposed to the prospect of a Huckabee presidency that he even traveled to Iowa, on Ron Paul’s dime, to campaign against him:

Earlier this week, a group of Arkansans went to Iowa for three days of media appearances to lobby against Huckabee. Randy Minton, a former state legislator and chairman of the conservative Eagle Forum, was one of these new Travelers. “I will be going across the state raising awareness [of Huckabee's record],” said Minton before the trip. He cited Huckabee's record of raising taxes and his liberal use of pardons as two issues he planned to discuss.

Huckabee’s campaign eventually faltered and folded and Huckabee re-emerged as the head of a new PAC and, wouldn’t you know it, now that Minton has decided to run for a House seat in Arkansas, HuckPAC has likewise decided to back his opponent:

Despite his new status as national political celebrity, Huckabee is backing Minton's opponent in a very local legislative race.

Davy Carter of Cabot is Minton's GOP opponent for the House District 48 seat in the May 20 Republican primary. Sarah Huckabee, the former governor's daughter and executive director of HuckPAC, a newly created political action committee, confirmed Friday that her father is supporting Carter, and that the PAC would be supporting him, as well.

Minton did what he could to ensure that Huckabee’s candidacy went down in defeat and it looks like Huckabee has decided to return the favor.

Huckabee: No Hard Feelings

Mike Huckabee’s decision to sign on with an entertainment talent agency might suggest he intends to take his act to late-night television, but in the meantime, he’s shoring up his political base.

First, Huckabee’s breathlessly promoted announcement was simply the formation of a PAC—pretty standard stuff for a politician. Likewise, it’s hardly a shock to hear he’s going to be campaigning for John McCain.

But it was a big surprise to see Huckabee grant a very friendly interview to the Club for Growth, an anti-tax attack group that started off early and aggressively running TV ads against Huckabee in Iowa. The candidate bit back over the last year, scandalizing conservative fusionists by calling the group “the Club for Greed.” Now, here he is chatting about vice-presidential picks for a Club for Growth web video.

And he’s scheduled to do a fundraiser for the Family Policy Institute of Washington, a state affiliate of James Dobson’s Focus on the Family. He’ll be appearing alongside Family Research Council President Tony Perkins. Dobson and Perkins were among the Religious Right “political bosses” who Huckabee felt snubbed him in favor of candidates like Mitt Romney and Fred Thompson—in fact, just a few weeks ago, Huckabee was blaming them for sinking his campaign:

Mike Huckabee can't definitively explain why he couldn't win the Republican presidential nomination, but he thinks the desire of Christian leaders to be "kingmakers," media coverage and Mother Nature all had something to do with it.

"Rank-and-file evangelicals supported me strongly, but a lot of the leadership did not," the former Arkansas governor says. "Let's face it, if you're not going to be king, the next best thing is to be the kingmaker. And if the person gets there without you, you become less relevant."

Huckabee may be looking at another presidential run in 2012, or he may try to parlay his mailing list into a career as a Religious Right “political boss” himself, but in either case, it appears he’s taking a page from McCain’s post-2000 playbook: find your enemies and suck up to them.

The Goldilocks Right Settles on a Candidate, After the Fact

It was at a Council for National Policy meeting back in September that the Goldilocks brigade of the Religious Right, led by Focus on the Family founder James Dobson, threatened to break away from the Republican Party if Rudy Giuliani won the nomination. And the CNP meeting in March was one of John McCain’s first stops after securing the GOP mantle—continuing his pandering to the fringe.

Now, Warren Cole Smith of the conservative-Christian World magazine relates a tense scene from the CNP meeting:

Michael Farris of the Home School Legal Defense Association, an early supporter of Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, chided the group for cold-shouldering his candidate until it was too late. Others, including Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council, disagreed. The meeting quickly threatened to dissolve into accusations, rebuttals, and recriminations.

Then, venerable Paul Weyrich—a founder of the Heritage Foundation, the Moral Majority, and the Council for National Policy (CNP)—raised his hand to speak. Weyrich is a man whose mortality is plain to see. A freak accident several years ago left him with a spinal injury, which ultimately led to both his legs being amputated in 2005. He now gets around in a motorized wheelchair. He is visibly paler and grayer than he was just a few years ago, a fact not lost on many of his friends in the room, some of whom had fought in the political trenches with him since the 1960s.

The room—which had been taken over by argument and side-conversations—became suddenly quiet. Weyrich, a Romney supporter and one of those Farris had chastised for not supporting Huckabee, steered his wheelchair to the front of the room and slowly turned to face his compatriots. In a voice barely above a whisper, he said, "Friends, before all of you and before almighty God, I want to say I was wrong."

In a quiet, brief, but passionate speech, Weyrich essentially confessed that he and the other leaders should have backed Huckabee, a candidate who shared their values more fully than any other candidate in a generation. He agreed with Farris that many conservative leaders had blown it. By chasing other candidates with greater visibility, they failed to see what many of their supporters in the trenches saw clearly: Huckabee was their guy.

Huckabee Gets No Love From the Right

When he was running for president, Mike Huckabee made no secret of his displeasure with the current leadership of the Religious Right, regularly chiding them for refusing to support his candidacy.  It was, at least in part, because of their glaring lack of support that Huckabee’s campaign eventually folded, forcing him to drop-out of the race and it looks as if Huckabee is not particularly prepared to let bygones be bygones:

Mike Huckabee can't definitively explain why he couldn't win the Republican presidential nomination, but he thinks the desire of Christian leaders to be "kingmakers," media coverage and Mother Nature all had something to do with it.

"Rank-and-file evangelicals supported me strongly, but a lot of the leadership did not," the former Arkansas governor says. "Let's face it, if you're not going to be king, the next best thing is to be the kingmaker. And if the person gets there without you, you become less relevant."

Religious broadcaster Pat Robertson backed Rudolph W. Giuliani; American Value President and former presidential hopeful Gary Bauer endorsed Sen. John McCain; and Family Research Council President Tony Perkins remained neutral, even as Mr. Huckabee was wowing their supporters and winning the values voter straw polls they organized.

Huckabee seems particularly galled by Religious Right’s allegations that he was weak on foreign policy issues and didn’t fully comprehend to threat posed to this country by “Islamo-fascism,” which he says was nonsense since he was the only one who really understood the true nature of the threat:

 

"I was the one person who talked about this being a theological war, not just a geopolitical war [because] it was unlike a traditional war over borders and boundaries," he says.

 

While Huckabee remains bitter over his inability to win over the Right’s current leadership, it appears as if various other right-wing outsiders are equally bitter over the prospect of having to support John McCain and are considering defecting to the Constitution Party:

[I]is 2008 the year when a third-party candidate would find some traction among those disaffected by the abortion, marriage and national security stances found in the records of the three front-runners left in the race?

Charles Lewis, national outreach director for Christian Exodus, is one of those behind the launch of the new Save America Summit website, and believes it's not only time, it's overdue.

Among those participating in this third-party-seeking Save America Summit are Flip Benham, Wiley Drake, Bill Federer, Gordon Klingenschmitt, Howard Phillips, Chris Simcox, as well as representatives of organizations such as Gun Owners of America, the Council for National Policy, and Stop the ACLU and others who are convinced that McCain, Obama, and Clinton all plan "an EU-style unification of America with socialist Canada and Mexico during the next administration."

Sadly for Huckabee, he can't seem to get any love from these right-wing activists either, since they seem to have already narrowed down their choices for president to four people: Alan Keyes, Roy Moore, Jerome Corsi, and former Sen. Bob Smith.

Slow and Steady

Slowly but surely, John McCain has been racking up endorsements from Religious Right leaders.  Aside from scoring big with the likes of John Hagee and Rod Parsely, McCain has also been securing endorsements from figures like Gary Bauer and even Janet Folger.  

At the same time, he is busy conducting outreach to many others, addressing the Council for National Policy and having some surrogates drop hints that he’d love the opportunity meet with James Dobson while sending out others to try and win over people like Tony Perkins.

And while the efforts appear to be paying off, it seems as if McCain still has a lot of work ahead of him:

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) must work hard to reach out to evangelical voters to get them “excited” about his candidacy, a leading social conservative figure said Wednesday.

Family Research Council President Tony Perkins said a number of the presumptive GOP presidential nominee’s policies and actions in the Senate have rubbed socially conservative evangelical voters the wrong way, and he will need them and their “enthusiasm” to win the White House.

“It’s not automatic,” Perkins said.

Perkins suggested several approaches McCain can take to woo a crowd that might feel dissatisfied after supporting former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and watching him drop out of the race.

McCain should “hold the Bush line” on banning federal funding for stem cell research, announce that he will appoint a “family czar” to show his commitment to families and be more vocal about his lifelong record opposing abortion rights, Perkins said.

“He’s never led on those issues, and he’s never seemed comfortable talking about those issues,” Perkins said.

But Perkins said McCain has a solid voting record on issues that are dear to socially conservative evangelical voters, and he can use that record as a “foundation” to reach out to them.

“I don’t think that that’s too big a stretch for him, but he’s going to have to work at it,” Perkins said.

Undaunted by the task head, the McCain campaign appears ready to ramp up its effort and fully intends to spend a lot of time wooing them in the months ahead:

Sen. John McCain will be spending a lot of face time in the coming months with top conservative leaders, in an effort to win them over one-by-one, top McCain strategist Charlie Black tells Newsmax.

“You have to go get the conservative leaders who have a following one at a time. [McCain] has been doing for several months, and has some very prominent conservatives on board now… We’re taking them one at a time,” Black told Newsmax this week.

Huckabee Hopes To Lure McCain With Debate

For the last few days, Mike Huckabee has been trying to pressure John McCain into one last debate as he tries to make one last stand in the Republican primary, going so far as to officially challenge McCain to a “Lincoln Douglas-style debate":

“Now that the race for the Republican nomination is down to just the two of us, I believe this is the time for a real discussion about our vision for the future of this great country,” Huckabee wrote in the letter to Sen. McCain.  “I encourage you to join me in a Lincoln Douglas-style debate so that voters can better understand our views on critical issues such as health care, education, energy independence, terrorism and national security.”

When McCain said that wasn’t going to happen, Huckabee upped the pressure, announcing that he had agreed to participate in a “Values Voter Presidential Debate” next week, provided that McCain joined him:

Former Arkansas Governor and Presidential Candidate Mike Huckabee accepted an invitation to participate in a Values Voter Presidential Debate to be held on Monday, March 3, 2008.  Huckabee received the invitation on Wednesday, February 27, for the debate which would also include Senator John McCain, Congressman Ron Paul. [sic]

"I look forward to discussing the issues that are important to the people of America such as health care, education, energy independence, terrorism and national security," Huckabee wrote in his letter of acceptance.  "I will clear my schedule to make time for this important debate, provided Sen. McCain participates, otherwise we will keep our current campaign schedule."

On Tuesday, Huckabee challenged Sen. McCain to a Lincoln- Douglas Style debate, but has yet to receive an acceptance from Sen. McCain.

The Values Voter debate is scheduled to be held at the Marriott Riverwalk, 711 E. Riverwalk St. in San Antonio, Tex.

Will McCain take the bait?  Not if he is smart. 

So far, the only mention of this “Values Voter Presidential Debate” is contained in Huckabee’s press release, but it is presumably being organized by the same people who put on the last Values Voter Presidential Debate, which in many ways catapulted Huckabee from a second-tier no-name into a serious candidate, thanks mainly to the fact that all the actual front-runners refused to appear.

Of course, that didn’t stop the bevy of right-wing activists from criticizing the no-shows, McCain included, via pointed questions addressed to empty podiums:

The entire debate was the brainchild of Janet Folger, who personally invited the choir that performed their infamous rendition of “Why Should God Bless America?” and has since gone on to serve as co-chair of Huckabee’s Faith and Family Values Coalition.  Recently, she’s been traveling with his campaign in Ohio, introducing him at events and praying that a blizzard strikes the state in order to depress turnout of McCain supporters.  In between these official campaign duties, Folger has also been busy working with her front-group, RoeGone.org, producing ads blasting McCain.  

It is no wonder that Huckabee would eagerly jump at the chance to participate in one last debate, especially one organized by one of his most vocal supporters and his rival’s most vocal critics.  But why Huckabee thinks McCain would be willing to walk into such an ambush completely defies explanation.  

Huckabee’s Last Stand

While Mike Huckabee prepares for what may be his final stand in Texas, John McCain continues to make in-roads with some of the Religious Right leaders who purport to represent the values that Huckabee seeks to give voice to.

For instance, McCain recently received the endorsement of Lou Sheldon of the Traditional Values Coalition, a one-time Romney backer, is getting advice from one-time Fred Thompson supporter Richard Land, and has Sen. Sam Brownback out there wooing others on his behalf:

Brownback said his task remains crucial, even as the departure of other contenders has cleared the way for McCain to become the Republican party’s nominee. Many evangelical voters are still attracted to former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and McCain cannot risk alienating a group that makes up about a third of the conservative voter base.

Earlier this month, Brownback met with Gary Bauer after the conservative Christian power broker endorsed McCain to discuss “what else might be done” to help McCain with social conservatives. He’s also had similar conversations with Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, and Frank Pavone, head of the anti-abortion group Priests for Life.  

But that doesn’t mean that Huckabee is willing to throw in the towel or go quietly.  In fact, he seems to be making a last-ditch effort to highlight what he perceives as the key difference between himself and McCain by comparing abortion to slavery after meeting with James Dobson, throwing his support behind Colorado’s “egg as a person” constitutional Human Life Amendment, and daring McCain to debate him on the issues.

And while Huckabee is busy getting pastors involved in his efforts in Texas, he’s also campaigning in Ohio where he is being introduced by Janet Folger, who continues to release anti-McCain ads via her “RoeGone.org” front group (or, as her website mistakenly spells it, “John McCaine.”)  

For her part, Folger has picked up on Huckabee’s hope for a brokered convention by saying that “Gov. Mike Huckabee doesn't need to reach 1,191 delegates to win the nomination – all he has to do is keep John McCain from doing so.”  In fact, a brokered convention seems to be becoming the Huckabee campaign’s main goal

Huckabee's press secretary Alice Stewart said he is in the race for the long haul. "The race isn't over until someone receives 1,191 delegates, and no one has received that yet," Stewart said. "If he were to drop out he would basically be telling all those people in Ohio, Texas, Rhode Island, North Carolina and all the states that haven't had their primaries or caucuses yet that their votes don't matter. It's certainly possible to bring this all the way to a brokered convention and have it decided in Minneapolis."

According to a CNN news scorecard McCain has 971 delegates, Mitt Romney — who dropped out of the race — holds 286 delegates, Huckabee has 233 and Ron Paul holds 16 delegates. As of Feb. 19, the report showed 1,506 Republican delegates have declared their presidential preference, which leaves 874 up for grabs.

Lori Viars, a Warren County delegate and Huckabee supporter, said she likes her man's chances at a convention showdown because she believes delegates who currently support Romney will cross over to Huckabee.

While it is understandable that at this point in the primaries, the Huckabee campaign would have little choice but to pin its hopes on simply preventing McCain from securing the required number of delegates, what makes them think that, were they to head into Minneapolis, a brokered GOP convention would choose Huckabee as the nominee?  

After all, if Huckabee was popular enough among the GOP insiders who make up the convention, he wouldn’t have had to run his entire campaign whining about why they won’t support him and complaining about conspiracies.  In fact, if Huckabee could win the support of the Republican Party’s rank-and-file, he wouldn’t be getting crushed in the delegate count in the first place.  

And considering that Huckabee served as the chief anti-Romney attack dog, it is highly unlikely that his delegates at the convention would suddenly decide to support the one candidate whose primary role in the race seemed to be to undermine Romney’s electoral chances at every turn.

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