“At first glance, the Iowa Caucus appears to be friendly territory for a candidate like Palin. Republican caucuses are dominated by conservative activists, and Iowa is especially partial to social conservatives, including Palin’s old comrades in the Right-to-Life movement. Yet the way endorsements shook out during the 2010 election, a different candidate may have the advantage: Mike Huckabee.
“Huckabee is the unquestioned organizational kingpin of Republican Iowa. He humiliated Mitt Romney there in 2008, and his Iowa chairman that year, Bob Vander Plaats, has maintained his status as the most important right-wing figure in the state. During the 2010 election, when Vander Plaats was running for governor, both Romney and Palin endorsed his opponent Terry Branstad (a bit of a RINO), who ended up eking out a win by a surprisingly narrow margin. Yet Vander Plaats then rebounded by heading up a successful ballot effort to deny ‘retention’ in office to three members of the Iowa Supreme Court who supported the 2009 decision legalizing same-sex marriage…
“A big factor in South Carolina will be whether there is at least one surviving conservative candidate from the South—most likely Huckabee or Gingrich—to draw off support from someone like Palin, perhaps helping a relative ‘moderate’ win just as Romney and Huckabee split the conservative vote there in 2008 and tossed the contest to McCain. And if, as in 2008, Florida’s primary occurs right after South Carolina’s, Romney may again have an edge because of money and the fact that he performed very well there in 2008. However it’s worth noting that the new titan of Florida Republican politics, Senator-elect Marco Rubio, backed Mike Huckabee in 2008.”
“Huckabee is a very different cat from Sarah Palin. He’s smart and policy-minded. And while he expresses a strong social conservative message, he does not play the politics of division, disparagement, and resentment in which Palin specializes. In the days of party conventions, the answer to the Palin problem would have been obvious: party leaders would assemble and force the mutually mistrustful Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee onto the same ticket. In modern times, the game is played differently, but the structure of the situation remains the same: an early Huckabee pact with a candidate acceptable to Republican donors (if not Romney, then Tim Pawlenty or even Jeb Bush) would command enough clout to push Palin off the stage. If not, all bets are off. As I think about it, that’s one of the big problems with the candidacies of a Thune, a Daniels or a Barbour: They will need Huckabee as much or more than Romney does. Yet Huckabee is also a re-elected governor, plus he won the second largest haul of delegates last time. Why should he defer to any of the lower-polling governors? And who will make him?”
“Huckabee was asked if a Sarah Palin candidacy would discourage him from running.
“‘One of the things I’ve learned in politics is you never make your decisions based on what other people are going to do or don’t do because, first of all, they can change their minds,’ Huckabee said. ‘And, second of all, the one thing I learned running four marathons is you run your race, your pace. You do not go out there and look around and constantly wonder what somebody else is going to do.
“‘No question she will be a very, very strong presence and force if she gets in, you know, she may run away with it and that’s one of those things that everybody as to be prepared for, but the decision I make won’t be based on what she does. If I get in it, I would prefer that she not and that she endorse me.'”