South Carolina is about Huckabee and McCain

Huckabee_2008_wartthurs called it a "knife-fight." The New York Times merely called it a "street fight," which I suppose means "knives optional." Either way, they’ve got it right: The South Carolina Republican primary is about John McCain and Mike Huckabee.

With Mitt Romney executing a disorderly retreat — he pulled his money out yesterday, and Mitt goes where his money goes — and Mr. Giuliani having been "Rudy Who?" for weeks around here, it’s all about the winners of the Iowa and New Hampshire contests in the Palmetto State. And the stakes for those two candidates are about as high as they can get.

McCain has to break the South Carolina curse — our state having the shameful distinction of having given the momentum to George W. Bush after a particularly vicious whispering campaign. He came here eight years ago after having won in New Hampshire, riding high. Now, here we go again — will this time be the charm?

Meanwhile, Huckabee has to prove that Iowa wasn’t a fluke. Sure, you could give him a free pass on his dismal showing in New Hampshire, seeing as how the conventional wisdom has it nobody goes to church up there. But he will have no excuse for a loss here.

McCain has a handicap Huckabee lacks — the stakes for the Arizonan are just about as high (again, according to conventional "wisdom") in Michigan, if only because it’s of supreme importance to Romney to beat him there. Romney loses his daddy’s state, and it’s no more Romney.

Not only does he not have to fight a two-front battle, Huckabee’s new and fresh and expected to make rookie mistakes. The handicappers have been far less forgiving to ultimate veteran McCain all year; if he strikes out anywhere, they’ll write his political obituary yet again.

Yes, yes, I know — there are some of you out there who will cry, "No, you’re forgetting Ron Paul!" Or Fred Thompson, or Duncan Hunter, or … I don’t know — who else out there is still alleging to be in this?

But while I had hoped it would be otherwise — still, if Romney or Giuliani wanted to come in for an interview as late as Friday morning, I’d try to change all our plans to accommodate them — but at this point, conventional wisdom actually seems to have it right for once. In South Carolina, and increasingly nationally, it’s about McCain and Huckabee.


13 thoughts on “South Carolina is about Huckabee and McCain

  1. Jeff Mobley

    As a corollary, this makes tonight’s debate interesting, if for no other reason than to observe Huckabee’s disposition toward McCain, and vice versa.
    Hopefully, Huckabee learned from watching Romney that trying to portray an opposing candidate as a “Washington insider” because he’s been a senator for a long time doesn’t work when that senator is named John McCain. Don’t try it, Mike!
    Watch for Huckabee to be less direct in attempting to contrast himself with McCain. He’ll probably talk about how governors make good presidents or something. He’ll probably mention the FairTax, of which McCain is wary.
    If the focus in on immigration, I don’t know what either candidate will do, but I hope it doesn’t get ugly. If it does, I think Huckabee suffers more than McCain.

  2. Lee Muller

    What a sorry choice that would be, between two Progressive Conservatives – that is, big-spending on social programs which fit their moralism.

  3. Jim Wood

    It’s easy to admire McCain when one considers his military service, status as a survivor of 5 ½ years in the Hanoi Hilton and service in the Senate.
    BUT, it’s important to remember what he has done in the U.S. Senate:
    v The Kennedy (yes, TED Kennedy)-McCain Immigration (Amnesty) bill
    v The “Gang of 14” who attempted to seize control of which judges President Bush could nominate for the Federal bench
    v Opposed the Bush tax cuts, now wants to extend them
    v Seeks to expand embryonic stem-cell research
    v Voted NO on a Federal ban on same-sex marriage
    v Voted NO on repealing tax subsidy for companies which move US jobs offshore.
    v Believes that humanity is responsible for Global Warming
    v Voted YES on prohibiting oil-drilling in Alaska
    v Created the McCain-Feingold (Yes, RUSS Feingold who called for Bush’s impeachment) Campaign Finance Reform bill that seeks to limit political contributions from groups (guess he forgot that the Supreme Court decided that political contributions are considered “free speech”)
    v Supported the S-CHIP program that would have created socialized Federal medical insurance for children, a precursor to national socialized medicine.
    v Opposes “waterboarding” terrorists as an interrogation technique, supports closing Guantanamo Bay prison
    v Denounced the “Swift Boat Veterans for Truth” ads about John Kerry’s Vietnam service as “dishonest”
    The media loves McCain because he is a moderate Republican who generally opposes Reagan Conservatism and cannot get the grass-roots, conservative support that is the core of the Republican Party. They love him because they believe he’ll lose and give us another Democrat in the White House.
    Right now, that would mean Hillary Rodham Clinton or Barack Hussein Obama.

  4. weldon VII

    Thompson didn’t withdraw and endorse McCain for you tonight in Myrtle Beach, Brad, but he did skewer Huckabee and toast him while McCain held firm. The plot thickens.

  5. Leo

    It was clear that Sen. Thompson had his sights on Gov. Huckabee. The problem was he didn’t say anything about his own record (if it exists?) or about what he will do as President. All I get is that he “acts” presidential. Kinda novel for an actor!?!

  6. Evangeline Wollmar

    As an undecided voter I decided to read your paper to see how the South was feeling about the candidates.I was appalled and disgusted that you did not even mention Dr. Ron Paul. That made me want to investigate him further. I learned that he is the ONLY one telling the truth…we are in a recession, our government is out of control and the people of the USA are losing their freedom. Reseach HR155. That is the end of free speech as we know it. Why didnt your paper give ALL candiates fair and equal coverage? Are you trying to sway the good folks of South Carolina? I am disgusted. Dr. Ron Paul seems to be the candidate who speaks the truth, stands steadfastly by his beliefs and dosent “toot his own horn” about how great he is.I am curious if you’ll even publish this.

  7. Lee Muller

    Fred Thompson and Ron Paul were the only candidates who addressed the questions, and told what their positions were, and how they planned to accomplish things like cuttign taxes and evicting illegal aliens.
    The evasiveness and outright lying by McCain and Huckabee, and the soundbites of Romney are a turn off.

  8. Brad Warthen

    Just catching up with comments, and I see weldon noticed the same thing I did.

    Evangeline, I know not of what you speak. I’ve devoted an entire column to explaining, in answer to many inquiries such as yours, why Ron Paul has a problem with the MSM. That means that, in the newspaper (which has a lot more readers than this blog), I have devoted more space to Dr. Paul than to Rudy Giuliani, Mitt Romney, Bill Richardson, Chris Dodd, Mike Gravel, Duncan Hunter, Tom Tancredo and Dennis Kucinich. I wrote that column to help Paul supporters understand something that they really, truly seemed to be perplexed about (and, of course, because it’s fun to slap the MSM around).

    So it would be nice if Ron Paul supporters would stop dropping into my blog from out of the ether, apparently having never been here before or read the newspaper that is the source of my actual JOB (the blog being a sideline), and griping about how their guy is ignored.

    I’ll tell you one thing — ever since my column, I’ve done my best not to write any post’s with Dr. Paul’s name in the headline. And why is that? Because it’s a cheesy trick. I can get about 1,000 extra page views a day just by saying "Ron Paul" in a headline. Paul supporters think this is evidence of their guy’s enormous popularity, but that’s just what it looks like from inside the bubble.

    The problem, from their perspective, is that the Ron Paul phenomenon is HUGE on the Web, but not out in the actual world. They see a thousand Paulistas commenting on a blog, and they think they’re taking over the world. It doesn’t occur to them that for every thousand he has, any one of the leading candidates has five or six or more thousand. The difference, of course, is that those supporters don’t spend nearly as much time on the Web as the Paulistas do.

    That’s just the way the world is, folks.

    Another reason it’s cheesy to put "Ron Paul" in a headline is because it raises his supporters’ hopes, only to dash them. When Paulistas say they want me to write more about their guy, they mean they want me to write about how WONDERFUL and wise he is, and about how right he is about everything. But coming from me, that would be big, fat lie. Ron Paul is a really sincere guy who really believes what he says. But he believes very different things from what I believe.

    So it is that I am doomed to upset the Paulistas either way — they’re unhappy if I don’t mention him, and they’re unhappy if I do, because I don’t mention him the way they’d like. Lose-lose.

  9. Lee Muller

    The problem the MSM has with Ron Paul is that most of them lack the basic education in economics and history to understand his positions. He talks directly to millions of educated American patriots, but over the heads of liberals and progressives.

  10. Mary

    Both Huckabee and McCain both have liberal tendencies.
    In order to win in November, the GOP must nominate a true conservative. With the electoral college, we need to win the entire south; only a true conservative can do that.
    The waters must be clear, not murky.

Comments are closed.