Tuesday, May 13, 2008

McCain's Veep -- Part II

As was pointed out earlier on this site, McCain's choice for a running mate could mean the difference between winning and losing in the fall.

The trouble is this: if there wasn't a perfect Presidential candidate to be found, how much harder will it be to find a perfect VP nominee?

According to the Capitol Commerce blog over at U.S. News, two different high level sources told that particular author that Gov. Mike Huckabee is at the top of McCain's Veep list.

If true, this is a bit surprising, since we would have assumed that McCain would bow to the conservative "establishment" and only take a candidate from a list approved by Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh. MH would, given our fondness for Huckabee, consider him (in a world free of prejudice) to be an ideal running mate for McCain, for all of the reasons that Capitol Commerce lists, and more.

But still, this is surprising, since if true, it means that McCain and his advisers are willing to call the bluff of the "true conservatives," for whom neither he nor Huckabee are perfect enough. It would be a "maverick" choice from the standpoint of the conservative chattering classes.

The reality is that in choosing Huckabee, McCain would be taking a page from the Reagan playbook -- choosing the second most popular guy in the primaries. And ultimately, McCain needs a running mate who knows how to get votes -- not just one who ticks off every item on a predetermined conservative checklist.

Romney supporters might beg to differ about the "second-place" assessment, maintaining with some justification that he might have stayed ahead of Huckabee in the delegate count had he remained in the race.

But the truth is that in what promises to be a cash-strapped year for the Republican Party across the board, it wouldn't seem to make much sense to add a man to the ticket who had to spend on the order of $1 million for every delegate he earned in the primary and caucus season.

By contrast, Huckabee is a master of frugal campaigning and of being able to connect with ordinary voters. He would nail down the South, including borderline states like Arkansas, Tennessee, and West Virginia -- and be effective in getting the vote mobilized in the Florida panhandle. He would also do well in the working-class areas of swing states like Pennsylvania and Michigan.

It would still come as a big surprise to us to see Huckabee as McCain's running-mate. But it is intriguing that McCain is seriously considering the idea.

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