The case for Mike Huckabee

* The great communicator: Huckabee proved during the 2008 campaign that he stands head and shoulders above most other politicians in the party when it comes to connecting with average people. At the start of the 2008 campaign, Huckabee was a blip — at best — on the radar of most politicians and political operatives. But, he used the debate-laden process to showcase his wit and common-sense rhetorical approach, traits that helped him break out of the very crowded second tier. (It also helped that the likes of Mitt Romney, John McCain, Rudy Giuliani and Fred Thompson largely ignored Huckabee until it was too late.) He’s parlayed that gift for gab into a series of books and a television show on Fox News Channel. And it’s what makes him stand out in the slow-starting 2012 field. Huckabee will be a dynamic presence in every debate — and there will be lots and lots of them — and his common touch when it comes to communicating with voters is a unique gift that can’t be taught.

* A known commodity: What 2008 did for Huckabee is turn him into a nationally known figure within the party. Look at any 2012 Republican primary poll — like this one from Gallup yesterday — and Huckabee is at or near the top. Ditto any early numbers coming out of Iowa, the state that will almost assuredly kick off the the 2012 nominating fight. It will take millions of dollars for people like former Gov. Tim Pawlenty (Minn.) or current Govs. Mitch Daniels (Ind.) or Haley Barbour (Miss.) to raise their name identification to Huckabee-like levels. And, unlike some other well-known potential candidates — like a certain former Alaska governor — Huckabee is both well-known AND well-liked by primary voters. That’s a potent combination, particularly in a presidential race where voters often vote on feel — choosing the candidate they are most comfortable with and believe understands them best.