Ramesh Ponnuru offers a kinder, gentler version of the case against Huckabee, acknowledging his strengths while arguing that his ascendancy (at the expense, presumably, of Romney) would hand the GOP to Giuliani.
I suppose that it’s possible to respond that a series of Romney attacks on Huckabee could accomplish much the same result. It all depends on what happens in Florida, where Rasmussen has Huckabee in the lead, with Romney second and Giuliani third. (To be sure, the RCP average has Giuliani first, with Huckabee and Romney trailing.) Can Romney drive Huckabee’s numbers down without suffering himself (engaging in the kind of fratricide that handed Kerry Iowa in 2004)? And will Romney lend credence to Huckabite Joe Carter’s charge that "Romney has surrounded himself with dirt-peddling, rumor-whispering, truth-twisting, Machiavelli-wannabes. They are the absolute dirtiest group of campaigners on the GOP side of the race"? MR has, after all, made the following remark:
“I’m not going to rule out any possibilities,” Romney said with a knowing laugh, when asked about his media plans. “We keep our possibilities open at this stage. It is politics, it isn’t tiddlywinks.”
Fair enough. But the more Romney seems like just another politician--just another flip-flopper from Massachusetts who sells himself on his electability--the less distinct he seems from Giuliani, who surely beats him in any measure of "authenticity."