Jennifer Rubin claims that after three impressive debate performances, “Mike Huckabee may be the candidate to watch.” As I have written before, Huckabee could make a case for himself as a vice presidential candidate, especially if Giuliani is the nominee and needs to assuage the concerns of social conservatives. The problem for Huckabee is that he is a big government conservative, taking Bush’s “compassionate conservatism” to a whole new level. In the last debate, he spoke about how “we’ve not demonstrated as demonstrably as we should that we respect life at all levels, not just during pregnancy. We shouldn’t allow a child to live under a bridge or in the backseat of a car. We shouldn’t be satisfied that elderly people are being abused and neglected in nursing homes. It should never be acceptable to us that people are treated as expendable — any people.” Nobody wants children living in the backseat of a car, but the implication of this–as it was with President Bush’s “when somebody hurts, government has got to move”–is a massive expansion of government. Huckabee has also raised taxes, even if he also lowered taxes, that’s something that all people who call themselves Republicans vehemently oppose. The question I have is whether Huckabee has really gained traction from the debates at the grassroots level, or he’s just impressed the media. There’s not much you can tell from polls, since he consistently registers in the low single digits, typically losing to the margin of error. So, a good test as to whether he has won over voters with his debate performances will be his second quarter fundraising numbers. In the first quarter, he raised a meager $500,000. He cannot afford another showing like that.
(Oh, and for what it’s worth, I thought the John Edwards joke was kinda lame.)