I suspect I'm not the only one who was furious about Mitt Romney's attack adds. I think his attacks against Huckabee were, if not for the most part fraudulent, at least extreme spin.
But at this point, considering Romney has suspended his campaign, I think it best that we consider his previous attacks "water under the bridge." Let's give Romney the benefit of the doubt, and assume that he made those attacks because he sincerely thought he was the best person to serve as president; Just as Mike Huckabee sincerely believes he is the best person to serve. Let's choose to believe Mitt was just fighting for that chance to serve the best way he knew, rather than out of any animus for Mike Huckabee.
Looking at the declared platforms of Romney and Huckabee, they have a lot in common. Solid national security (including border security), lower taxes, smaller government, energy independence for America, preserving family values, etc. That's why I would have much rather seen the final race come down to Romney vs Huckabee, rather than either against McCain; but that too is water under the bridge.
With all the similarity, and the fact that Romney's campaign and pundits were speculating that Romney and Huckabee were "splitting the conservative vote", it seems clear what Romney's likely tactic was. Try to convince voters Huckabee was a "tax and spend liberal", and thus siphon off conservatives to himself; while splitting some liberals/"moderates" from McCain to Huckabee.
Again, although I can't say I approve of such methods, I'm trying to give Romney the benefit of the doubt on the matter of his motives. If his motives had been of a hostile nature, he'd probably still be in the race.
I think one of the things that motivated him to withdraw, was reading the results of many exit polls. These polls indicated two extremely relevant points. First, that although McCain's support came more from liberals/moderates and Romney's and from conservatives; Huckabee's support came not from moderates to any noticeable degree, but from conservatives; and that those identifying themselves as extremely conservative mainly supported Mike Huckabee.
The second relevant point from the exit polls was that Huckabee voters were likely to have McCain as second choice (rather than Romney) and vice versa. Since the base support of McCain and Huckabee were at opposite ends of the spectrum; it should be obvious that it was not similarity of positions that made the second choice, but a dislike for the Romney attacks. Again, now water under the bridge.
I even suspect there were some conservatives who voted for McCain, but really liked Huckabee; and did so because, as an unintended result of the interaction of multiple instances of pundit spin, they had been convinced that "a vote for Huckabee a vote for [Romney]".
That brings us now to a point where we have a race between a barely Republican front runner John McCain and tenacious underdog Mike Huckabee as the defender of a platform mostly shared by everyone from Mitt Romney to Fred Thompson to Duncan Hunter and others with at least a serious claim to conservatism.
Now pundits say a McCain nomination is inevitable. I want to know; is this is more or less inevitable than the Hillary Clinton nomination was before Obama started getting all those delegates?
Yes, I saw Karl Rove lay it out mathematically on the FoxNews channel. He said Huckabee would need about 83% of the remaining delegates in play, to win a majority before the convention. It does seem that would take a major miracle. But Mike Huckabee has been counted out so many times and been the brunt of so many attacks from pundits supporting other candidates that the fact he's still standing is in itself a miracle.
Rove then pointed out that McCain only needed 40% of the remaining delegates for majority. But the obvious converse of that is that Huckabee (with a small % assist from enthusiastic gadfly Ron Paul) only needs 60% to stop McCain from getting a majority and force a "brokered convention." Considering which states are left in the rest of the primary season, if conservative would simply be willing to consider past campaigning "water under the bridge" and honestly examine Huckabee's real achievements and positions unfiltered by past preferences; then achieving that 60% chance of stopping McCain's liberal express becomes a fairly minor miracle after all.
Now while I really want to see Huckabee get that 83% and be the presidential nominee; and while I'm positive Mike is fighting for that nomination rather than VP; I'd settle for getting to a brokered convention where Huckabee could end up in either the top or second slot, but where we could get both filled by at least a 90% conservative. When it comes to the highest office in the land, I'm sorry Senator McCain, but a supposed 83% rating from one group just isn't enough.
To sum up a probably much too long article: There may have been a lot of water under the bridge; but I'm convinced there's still enough water upstream to sail a conservative ship of state; especially if we have a skipper like Mike Huckabee, and potential shipmates like Mitt Romney, Fred Thompson, Duncan Hunter, and their compatriots and supporters.
"Duncan Hunter Endorses Mike Huckabee" - 2008.01.23
"Limbaugh's Logic Proves Huckabee Lowered Tax Rates" - 2008.01.15
"Will McCain-Feingold be the Elephant in the GOP Room?" - 2008.01.04
"Huckabee Shows Fiscal Conservatism" - 2007.12.14
"Kudos to Romney on Faith Speech!" - 2007.12.07
"A Candidate with Moral Clarity" - 2007.11.20
"No Law Respecting an Establishment of Religion" - 2007.11.17
"Where Mike Huckabee is Wrong... (but it's 'alright') " - 2007.11.05