thanks fred

Huckabee and his people are blaming Fred Thompson for their second-place finish in South Carolina.

Anyone else notice that we aren’t seeing much of that smiley positive Huck lately? Fred took quite a few votes from Huck, and I’m proud to say that I contributed to that effort. It wasn’t enough votes to get into the top two, so that was probably Fred’s last stand in this race. But if all he did was switch the focus back to conservative principles (and derail Huck), it was more than enough. I don’t regret voting for Fred, and I don’t think anyone else does either. I don’t do strategy votes. I vote for the person who I believe would be a good representative of our party and of conservative principles when facing off against the Democrats in November.

I don’t care that Fred being in the race may have helped McCain. That wasn’t intentional on my part (or on Fred’s). There are many good reasons why I couldn’t vote for McCain, no matter what his numbers were against the Democrats. I also don’t like the idea of independents and moderates choosing the Republican nominee. Those two groups are giving McCain an unfair advantage in a primary process that should ensure that the nominee is picked by the majority of the REPUBLICAN party. I hope that’s the way it turns out in the end.

I know that the delegate count is the all-important number, but to call McCain’s 3 point victory over Huckabee a sign that he’s now the frontrunner — forget it. He got 33% of the vote here. Huckabee got 30%. That means quite a few people voted against those two. Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough to keep McCain from winning. The problem is that the anti-McCain vote was divided between Huck, Romney, and Fred. Fred was unable to sell himself as THE alternative, and as long as conservatives couldn’t decide on one guy to represent them, this is the result we get.

Please, fellow conservatives, do not blame us for this result. We did all we could to stop it. Now it’s up to the other states to find us an acceptable nominee.

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new hampshire results

It’s Hillary beating the juggernaut Obama and McCain dealing a second straight silver medal to Mitt Romney. You might have been able to predict McCain’s win over Romney, and maybe even Huckabee over Romney in Iowa, but the media got it all wrong about the Democrats/independents in New Hampshire. I would like to believe that Hillary’s win wasn’t because she got all weepy one day about how hard it is for a woman running for President. (You know…there’s an easy way to handle that — just drop out and let Barack have the nomination.) Maybe it’s just because I don’t like Hillary, but every time I see the clip of her crying, it annoys me instead of making me feel sympathetic toward her. It’s easy to figure out why McCain won, but he’s no frontrunner — at least not with conservatives in this country. The Republicans still don’t have a frontrunner.

Romney may be a terrific businessman, but he has yet to close the sale with voters. It’s true that he has a lot of money and has put together a great organization in many of the important primary states, but it’s hard to see how Romney wins the nomination if he loses Michigan. South Carolina is hardly a sure thing for Romney, even though he has a lot of support here. There is also a lot of support for Huckabee and some for Fred Thompson. Huckabee has enough momentum with his win in Iowa and surprising third-place finish in NH to be a serious threat.

Those predicting a McCain win in South Carolina may be underestimating the strong anti-McCain sentiment around here as a result of his positions on a variety of issues, mainly his views on illegal immigration. So I think it’s between Fred Thompson and Mike Huckabee. Why not Romney? I don’t get the impression that South Carolina conservatives completely trust his conversion on social issues or his commitment to the 2nd amendment, based on his record on guns in Massachusetts. I think Huck wins SC, and I hope I’m wrong. I can’t see conservatives here supporting McCain or Romney for the reasons I’ve previously mentioned. It would be an upset for Fred if he pulls it out, but I just don’t see how it’s possible.

As for me, I haven’t decided who I will vote for next weekend, but it’s not going to be Huckabee. Like I said before, he’s not ready for the job.

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the state of the race

Congratulations to Barack Obama and Mike Huckabee on winning in Iowa. It was a well-deserved win for each of them. Mitt Romney got a second-place finish out of his millions. He’s not dead yet, but he has some work to do to stay in this race until the end, especially if he loses New Hampshire. The Iowa results aren’t the end of the story. Hillary isn’t going away. Mitt isn’t going away. Fred is still alive…and his third place result showed that there are some conservatives who aren’t willing to settle for Mitt and Huck just yet. McCain might win New Hampshire, and if that happens, while it would be another setback for Romney, it still indicates that nothing will be decided this early in the primaries.

There are glaring deal-killing flaws in McCain and Huckabee (in my view anyway). McCain’s sins against conservatism are many, and the negatives outweigh the positives, especially on illegal immigration. Even if he has heard the voice of the people and decided to emphasize border security as a first priority for immigration reform, we can’t trust him not to cut deals with the Democrats whenever it is politically convenient. That’s his record. That’s what he has done in the Senate.

There are many things to like about Mike Huckabee as a person.  Christian conservatives love his boldness about his Christian faith and that he is pro-life.  We appreciate the fact that he is willing to allow his faith to influence his decisions, both personally and politically.  He would make a great pastor for a megachurch.  If he had a daytime talk show on TV, he might even draw a crowd there.  But are we seriously going to nominate Mike Huckabee to represent all Republicans as our nominee for President of the United States?  He’s not ready for the job now, and I don’t think he would be even if he had four more years to prepare for another run at the Presidency.

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a big endorsement for romney

Mitt gets the support of National Review.

This shouldn’t surprise anyone, especially based on the discussion on The Corner over the past year or so. It’s no secret that editor Kathryn Lopez is a big fan, but it must have been hard to reach a consensus on this, since there are others at NRO who are openly supporting other candidates.

An excerpt:

Uniting the conservative coalition is not enough to win a presidential election, but it is a prerequisite for building on that coalition. Rudolph Giuliani did extraordinary work as mayor of New York and was inspirational on 9/11. But he and Mike Huckabee would pull apart the coalition from opposite ends: Giuliani alienating the social conservatives, and Huckabee the economic (and foreign-policy) conservatives. A Republican party that abandoned either limited government or moral standards would be much diminished in the service it could give the country.

That’s one question I’ve always had about Rudy Giuliani.  Can he win enough blue states to make up for the loss of some red states usually solid for Republican nominees? I don’t know the answer to that question. He might be able to do it, but there are no guarantees.  On the other hand, I have more doubts about a Huckabee candidacy than I do about Giuliani’s bid. Right now the fiscal and foreign-policy conservatives see Huckabee as a serious threat to their worldview if elected. With all of the foreign policy challenges we have, we can’t afford to have a rookie making those decisions. He has the same naive belief in the power of diplomacy as many of the Democrats.  The most optimistic view of Huckabee’s record on spending is that it is a mixed bag of tax cuts and tax increases.  We don’t know which Huckabee we will get as President — the tax cutter or the tax hiker.  But his faith in government is disturbing, and it’s enough to keep the fiscal cons off of the Huckabee bandwagon.

There is no question that a Giuliani or a Huckabee nomination would split the conservative base in the way the National Review editorial describes.  Republicans need a united base in order to have a fighting chance against the Democratic nominee. Of course, the threat of a Hillary presidency is scary enough that Giuliani could overcome the loss of some social conservatives. But we should acknowledge the possibility of such a split in the base when deciding on our nominee.

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bush the second

There’s another compassionate conservative who wants to claim the title of the new and improved version of George W. Bush — Mike Huckabee. Huckabee has those valuable social conservative credentials. He’s pro-life, pro-gun, pro-family. He’s also very personable. People like him…and why not? What’s not to like about a Southern Baptist minister with a gift for gab and enough folksy sayings to fill a daily calendar? I have no doubt that he would put a high priority on originalist SCOTUS picks and that he would push for a Federal Marriage Amendment. Unfortunately, those with the view of government’s role in our lives that Dubya and Mike Huckabee share can’t possibly commit to responsible spending or small government. The reason I don’t trust Huckabee on spending is not just because the Club for Growth and CATO panned his Arkansas record.

Jennifer Rubin(NRO)(emphasis mine):

He was not the poster child for smaller government. During his tenure, the number of state government workers in Arkansas increased over 20 percent. Under Governor Huckabee’s watch, state spending increased a whopping 65.3 percent from 1996 to 2004, three times the rate of inflation, and the state’s general obligation debt shot up by almost $1 billion. As Grover Norquist quipped, “We like chubby governors and skinny budgets. Not the other way around.” The massive increase in government spending is due in part to the number of new health programs and expansion of existing ones, including ARKids First, a state program to provide health coverage for 70,000 Arkansas children. Spending on ARKids alone increased 69 percent over a five-year period. Huckabee says it is worth it. He proudly states: “ARKids First is without a doubt, the program I am most proud of. This provides health insurance to tens of thousands of children who didn’t have access to health care before. Instead of a total government approach, this requires deductibles and copays and therefore some personal responsibility. Children can’t learn if they are sitting in class with a toothache, fever, or they can’t see the chalkboard.”

Those are some scary numbers for fiscal conservatives who have been disappointed in President Bush’s recklessness on government spending. Bush seems to be getting the message too late, but at least he’s going in the right direction now. With Huckabee, you don’t really know which Huckabee you will get as President — the one who cut taxes and who was named a “friend of the taxpayer” in his first term, or the one who massively increased government spending and the number of state workers. That’s something to think when trying to decide whether Huckabee is the right guy to put in charge of the bloated federal bureaucracy we already have in D.C.

The similarities with Bush don’t stop with spending. Huckabee is also sympathetic to illegal immigration, just like our President. He is saying all the right things about securing the borders, no amnesty, etc…but when he defends giving in-state college tuition to illegals with good grades, that’s something that might raise a few eyebrows with those opposed to any kind of benefits for non-citizens, even if it was the parent, not the student, who broke the law. He says that his proposal asked those students to apply and become citizens in order to get the tuition reduction, but it’s not clear whether this was a requirement or simply a request. I’m not saying that any of the other presidential candidates are much more solid on illegal immigration. I’m just surprised that so many social conservatives who also care about illegal immigration choose to gloss over Huck’s conflicting views on the subject.

If you liked the Bush presidency, then Huckabee’s your guy. It’s all a question of priorities, I guess, because there isn’t one candidate out there who can make us all happy.

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