Just this morning, Bob Novak quoted Christian bigwig Michael Farris as saying, “I understand he is not under consideration.” Said Huck himself just two short months ago, “We have been given every signal that is not going to be considered.” And yet:
Mike Huckabee, the former governor of Arkansas and defeated contender for the GOP presidential nomination, is currently at the top of John McCain’s short list for a running mate. At least that’s the word from a top McCain fundraiser and longtime Republican moneyman who has spoken to McCain’s inner circle. The fundraiser is less than thrilled with the idea of Huckabee as the vice presidential nominee, and many economic conservatives—turned off by the populist tone of Huckabee’s campaign and his tax record as governor—are likely to share that marked lack of enthusiasm…
Let me add that a top Republican political strategist told me about a month ago that he also believed Huckabee to be the leading veep contender.
What’s changed in two months? For starters, remember that “Anyone but Mitt” campaign by Paul Weyrich and a bunch of other evangelical leaders? McCain can’t help but be jittery at seeing the Christian base taking a keen interest in his VP pick, especially with stories about their remorse for not having backed Huck in the primary circulating. Another thought: Romney’s always been touted as the logical pick for VP because of his fundraising prowess, to help close the money gap with Obama, but revisit this post from early March about Huckabee’s media savvy. By one estimate, the free coverage he received from the likes of Scarborough, Colbert, and the rest of the talk show circuit was worth $125 million in paid ads, more than Mitt could ever raise (especially with McCain accepting public financing). Having not one but two media darlings on the GOP ticket might convince the press to go merely hip-deep into the tank for Obama instead of face-first, like they’re planning. Finally, now that Barry O’s the nominee, McCain has both a worry and an opportunity that he wouldn’t have had opposite Hillary: Turnout among black voters in the south is sure to be huge this year, which, coupled with a weak turnout among southern evangelicals, could be lethal by putting red states in play. Adding a prominent Christian to the ticket solves that problem and frees McCain up to focus on the battlegrounds instead of fighting a rearguard action to preserve his base. Adding Huckabee specifically to the ticket, with his blue-collar populist rhetoric, holds an extra advantage in giving him a shot at Hillary’s base of working-class Democrats in Pennsylvania and Ohio.
All of which is to say, while Hot Air readers might not like this idea, I can understand why Team Maverick might. Exit question: Who else will be joining me now in writing in Hillary this year?