Huckabee's Next Move

The passing of each week in the 2008 presidential calendar bring John McCain closer to securing the national convention delegates required to make him the Republican presidential nominee. And it brings Mike Huckabee closer to his swan song.

The “Chesapeake primaries” — Washington DC, Maryland, and Virginia — were the latest step in that process. Yesterday morning, Huckabee told a standing-room-only crowd of reporters in Washington at the Christian Science Monitor breakfast that he felt an exit from the race and deference to the increasing likelihood of McCain’s nomination would “disenfranchise voters” in states with upcoming primaries.

“I didn’t make up the rules, I played by the rules,” said Huckabee, echoing the mounting disgust Republicans have had for the “front-loading” and “snap” nomination nearly six months before their convention in Minneapolis.

The former Arkansas governor went on to sketch out his next stops on the campaign trail. “We’ll be in Wisconsin for the primary next Tuesday (February 19),” he said, “There’s a strong pro-life group there.” Huckabee said that his support of a Human Life Amendment ("it’s been in every Republican platform since 1980") and McCain’s opposition to it, as well as their differences on embryonic stem cell research, would fuel conservative support for him in the Badger State primary. Underscoring another difference between himself and McCain, Huckabee noted that Wisconsin is the home state of Democratic Sen. Russell Feingold, co-sponsor of the stringent campaign reform legislation with McCain that Huckabee and many conservative GOPers vehemently oppose.

Huckabee will also compete in Texas, which is holding its primary March 4. Recalling how he once lived in the Lone Star State and was, “eight blocks from it when I lived in Texarkana, Arkansas,” Huckabee predicted a strong showing because he “knew Texas better than almost anyone else in the race” — referring to Texas Rep. Ron Paul, who is also remaining in the contest with McCain.

Would the Arkansas man consider a third party movement this fall? “Oh, no, that’s not even up for discussion,” Huckabee replied, “I want to work within the party.” He cited his becoming a Republican as a teenager (“in a town where everyone else was a Democrat”) and his commitment to working “within the party.”

As for running for the Senate against Democratic David Pryor in Arkansas — where the filing deadline is March 10 — Huckabee said flatly “No. I will rule it out categorically. There’s a greater chance of me dying my hair green, covering my body with tattoos, and going on a rock tour with Amy Whinehouse than running for the Senate.”