Mike Huckabee Tells Conservatives They Might Just Have To Accept Romney
During the 2008 campaign, Mike Huckabee and Mitt Romney were bitter rivals for the role of the “not-McCain” candidate and, while Huckabee actually ended up lasting longer in the race, it’s Mitt Romney who ended up inheriting the “next in line” role for the 2012 cycle. When Huckabee decided not to run earlier this year, many analysts believed that Romney had dodged a bullet. Now, Huckabee is telling his fellow conservatives that they might just have to accept the fact that Mitt Romney is going to be the 2012 Republican nominee:
Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, who won the Iowa presidential caucus with the backing of social conservatives in 2008, is hinting that it may be time for conservative Republicans to get behind former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney’s candidacy.
“Mitt Romney may not be their first choice, but Mitt Romney every day of the week and twice on Sunday is going to be a much more effective president for issues that they care about than Barack Obama,” Huckabee said Sunday in an interview with WABC. “I think sometimes there is this anxiety within the Republican Party of who is the perfect candidate. The answer is there isn’t one.”
He continued to say that conservatives have to decide “who can survive” the campaign process. “And whoever that is, if it’s Mitt Romney, then I think Republicans and conservatives and the Tea Party need to get behind him and say, ‘You may not be our first choice, but between you and Obama, I’ll vote 40 times to get you elected.'”
Romney placed a distant second behind Huckabee in the 2008 Iowa caucuses, even though Romney invested significant time and resources into the state, which holds the nation’s first nominating contest. But a poll of likely Iowa caucusgoers released last week that so far, the Iowa nomination is up for grabs.
Huckabee, still popular among Iowa conservatives, could help Romney secure a victory there January 3. The former Arkansas governor is premiering a documentary about the moral issues surrounding abortion in Iowa on December 14 and has invited the eight GOP presidential candidates there to discuss the issue, the Des Moines Register reports.
While some conservatives are wary of the evolution of Romney’s position on abortion rights, Huckabee defended Romney on Fox News earlier this month.
“Mitt Romney himself will point out that Ronald Reagan was pro-choice at one point in his life and then became pro-life, as did George H.W. Bush,” he said. “So it’s not uncommon for people to change a position.”
Huckabee has a point here, of course. I see a lot of conservatives online who say that there’s no way they could ever vote for Romney if he was the nominee, and others pushing the silly idea that there’s no difference between Romney and President Obama. Whether you agree with him or not, it’s pretty clear that there are distinct differences between the two men and if you’re a conservative the idea that you’d just stay home seems silly.
Could Huckabee end up endorsing Romney? It would certainly be a strange coda to the 2008 campaign, but it’s by no means impossible. I honestly can’t see Mike Huckabee putting his credibility in the GOP behind a Cain, Bachman, or Santorum. Perry is far to weak at the moment to merit such a high profile endorsement. And Gingrich? Can you really see a former Pastor endorsing Newt Gingrich?
Huckabee is most likely to sit the race out for now, at least until the January primaries whittle down the field a little more. However, don’t be too surprised if you see Mike Huckabee on a podium with Mitt Romney some cold day next year. And if that does happen before January 3rd, well, Iowa will suddenly get a lot more interesting.
Graphic via Jazz Shaw on Twitter.