Sunday, December 23, 2007

Can Mike Huckabee Go the Distance?

Over the past month or so the nation's pundits, broadcasters, and editorialists have been broad-sided by the sudden rise in popularity among grass-roots Republican voters of former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee.

Question really should be, why is this such a surprise to them? For months, Republican voters have been telling anyone who will listen to them that while President Bush was the best choice in '00 and '04, he has generally been a disappointment, and it is these voters who have kept the President's approval ratings low in recent years.

Why has the President been a disappointment? Is it because of his handling of the War on Terror? Hardly. That is just one of the many reasons that Dems hate the man, but has little or nothing to do with Republican dissent. We on the right support the President's measures in that regard, which we understand have helped to keep our nation safe since 9/11.

What we Republicans have been shouting from the mountaintops is that we are completely dissatisifed with the outrageous spending policies in Washington, which are way out of control, and which the President has done nothing to help control with vetoes or leadership.


We are disappointed with the failure to take seriously the control of our southern border, and to tighten up the problem of illegal immigration. Also, the obvious signs pointing to a North American Union that will inevitably erode our national sovereignty. Republicans are generally not stupid or naive. We know what is going on, and we don't like it.

The one area that the President gets strong support from Republicans on besides the war handling is his Supreme Court nominees. Both John Roberts and Sam Alito were outstanding appointments, although the party base had to rise up in order to get Alito, after the President's original poor nomination of Harriet Myers.

What Mike Huckabee represents for many Republicans is a departure from the slick, establishment, back-slapping, good 'ol boy network. Mike Huckabee is an unashamed Christian, and if any Republican nominee fails to recognize the importance of morality to the base they will be swamped under.

It is one reason that I believe, in the end, Rudy Giuliani has no chance to win.Giuliani continues to lead in most major polls of national Republican voters. In the FoxNews polls, Rudy leads Huckabee and John McCain by a 20% to 19% margin for each of those followers.

In the Reuters/Zogby poll, it's by a 23-22 margin over Huckabee. USA Today/Gallup have Rudy with the biggest margin by far, a 27-16 lead over Huckabee. Giuliani is tied with Mitt Romney at 20-20 in the Wall Street Journal/NBC poll, with Huckabee at 17. Huckabee actually leads the Rasmussen poll at 20-17 over Rudy.

All of this strength in support for Huckabee has happened in a short time. Just a couple of months ago, Mike Huckabee was polling in the single digits across the board. So what has happened, and can Huckabee keep up and improve on this surge?

It happened because Giuliani is what he is, as is John McCain. These guys have been around in the public eye for a long time, and their base supporters are who they are. Both men are finding it very difficult to expand from that base.

Mitt Romney is solid considering he started from behind in the national consciousness, and his strong financial picture and likeability make him a real contender to rise further. None of the other candidates have gained any traction, notably conservative Fred Thompson.

Mike Huckabee has stayed on-message, that he will be a strong, morale leader in a time where many conservative Americans and Republicans in general feel their faith and their values being left behind by politicians, the media in general, and the former mainstream press.

So while many Republican pundits continue to toss bombs at him, thinking that he cannot win in the general election against powerhouse candidates like Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama, they may be missing the real point. There is a serious reason why Huckabee has risen as an option, and if none of the other candidates seriously show that they also meet those requirements, Huckabee may remain as a serious contender.

There is really no reason to believe that Mike Huckabee cannot be to the Republicans in 2008 what Bill Clinton was to the Dems just 15 years ago. Think back to the fall of 1991. How many folks around the country knew who in the heck the governor from Arkansas who was running for the Dem nomination was? Everyone knew as 1992 wore on.

There is no reason the same thing can't be happening right now with Mike Huckabee. I believe that Mike Huckabee is here to stay, and that his support could rise even higher as one or two of the other leading candidates drops out after the primaries begin to unfold in the early part of 2008.

Time will tell, but the real battle may come down to Giuliani and Huckabee, with Romney becoming a veep candidate and McCain and Thompson fading out of the picture. That is what is in this man's crystal ball. Let's see what happens.

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