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Huckabee: the Anti-McCain

In terms of his presidential campaign, Mike Huckabee is the anti-McCain.

Whereas McCain has run an almost flawless early presidential campaign (I know it’s early, but that’s what this is), the Arkansas governor seems to have squandered his golden opportunities.

Huckabee’s problems became blatantly obvious when he failed to organize any support for the Southern Republican Leadership Conference straw poll in Memphis.

Because Memphis is close in proximity to Arkansas, Huckabee’s dismal performance was viewed by many as a missed opportunity.

While Bill Frist kept his presidential ambitions alive by doing well in the straw poll — and Romney bolstered his credentials by doing well in it — Huckabee ignored this opportunity to demonstrate his political viability.

And while McCain has been working to cultivate cultural conservatives, Huckabee seems to be doing his best to alienate fiscal conservatives.

He has somehow become embroiled in a feud with the Club for Growth (which is currently being played out on their blog). It is one thing to support a minimum wage hike. It is quite another thing to take pleasure in picking a fight with one of DC’s most effective conservative groups.

Traditionally, there has been room in presidential campaigns for a movement conservative candidate to carve out a nice niche in the primaries (think Pat Robertson or Alan Keyes). Many thought Huckabee would fill this void.

Let’s be honest, this position is usually less about winning than it is about building a national organization, making contacts, and helping make sure the Republican frontrunner stays conservative.

But Huckabee’s recent missteps — coupled with Sam Brownback’s immigration position — have conspired to leave this position vacant.

Is this an opportunity for another conservative to step up to the plate?

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Written By

Mr. Lewis has managed political campaigns and served as director of grassroots for the Leadership Institute, as well as political director for GOPAC. In 2002, Campaigns & Elections magazine selected him as a "Rising Star of Politics." He is the author of "Teaching Elephants to Talk." His blog can be read at MattLewis.org.

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