Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

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When is it time for Huckabee to quit?

Byron York argues that Huckabee runs the risk of diminishing the political capital he has accumulated if he stays in too long. The McCain campaign has to be weary of embarrassing results among constituencies he is supposed to consolidate into his coalition.

Of course, at the moment Huckabee is the vehicle for anyone displeased with McCain as the GOP nominee, which doesn’t mean that all those who vote for him actually like him, only that they dislike the Arizona Senator more.

I’m inclined to say that, for conservatives, McCain’s discomfiture is a good thing, assuming that he makes some (more) gestures in their direction. But it’s worth recalling that the necessarily public nature of this discomfiture and the presumably ensuing attempt at conciliation offers folks in the press opportunities to write stories that might harm McCain’s subsequent efforts to build a winning coalition in the general election. It would have been better for the outreach to have been conducted under the radar, so to speak. If McCain is in fact an honorable man, even quiet promises ought to have been sufficient.

The other possibility, of course, is that the publicity drives McCain in the other direction, so that he won’t do what he needs to do to consolidate his base until after Huckabee is out. The more time passes, the harder conciliation might become and the more newsworthy it is when the attempt does come. This complicates further McCain’s efforts in the fall.

For me, the bottom line is this. McCain must by now have received any message he’s going to receive through the primary process. He knows that there are constituencies in the GOP that are unhappy. He knows he needs their votes, their work, and their money to win the general election. But he also needs the votes of independents and moderates. A quiet rapprochement with conservatives serves everyone’s interests better than a loud, public one. Assuming, as I said, that McCain is an honorable man, the only thing that publicity accomplishes is embarrassing him and making his path to election more complicated. Even if Mike Huckabee doesn’t get out, it’s time for conservatives to register their discontent in other ways than in the polling booth.

Discussions - 5 Comments

Of course, this analysis presumes that the GOP is still the place for conservatives to place their capital. It also assumes that Huck is a 'discontent' vote, a protest, and not a positive or serious candidate. What happens when both those assumptions turn out to be false?

Just as a side note, this site has always been very slow. Lately, however, it has been hanging even more.


There's some evidence that Huckabee's numbers in Virginia and Maryland were augmented by "protest" voters. What's more, the only way he can win the nomination is for strange things to happen at the convention.

I don't disapprove of protest votes or of Huckabee himself. But I do disapprove of a President Obama or Clinton, especially for the Supreme Court nominations that will be forthcoming and for the conduct of our foreign affairs.

especially for the Supreme Court nominations that will be forthcoming and for the conduct of our foreign affairs.

The problem is, for too many conservatives the supreme court 'threat' (looking for a better term) and argument just does not hold water anymore. Especially with a "maverick" like McCain who has already signaled he is not onboard with conservative justices. As for foreign affairs, the neo-cons have frayed too many, though this still elicits a strong reaction I think. Through in the other important issues like immigration and health care, and it's clear a McCain GOP has no idea how to motivate the base, especially the sizable libertarian leaning (as opposed to traditional conservative) base.

At what point do we criticize Huckabee for just being a poor candidate and having a poor strategy? He is making a colossal mistake by being a regional candidate. Regional candidates do not win elections, and they usually lose the electoral vote.

The more I hear people criticize Huckabee on non-issue related gripes, the more I am inclined to believe that on the issues he is far closer to a conservative than either McCain or Romney could ever pretend to be.

I know it is hard to get past Huckabee's "Christian vernacular" for many, but on social issues particularly his balancing the budget and his consistently pro-life stance in Arkansas, Huckabee draws a sharp contrast with McCain that many voters and I mean many many voters are not willing to ignore. 200,000 voters in Virginia, that is virtually ever rural and non-metropolitan area, areas less influenced by the media, voted for Huckabee.

I am certainly not against McCain. His clean campaign has drawn a stark contrast with the Democrats who have had to "clean things" up since they noticed that the "low-balling" Romney lost big time (in the 35 million dollar range).

Furthermore, I am shocked at how "opportunistic" Romney appears by first selling himself as the "true conservative", second asking Huckabee to drop out and third dropping out himself after "the numbers" didn't pan out for him.

I am also suprised at how readily McCain accepted the endorsement of Romney considering their obvious differences. Romney's endorsement certainly does not make McCain any more conservative. In fact I think McCain loses legitimacy, in the eyes of some, for his recent Romney/McCain coaliton.

The problem with Romney who also failed in his bid to "buy" a senate seat was that he never convinced people that he saw them as more than "numbers".

The difference between leaders and managers is the ability to distinguish between "beans and bullets" and humans.

You can buy "beans and bullets" but you can't buy legitimacy as a conservative with voters who have the ability to see things for themselves.

McCain will continue to draw fire from conservatives but hopefully he doesn't fall into the same trap that Romney did and try to sell himself as something that he is not.

He loses legitimacy when he calls himself a conservative. He is in all honesty very moderate on certain conservative issues.

He should make it clear if his position has changed and he has adopted a more conservative stance on things. If he hasn't, he shouldn't be ashamed to say to so.

Like Churchill wanted to make it clear to the Indian politicians that certain concessions in self-government could be made but others couldn't. McCain also will get much farther by being as upfront and honest with people as he can.

If he is unable to communicate what he needs to say effectively then he may run into the trap of being unable to inspire and help people understand the importance of his decision.

McCain's greatest draw to many voters is his principled stand on issues like Iraq and his seeming independence from the washington establishment. Thus his credibility is his most important currency. However, as he draws closer to Washington he is actually drawing farther away from the rural areas that he so desperately needs in order to win an election.

Signicantly, McCain is now losing the battle for independents to Huckabee. More indepedents voted for Huckabee in Virgina, as well he is not connecting with young people.

These are serious concerns that won't be answered by endorsements. Only careful and persuasive speech and actions will lead to his victory. Otherwise, the signs of losing the "communication" battle to Huckabee foretell of a serious possiblity for losing the "communication" battle to an equally funded opponent like Hillary or Obama.

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