Romney vs. Huckabee

When we first hopped on this crazy whirly-gig of a campaign contest, I think on the GOP side of the fence the big story was supposed to be Giuliani vs. McCain.  McCain who was supposed to be the presumptive candidate after not making a big fuss after Bush sunk his campaign in a rather unsavory manner, while Giuliani’s post 9/11 prominence had propelled him onto the national stage.

But as we near the first votes to be cast in the Republican primary, the true narrative is looking to be anything but Giuliani and McCain.

McCain and Giuliani have both essentially failed at courting the conservative Republican base; McCain with his senatorial compromises and illegal immigration stance, and Rudy Giuliani suffering from his socially liberal past.  Even now, with Giuliani still riding somewhat high in national polling, this does not come close to recognizing the kind of dire circumstances that he faces in early voting states where he continues to sink in virtually all of them, a result, no doubt, of the fifty state strategy he’s had to adopt as a result of being turned away from stalwart conservatives.

And in the wreckage of what should have been the main narrative of the Republican race, what is turning out to be the real story is Romney vs. Huckabee.  In fact, recent South Carolinian polls on the GOP contest go to show just how much the race has changed.

Romney now leads down in the realm of the Citadel, overtaking Fred Thompson who looked to still have a shot at winning the state despite his flatlining campaign, and while Giuliani has dropped to fifth place, Mike Huckabee has jumped up to third place.

The story behind Romney’s success is not that complex.  Relying on campaign donations and his own deep pockets, Romney has pursued from the very beginning a very aggressive ground campaign in the early voting states that has resulted in strong poll returns for the ex-governor.  Now, at the eleventh hour, it would seem that he managed to find a way around the national frontrunner through the back door, but also at the eleventh hour comes another unexpected contender.

I remember early on in the campaign someone questioning the validity of his campaign, and in reply Mike Huckabee answered, “I’m going to win the old fashioned way, one vote at a time.”  Well, he’s certainly followed through on that promise, and out of nowhere he’s now a major contender not only in South Carolina, but also in Iowa.

It is important to note now the irony of Mitt Romney’s statement the other day about not allowing Muslims in his cabinet.  Whatever reason he had for saying it (or not, as there has been some contention about the quote in the days that have followed), the simple religious intolerance of the comment shadows the religious intolerance that stands to be the silver bullet that may take out the Romney campaign at the last minute.

Just when it was beginning to look as though Romney might have brokered a tense peace between he and the religious right, the rise of Huckabee has provided an alternative that allows evangelicals to resume their apprehension to the Mormon faith.

Indeed, it is this antipathy that fundamental Christians hold for Romney’s religion that has played a major role in elevating Huckabee to a statistical tie with Mitt in Iowa polls.

And so we see the Republican contest thus.  Giuliani is for the time being out; he’s trailing in just about all the early voting primaries, which is going to negate his lead in national polls.  Romney’s the man, capitalizing on the folly of Giuliani ignoring the early voting states.  But Mike Huckabee has the potential to upset Romney in both Iowa and South Carolina.

Still, even if Huck manages to pull that one off, I don’t see him being able to win the nomination, or at least I’m not ready to say it.  It’s taken him a long time just to establish his candidacy as the real deal in two states and he lacks the ground game and finances to fully capitalize off of an early state win like Romney can.  So without seeing some significant rises elsewhere, all a Huckabee win’s going to do at this point is derail Romney’s campaign.

At which point everything goes up in the air, and I wouldn’t be surprised to go to the Republican National Convention without knowing who is going to come away as the nominee.  Yeah, it could get just that crazy.

One Response to “Romney vs. Huckabee”

  1. E. Rodriguez says:

    I believe that we are in a critical situation. We have to look at the candidate that can best solve the serious economic problems we have, both individually as well as nationally. I am NOT advocating more aid programs for any group. I believe in more personal responsability on the part of every American. I believe in tightening credit and teaching people how to manage their finances. If we have a president who can initiate a solution to our national economic problems, we can move forward in the solution of our other social and global problems. This is not the time to throw rocks at one another. We really need to look for solutions. As citizens of this great country, we need to select the candidate who can lead us in the solution of our economic problems. If we cannot remain fiscally solvent, we will not be able to aid anyone else worldwide. It’s like the airlines tell us: “put the oxygen mask on yourself first before you try to help other passengers”. We must not lie to ourselves about our money. Neither personally nor as a nation collectively is our wealth endless.

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