It was only a matter of time before John McCain’s support started cratering: his whole appeal was his independence, so when he sacrificed that, it figured to erode his standing. Combine that with his uber-hawkish position on Iraq, and it’s no surprise that he is rapidly losing popularity.
Who fills the gap? Not Mitt Romney: his flip-flopping on social issues will, I believe, seriously injure him both in Republican primaries and with the GOP elite. He’s damaged goods. Not Rudy Giuliani, who at least is more honest than Romney about his positions, but as Stuart Rothenberg persuasively argues, kills him with the Republican base.
Who does that leave?
Meet Mike Huckabee, the former Arkansas governor. He’s a Baptist minister, conservative enough for the base, outsider enough for the electorate, and he carries the argument that he can work across the aisle. He’s an outstanding politician, and will be able to make the outsider argument better than anyone else in the field. Put another way, he’s the George W. Bush of 2008. In fact, I think his whole argument will be about changing the tone in Washington.
Yes, I know: it was garbage when Bush said it, and it’s garbage when Huckabee says it. But that doesn’t matter.
The Republicans aren’t stupid, and they are still a tightly organized ship. They will look for someone who is right-wing but doesn’t really seem like it. That’s Huckabee, and given everyone else’s flaws, they will, I believe, turn to him. The key is whether he can get funding.
If it happens, you heard it here first. The 2008 Republican nominee will be Mike Huckabee, and he will be a formidable challenger. We’d better start the opposition research now.
Author: Jonathan Zasloff
Jonathan Zasloff teaches Torts, Land Use, Environmental Law, Comparative Urban Planning Law, Legal History, and Public Policy Clinic - Land Use, the Environment and Local Government. He grew up and still lives in the San Fernando Valley, about which he remains immensely proud (to the mystification of his friends and colleagues). After graduating from Yale Law School, and while clerking for a federal appeals court judge in Boston, he decided to return to Los Angeles shortly after the January 1994 Northridge earthquake, reasoning that he would gladly risk tremors in order to avoid the average New England wind chill temperature of negative 55 degrees.
Professor Zasloff has a keen interest in world politics; he holds a PhD in the history of American foreign policy from Harvard and an M.Phil. in International Relations from Cambridge University. Much of his recent work concerns the influence of lawyers and legalism in US external relations, and has published articles on these subjects in the New York University Law Review and the Yale Law Journal. More generally, his recent interests focus on the response of public institutions to social problems, and the role of ideology in framing policy responses.
Professor Zasloff has long been active in state and local politics and policy. He recently co-authored an article discussing the relationship of Proposition 13 (California's landmark tax limitation initiative) and school finance reform, and served for several years as a senior policy advisor to the Speaker of California Assembly. His practice background reflects these interests: for two years, he represented welfare recipients attempting to obtain child care benefits and microbusinesses in low income areas. He then practiced for two more years at one of Los Angeles' leading public interest environmental and land use firms, challenging poorly planned development and working to expand the network of the city's urban park system. He currently serves as a member of the boards of the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy (a state agency charged with purchasing and protecting open space), the Los Angeles Center for Law and Justice (the leading legal service firm for low-income clients in east Los Angeles), and Friends of Israel's Environment. Professor Zasloff's other major activity consists in explaining the Triangle Offense to his very patient wife, Kathy.
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