What ABOUT a McCain-Huckabee ticket?


This piece by David Broder, which we ran on our op-ed page, intrigued me. Broder is of course the dean of national political writers, so when he says here’s a political combo that would work, I tend to take notice. I had meant to call attention to it on the day that it ran, but got busy and forgot.

So, for the sake of y’all’s discussion, here it is now:

Principles Amid the GOP Pack
By David S. Broder
Sunday, December 2, 2007
If the Republican Party really wanted to hold on to the White House in 2009, it’s pretty clear what it would do. It would grit its teeth, swallow its doubts and nominate a ticket of John McCain for president and Mike Huckabee for vice president — and president-in-waiting.
    Those two are far from front-runners. They trail Mitt Romney in Iowa and New Hampshire and lag behind Rudy Giuliani in national surveys of Republican voters. But, in a series of debates, including last week’s CNN-YouTube extravaganza, McCain and Huckabee have been notable for their clarity, character and, yes, simple humanity.
    From everything I have heard on the campaign trail, it’s obvious that they are the pair who have earned the widest respect among the eight Republican candidates themselves. McCain is the eldest and the most honored, not only for what he endured as a Vietnam prisoner of war but as a principled battler for what he considers essential on Iraq and other national security issues.
    Huckabee, who previously was known only to those of us who cover state government and governors, has been the surprise discovery of the campaign season. His combination of religious principle, good humor, tolerance and clear passion on education and health care complements McCain’s muscular foreign policy and aversion to wasteful domestic spending.
    The two of them seem often to be operating on a different — and higher — plane than the quarrelsome Giuliani and Romney, whose mutual contempt is as palpable as it is persuasive.
    Fred Thompson appears perpetually grumpy — a presence hard to imagine inhabiting the Oval Office. The three House members — Ron Paul, Tom Tancredo and Duncan Hunter — are exercising their lungs but running for exercise, happy to be part of the proceedings but with no hope of being nominated.
    What sets McCain and Huckabee apart is most evident in the way they treat the contentious issue of illegal immigration. Both of them have been burned by it — Huckabee in a losing battle with his legislature over tuition breaks for children of illegal immigrants; McCain for his sponsorship of President Bush’s comprehensive immigration reform. Both now acknowledge — as everyone must — that the failure of the federal government to secure the southern border has produced broad public outrage.
    But, unlike the others, who seem to take their rhetorical cues from the rabidly anti-immigrant Tancredo, Huckabee and McCain always remember that those who struggle to reach the United States across the deserts or rivers of the Southwest are human beings drawn here by the promise of better lives for their families.
    After outlining the failed Senate effort to pass a bill that included a temporary guest worker program and a pathway to earned citizenship for the illegal immigrants already living here, McCain said, "What we’ve learned is that the American people want the borders enforced. We must . . . secure the borders first. But then . . . we need to sit down as Americans and recognize these are God’s children as well, and they need some protections under the law and they need some of our love and compassion." That answer was interrupted by applause.
    Huckabee was asked to defend a bill he sponsored that the questioner said "gave illegal aliens a discount for college in Arkansas by allowing them to pay lower in-state tuition rates."
    The former governor corrected him. The bill, he said, "would have allowed those children who had been in our schools their entire school life the opportunity to have the same scholarship that their peers had, who had also gone to high school with them and sat in the same classrooms. . . . It wasn’t about out-of-state tuition."
    Romney was not appeased. He said Huckabee sounded like a Massachusetts liberal, giving the taxpayers’ money to people who are here illegally.
    To which Huckabee replied: "In all due respect, we’re a better country than to punish children for what their parents did. We’re a better country than that." He, too, was applauded.
    I think we are that better country. And I hope the Republicans agree.


21 thoughts on “What ABOUT a McCain-Huckabee ticket?

  1. Steve

    McCain or Huckabee should pick Ron Paul as both could use Ron Paul’s money at this point. The media continue to slobber over Huckabee when he has not raised this year, what Ron Paul did in ONE day. Huckabee is a very nice funny guy, but Ron Paul has the support and the $$$$, no matter what the media say.

  2. Jon Kirkpatrick

    You’ve got to be kiding me. ROFL.
    McCain: Borrowed $3million to keep is campaign afloat. Wants to bomb the hell out of people.
    Huckabee: barely raised $500,000 in this quarter alone.
    I highly doubt the people of this nation are behind them, and if they are, it’s very few.

  3. The 7:10: Anthony Palmer

    I personally think Republicans would be wise to nominate either of these candidates and stay far away from Romney, Thompson, and Giuliani. McCain may be hated by Republicans, but he does not provoke the same intense hatred among Democrats. In other words, he is “acceptable” to more voters. A Huckabee nomination could potentially cede the “national security” card to the Democrats, so perhaps VP is best for him. It’s hard to consider Huckabee a part of the “right wing machine,” so that makes it a bit harder to run against him. And his “conservatism with a smile” demeanor doesn’t frighten off centrist voters either.
    McCain-Huckabee would be a powerful GOP ticket–perhaps the most powerful one possible this cycle. I am not so sure Clinton could beat them.

  4. Doug Ross

    What David Broder and the majority of ivory tower pundits don’t understand is that the immigration issue is a big issue for Americans right now. McCain botched it badly this summer and Huckabee will have a tough time overcoming the evidence that shows he supports giving taxpayer money to benefit people here illegally.
    It’s not a race issue. It’s a legal issue. It’s a tax issue. It’s an economic issue. It’s a “creation of a second class” cheap labor workforce issue.
    A more likely scenario would be Huckabee/McCain especially if McCain can’t finish third or better in Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina. McCain had his shot eight years ago and he’s certainly not a better candidate now for Republicans based on his immigration blunder. He’s a one issue candidate – The War On Terror.
    Most of America is not worried about The War on Terror any more since the Bush/Cheney dog and pony show to justify invading Iraq
    turned out to be a hoax. It’s still the economy, stupid.

  5. Brad Warthen

    Doug, you may rest assured that Mr. Broder has taken into account your position on immigration. He’s still right that the Republicans couldn’t come up with a better ticket for the general election. If you get past the primaries, you get past most of the people who don’t like the McCain approach on immigration.

    As for the ivory tower, Broder is an old-fashioned shoe-leather man. He walks the streets of towns all across America with regularity.

    Finally, turning the ticket upside-down wouldn’t work. Huckabee wouldn’t stand the scrutiny in a general election, particularly not up against someone like Hillary Clinton. He will need an apprenticeship before he has credibility on foreign affairs.

    You might want to read this piece in The Economist, which says nice things about Huckabee, but also raises the question of that serious blank spot in his resume, and his platform. You should like The Economist; it’s a libertarian publication.

    One nice thing about reading what British publications say about us, they get a broader perspective from that distance. They can bring things into focus that are harder to see close-up. It can be a better view even than the one from the ivory tower.

  6. Lee Muller

    Two big spenders weak on the illegal alien invasion of America.
    Conservatives will stay home, just like they did when George Bush and Bob Dole sold out the Second Amendment.

  7. Doug Ross

    Turning the ticket upside down is the only real possibility according to the latest polls.
    Rasmussen poll (12/3-4) for South Carolina shows Huckabee in the lead with 25%. McCain is running a distant FIFTH behind Thompson, Romney, and Rudy at only 9%. He was at 20% in July, so that’s not exactly a good sign.
    He’s also running a distant 5th in Iowa with only 6%. And he’s third in NH (Romney 33%, McCain 16%).
    The South Carolina primary is 1/19. McCain will be out of the race on 1/20.
    The country knows who John McCain is. They don’t want him to be President. They said it in 2000 and they’re saying it even louder in 2008.

  8. Doug Ross

    A few more primary poll numbers for McCain:
    4th in Michigan
    5th in Nevada
    5th in Florida
    At some point, you gotta finish in the top two to be considered a viable candidate.

  9. weldon VII

    Here is the forest. These are the trees.
    McCain is the withered bush way back there.
    A little rain from you and David Broder won’t save him, so sprinkle your praise somewhere it has a chance to take root.

  10. david whetsell

    If Ron Paul is not elected ,then Hillery will be the next President. The Democrats will tax every person or business to the max, let all the illegals take over the welfare system of this county. Then we can live like the people in China and Russa. The only people who have anything are the goverment leaders.

  11. Richard L. Wolfe

    The best ticket would be Guliani and Huckabee. McCain looks too old and he is no Reagan. Romney would be just like Bush giving the corporations anything they desire. The purest ticket would be Paul and Tancredo but the press would never allow that.

  12. Lee Muller

    McCain proposes ending the business tax deduction for health insurance benefits to workers, so that individuals would go buy their own policies. That is the only good idea he has.

  13. weldon VII

    Reagan was the best president in my lifetime and yours, Brad. He actually DID something: He won the Cold War.
    Mr. Warthen, tear down this blog.

  14. Annie

    McCain and Huckabee would be great. What about McCain and Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison? From Texas and good knock votes from Hillary.

  15. Lee Muller

    Huckabee is another Jimmy Carter, a Progressive Conservative, who thinks it is okay to spend billions of tax dollars (and deficit dollars ) on his vision of Christian charity.

  16. jwizzle

    Just imagine if Bush had picked McCain as his VP 7 years ago…
    I think McCain is the best candidate out of the entire field (demo, repup) on foreign affairs, everyone else is too green.
    Clinton and Romney (and maybe Guiliani) are just corporate cogs looking to make the rich richer…

  17. Bob Irwin

    I believe that a McCain Huckabee ticket would not only be powerful, but it would be good for the country. We could use 8 years of fiscally conservative, humanitarian leaders that can cross party lines to accomplish something other than rhetoric. My only sadness is that the Republicans are not fostering one of the many talented women as potential candidates. I am afraid that the Democratic will select Clinton as their candidate, and it will push opportunities for women in high office back several decades.


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