The 2008 campaign for president has gone on way, way too long. And now the decision for the Republican nominee is going to be made much too fast. For us political junkies, it’s just getting interesting. The Democratic race may hold some interest, too, if Obama can win somewhere other than Iowa. Why did the two best public speakers, Obama and Huckabee, win Iowa and now can’t win anywhere else? Obama, by the way, is the best by far. The problem is, he’s wrong on just about everything politically–except on the importance of being nice.
But since the Republicans are the only candidates that reflect the majority of my own values, I’ll keep my eye on them. All of the remaining candidates, except Ron Paul, hold most of the same values as I do–with a few exceptions. I don’t dread the prospect of Romney, McCain, Huckabee, or Guiliani winning the nomination.
But these thoughts on the morning after McCain won the South Carolina primary. I’m snowed-in (or iced in) in Atlanta–the churches are all closed–which may be why McCain eked out the SC win over Huckabee. Huckabee’s camp was fearing snow in the upstate, and it came; so the Huckabee turnout may not have been what they could have expected otherwise.
But the real story is McCain winning in SC, where his 2000 candidacy was torpedoed. If McCain can make his final SC campaign appearance in Charleston Harbor–in view of Ft. Sumter–in perhaps the most states-right, conservative state in the nation, and go on to beat an evangelical pastor and a conservative former Senator/TV actor from a neighboring state–then he’s convinced a fair number of conservatives that he is not evil.
McCain is going to be formidable and he is certainly the frontrunner now for the nomination.
The second story really is Huckabee’s inability to capture South Carolina. The state was tailor made for him, with half the state evangelical Christians. Thompson is probably the reason. He woke up in time to attack Huckabee in the last debate and showed some life in the last week. I doubt that he did this for McCain; politicians almost always do things for themselves. But the result is that it is likely that Thompson’s final hurrah will launch McCain to the nomination.
Some say Thompson reminds them of Reagan. Well maybe, but I’d say Thompson’s performance in this campaign is reminiscent of the final days of Reagan’s presidency, when he could hardly answer questions at press conferences, with the ravages of age and perhaps alzheimers taking their toll.
I loved it when Thompson jumped into the race. But come to find out he does need a script. And now Jack McCoy has his job as the DA on Law and Order. What’s next for Thompson?
Back to Huckabee. As I’ve written before, I like him very much and support so much of what he stands for and most of his policies. But I think he’s probably finished. He needed SC more than McCain or Romney did. With four contenders in Florida the vote may be split enough to give any of them a chance, including Huckabee. But after that its hard to see a path to victory. I appreciate so much about Huckabee, but I don’t think he can beat Hillary because he looks like an foreign policy lightweight. Back to: Huckabee for VP.
I’ve also written about Romney, as far back as two years ago. Unfortunately, I liked him a bit more when he was a creative governor of Massachusetts than I do with him as a doctrinaire conservative candidate with only a little more fluidity than Al Gore as a candidate.
Guiliani has spent so many days out of the media spotlight, it is hard to see him coming back. I don’t know if he had any choice, but his strategy to wait until Florida looks like the wrong strategy. Could he really not have competed in New Hampshire; wouldn’t he have had the same appeal as McCain to NH independents. Guiliani has little margin of error with liberal positions on abortion and same sex marriage; he may have already gone outside the margins.
I’ve been a McCain fan for some time (to the chagrin of many close to me), and I supported him in 2000. He may be better for America than for the Republican party, but I like his independence and integrity and his strength. I don’t think you can discount his heroism as a POW, and I like his balanced and positive approach to climate change. I’m amazed that in all of his years in the Senate he has never asked for an earmark. Not too many examples of that. I do wish he was 10 years younger.
I hate that Rush trashed both McCain and Huckabee this week. I was also surprised by it, because he’s usually friendly to all Republicans. While Sean Hannity clearly admires Thompson and Guiliani, he’s said consistently that he likes all of the Republican presidential candidates. I agree with him, but today I think McCain is the man with momentum, and the candidate most likely to beat the Democrat.