Carol Platt Liebau: It's Huckabee and Obama

Thursday, January 03, 2008

It's Huckabee and Obama

Congratulations to Mike Huckabee and Barack Obama. The latter, in particular, can look for spectacular momentum heading into New Hampshire and perhaps down to South Carolina. Hillary Clinton, whose rationale for the presidency was based on experience and inevitability, may well be in serious trouble. The people of Iowa -- where current results show her tied with John Edwards and trailing Barack by about seven points -- saw her, got to know her, and rejected her pretty unceremoniously. It's worth considering how much greater the repudiation would have been had there been no John Edwards in the race.

As for Huckabee, his win is obviously a disappointment for Mitt Romney, who is now being challenged by John McCain in New Hampshire. A double loss for Romney would be a pretty difficult blow to overcome, but he's impossible to count out, given his money and the fact that he -- unlike Huckabee or McCain -- holds conservative positions across the board on social issues, foreign policy and economics.

Mike Huckabee is going to face a whole new level of scrutiny, and he'd better be ready for it (same goes for his campaign manager). He's pretty certainly going to lose New Hampshire, and it will be interesting to see how much fundraising his Iowa win manages to generate for him, because that's what may well make the difference in South Carolina and in how long he's able to stay in the race. As disappointing as Iowa has been for Romney, it's also worth noting that the state is something of an anomaly -- remember that strongly supported Pat Robertson in 1988.

McCain has to be delighted with tonight's result, and why not? Aside from differences on foreign policy matters, he and Huckabee have, it seems, many positions in common -- and a common interest in taking out Romney. A weakened Romney in Iowa by Huckabee is good news for McCain heading to New Hampshire; a weakened Romney in New Hampshire by McCain would be excellent news for Huckabee heading to South Carolina. The question is whether Huckabee and McCain voters overlap to some extent, and whether a post-Iowa bump for Huckabee will hurt McCain in NH.

For anyone who's voting in New Hampshire and is torn between Mitt Romney and any other candidate, here's something to keep in mind: By not going with Romney, you may be helping to create a scenario where Republicans are ultimately forced to choose between McCain and Huckabee -- two Republicans who spell destruction for principled conservatism.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is difficult to decide who is the biggest loser of the night on the Republican side. Some might make the case for Rudy Giuliani, who--in finishing sixth--raked in less than half the votes of Ron Paul. The problem with this is that Rudy never even pretended to compete in Iowa.

Others might argue that Mitt Romney was largest loser. He spent twice as much in Iowa as all of the other candidates combined, and invested a huge chunk of time. It's hard to imagine how a distant second place finish in a state where you overwhelmingly out-spent your rivals can be spun as other than a major defeat.

I would tend to vote with those who claim the largest loser is the Republican party. Iowa is a swing state and with both parties having hotly contested caucuses, the Democrats outdrew the Republicans by about a two to one margin. As further evidence, we have Carol fretting about a McCain/Huckabee showdown.*

*To be honest, however, I am not sure how Mitt Romney's conservative positions du jour can be considered "principled." It appears to me that if Mitt figured a pirate had the best chance to get the nomination, he would start appearing at campaign stops wearing an eye-patch and sporting a parrot on his shoulder.

6:41 AM  

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