In his victory speech on super Tuesday, John McCain said:
‘ I want to congratulate Governor Huckabee and his supporters on their success today. Not for the first time, he has surprised the rest of us, and proved again his exceptional skills as a campaigner, and the extraordinary commitment and determination of the people who believe so passionately in him. I salute you.’
The friendliness of the words contrasted starkly with his similar congratulation to Mitt Romney.
Some think McCain will tap Huckabee for his vice president.
Although on the surface, this move might seem logical, since McCain can’t get the evangelical vote out by himself, I think it is very likely that Huckabee could sink McCain’s candidacy. There are 12 years of wacko sermons by Huckabee somewhere, which could well leak, and most ordinary Americans will be completely turned off by the weird assertions in them.
On the other side of the ledger, Huckabee’s presence on the ticket may not be enough to stir enthusiasm among evangelicals themselves for McCain (despite all the talk of ‘balancing the ticket’, people actually tend to vote for the president).
A third of evangelicals now identify as Democrats, and over twenty percent say their faith in the Republican Party has been shaken. Some 67% say that ending the Iraq War is a high priority for them, and less than half talk about “winning” the war a la McCain. McCain’s hundred years war is not exactly going to hearten this group.
Evangelicals are also very concerned about the economy, and many have concluded that fighting poverty is a high priority. McCain is not good on economics by his own admission, and he, despite his good press, is no friend of the poor.
So if evangelicals react to the top of the ticket, they aren’t going to be energized by McCain, and it isn’t clear that a weak Huckabee VP in waiting will be enough to change their minds.
And, there are lots more Huckabee gaffes and weirdnesses out there, like saying that Mormons believe satan is Jesus’ brother or saying that Pakistani illegal aliens are second only to Mexicans in numbers or saying that the Palestinian state should be established in Egypt or Saudi Arabia, or saying that Saddam’s WMD is now in Jordan (a US ally), etc., etc. Yes, he comes across as likeable on t.v. But all it would take is for the press to start paying close attention to his bizarre pronouncements, and the likeability quotient could fall rapidly. And, he could take McCain down with him.