And it could happen, but some Republicans might not be so easily persuaded.
Let me sketch one potential scenario: Huckabee wins the Iowa caucus (which is what would happen if the election were today). Romney is second. Rudy is third and Thompson fourth. Huckabee surges into New Hampshire and his communications skills help him ride the wave perfectly. But Romney has some success in framing the New Hampshire race as a choice between a regular Republican from the Northeast and a southern Christian conservative. He tickles New Hampshire’s secret “screw Iowa” appetite and with McCain retaining some strength in New Hampshire Giuliani finds it hard to surge. The results are muddy. Huckabee narrowly wins New Hampshire by fewer than 900 votes over Romney. McCain is third, closely followed by Giuliani. Thompson is fifth and drops out.
The next week Romney narrowly beats Huckabee, now fueled by enough Internet money to run television, in Michigan. McCain runs a distant third. The media labels Huckabee’s close second place finish a “win” in a state where he has no organization.
Huckabee beats the wounded Romney four days later in South Carolina. McCain drops out after a second disappointing third place finish, narrowly ahead of Giuliani, whose campaign announces they are making a final make or break stand in Florida, as they have always claimed in their brilliant Master Plan.
Seeing Romney as his main opponent in Florida for the regular Republican vote, Giuliani uses his final cash on hand to launch a very tough television attack on Romney, featuring former Massachusetts governor and Rudy supporter Paul “DeNiro” Cellucci. McCain endorses Rudy. Romney interjects another $5 million in personal funds into his campaign and launches a blistering TV counterattack on Rudy.
Ten days later, Huckabee wins the Florida primary, dominating north Florida and showing surprising strength in Pinellas, Orange, and Broward counties. Romney finishes second. Rudy, now lagging in every February 5 state poll except New York, drops out, refusing to endorse either remaining GOP candidate. On February 5, Huckabee sweeps, losing only Connecticut, Utah, and Delaware to Romney, who then leaves the race.
Likely? Well, maybe not. At least according to a some opinions gathered of some Republicans during the CNN/YouTube debate…
I attended Frank Luntz’s dial group of 30 undecided–or sort of undecided–Republicans in St. Petersburg, Florida, last night…and it was a fairly astonishing evening.
Now, for the uninitiated: dials are little hand-held machines that enable a focus group member to register instantaneous approval or disapproval as the watch a candidate on TV. There are limitations to the technology: all a candidate has to do is mention, say, Abraham Lincoln and the dials go off into the stratosphere. Film of soaring eagles will have the same effect. But the technology does have its uses.
They tended to like Huckabee a lot (60s to 80s anytime he opened his mouth), but afterwards most said he was too extreme, religiously, to be President. Really, they did.
So who won? Romney walked in with 8 members of the group leaning his way and left with 14.
People think he walks and talks like a President. And notice the knock on Huckabee. Too religious.
But what if Huck can pull an uber-majority of evangelicals? Can he ride that wave to the nomination?
Weekly Standard weighs in…
On February 7, presumptive nominee Mike Huckabee pledges a campaign of “compassion, comparison, and civility” against presumptive Democratic nominee Barack Obama. New York City mayor Mike Bloomberg announces the formation of an exploratory committee for an independent presidential campaign. Rumored budget: $1.5 billion. The cover of TIME magazine screams: “Tsunami 2008: The Year of the Upset.”
Members of the media gathered outside the glass window next to the booth where the pair appeared to partake in quite the serious conversation, with Obama keeping his index and middle fingers glued to his temple as he listened intently to an animated Bloomberg.
[Bloomberg spokesman Stu] Loeser said among the topics discussed were global warming, homeland security, education, and the economy. He added that Bloomberg wasn’t there for any other agenda such as joining forces as Obama’s wingman against Clinton.
What if Obama took Bloomberg as a VP? What would that do for him? Well, if Giuliani won the nomination, Obama might need somebody powerful to shore up New York.
Food for thought…