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 a