Last week, the on-line activists who constitute Huck’s Army were issuing demands to John McCain and the GOP that Mike Huckabee either had to be named the vice presidential candidate or given the keynote speaking slot at the convention.
Mark Halperin set off tremors in the political world last night by reporting via two Republicans that John McCain had settled on Mitt Romney to be his running mate.
Top sources in McCainworld, though, say this morning that no final decision has been made.
There are mixed signals at this point, as to whether Romney has emerged as the favorite.
That seems to be the “body language” from the small group of aides who McCain is consulting on the decision, a GOP source says.
And that interpretation was reinforced when word spread among Romney loyalists last night that the vice-presidential roll-out tour included Michigan.
It is hard to overstate how insulting this would be to those who backed Huckabee in the primary. It is widely believed that Huckabee played a key role in sinking Romney’s own presidential aspirations by thwarting his efforts to consolidate the support of the right-wing establishment and serving as McCain’s attack dog, with members of his campaign team starting anti-Romney front groups and constantly harping on Romney’s Mormon faith. The animosity between the two camps came to a head when Romney bought off the vote at the Values Voter Summit, which Huckabee rightly won.
Back in January, Joe Carter, who ran Huckabee’s research operations early on, explained the campaign’s hatred for Romney:
[W]hat will destroy Romney’s chances is that he will lie about an issue, know that he is lying, know that you know he is lying, and say it anyway. It’s not just that he’s dishonest. It’s that he thinks we’re stupid … the reason that Romney’s dishonest campaign tactics have helped him in the short run is that most people have yet to realize–as have the other campaigns and the mainstream media–he is a liar. But eventually the public catches on … Supporters of Romney will no doubt be offended by my criticism. I could counter that I’m offended that conservatives are backing a man that, until recently, was just another Massachusetts liberal. Instead I’ll just hold my tongue and wait for Romney’s campaign to implode. His “lie and buy” strategy may get him a narrow victory in Iowa but he’ll flame out soon enough.
In the months since Huckabee dropped his own presidential bid, he’s been anything but subtle about the fact that he’d love to be McCain’s VP and his supporters have gone all out to echo that point and make clear that Romney is utterly unacceptable.
For McCain to choose Romney over Huckabee after Huckabee’s own campaign was instrumental in helping McCain secure the nomination by taking down Romney, his biggest competition, would be the ultimate insult to Huckabee’s still rabid supporters – and this would only make things worse:
Making matters more confusing, Politico has learned that McCain will visit suburban St. Louis for a major rally with Romney and his still-bitter primary nemesis Mike Huckabee on Sunday, August 31st, the day before the start of the GOP convention.
It would take a considerable act of pride-swallowing for Huckabee to stand before thousands of fans and watch as McCain touts Romney as his running mate.