and anybody who recognizes what a dynamic candidate Sarah will be is welcome to join.
I urge everyone to read D. Roman's fine piece endorsing Sarah. It's called "The Case for V-P," and you can read it by scrolling down a few columns on: http://TheMaritimeSentry.blogspot.com/ The Sentry is D. Roman, a dedicated Packer fan. The people who back Sarah are a diverse group -- in terms of age, gender, geographic location, religious background, and political philosophy. They all recognize that Sarah can be a force for positive change in our country, just as she has been in her beloved Alaska. "Run, Sarah, run."
I've been having some intense discussions with Mike Huckabee supporters -- many of whom are also Sarah Palin backers -- about various aspects of his candidacy. The overriding question is this: Can Mike Huckabee win in a general election against Hillary Clinton? The answer RIGHT NOW appears to be that Mike, like any other GOP possibility, cannot now win such a race.
(If you think it pains me to say that, you're right.)
My general principle in politics is to avoid any race that's not winnable. My only exception is to participate in races that establish a foundation for winning the next time around, as I did in Diana Lynn Irey's campaign against John Murtha. The fact is that a losing campaign can be more draining of time, energy, and money than a winning one. Take my word for it: winning is a lot more enjoyable than losing.
The Economist magazine, a British publication that reports very insightfully on American politics, has a cover story this week that outlines the problem. It's titled, "Is America Turning Left?" You can read what's essentially a summary of the article by using the following link: http://economist.com/
The specific link to the summary piece is: http://www.economist.com/opinion/displayStory.cfm?Story_ID=9621579
To read the entire story, you either have to pay $8.00 for the online version, or go to your local library, or borrow my copy.
Admittedly, a lot of conservatives find me exasperating. I've been associated with the conservative movement for approximately 40 years! But I reject conservative attitudes that I believe lead eventually into the political abyss. For example, I supported the Immigration Reform legislation because I believed that its failure could cost us the Hispanic vote for a generation (as The Economist says it will). I'm against political strategies that win battles at the cost of losing wars.
My history is one of working with conservatives and moderates -- Democrats, female professionals, Blacks, Hispanics, young people, and gays -- who are willing to support conservative (or moderate) Republicans. Mike Huckabee told CNN yesterday that he would welcome "anybody" who would support his campaign, and I have the same philosophy. Any other approach strikes me as mindless.
Here's how The Economist describes the current situation: "Having recaptured Congress last year, the Democrats are on course to retake the presidency in 2008. Only one Republican, Rudy Giuliani, looks competitive in the polls, and his campaign is less slick than those of Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama."
The piece continues: "Voters now favour generic Democratic candidates over Republican ones by wide margins. Democrats are more trusted even on traditional conservative issues, such as national security, and they have opened up a wide gap among the young, among independents and among Latinos."
I didn't write the story, but it does sound a lot like my recent observations. For conservatives, it's not a pretty picture.
The situation may be even gloomier than the one The Economist presents. The Clinton and Obama campaigns are much more dynamic and technologically sophisticated -- as well as a lot better at fundraising -- than any we see from Republicans. That also appears to be true of emerging campaigns at the House and Senate levels.
The Economist believes Giuliani looks like the only candidate who can be competitive on a national level. Later this week, I'll write more about Giuliani strategy -- a national one as opposed to the traditional "Red State approach" -- and why I'm impressed by it. In fact, if he wins the nomination, he expects that MOST evangelicals will vote for him, even if reluctantly. However, he seemingly regards the hard-core evangelicals as unreliable and not worth courting.
It's possible -- and you're reading it here first -- that the Republican race could come down to a struggle between Rudy Giuliani and Mike Huckabee. For that to happen, Mike would have to raise a great deal more money than he has in recent quarters -- perhaps $5 million in the current third quarter and $10 million in the fourth quarter. For him to raise that kind of money, not huge sums by modern standards, he would have to continue looking like a possible winner.
Mike may become THE conservative candidate embraced by the Republican "base." The Fred Thompson effort is looking more and more like an embarrassment, and there's there's no evidence he can win either the Republican nomination or the general election. The McCain effort has well publicized problems that might be insoluble. As for Mitt Romney, he has spent tens of millions of dollars on his effort and has achieved only 8% in national polls of Republicans.
The great strength of the Huckabee campaign is in the blogs, where you will find his most ardent supporters. The Huckabee site lists most of the blogs supporting him. However, the writers/activists on those blogs also show what might be the campaign's greatest weakness: what I've called a "my-way-or-the-highway" approach.
Some of the bloggers for Mike -- perhaps most of them -- want a statement of ideological purity from him. For example, they're asking him to say that he would reject any offer to be on a ticket headed by Giuliani. I've outlined what I think would be the consequences of Mike's taking such a position: it would destroy his campaign, basically bringing it to an abrupt end.
Mike Huckabee is NOT running to be President of the Bible-Belt, anymore than Rudy Giuliani is running to be President of Urban America. They're both running to be President of the United States, a country containing a multitude of different groups with diverse viewpoints.
If an individual runs as a Republican, he or she accepts the responsibility to support the ticket -- period. If a person can't make that commitment, then he or she could still run for the President. However, it would have to be as an independent.
If Mike were the Republican nominee and the other candidates backed away from him because he was TOO "pro-life" or too associated with the evangelical movement, they would deserve condemnation. They would have undermined his capacity to win.
Ronald Reagan understood this point, with his Eleventh Commandment that "Thou shalt not speak ill of another Republican." I'm sure he would have applied that to both Rudy Giuliani and Mike Huckabee.
Mike's most ardent supporters are demanding ideological purity from him. Yet that would keep his appeal basically limited to what he has now: the evangelical core. A generous estimate is that Christian evangelicals make up about 20% of the electorate (with 20% -- one-out-of-five -- of that group voting for Democrats, as they did for Kerry in 2004). In a general election, with support coming mainly from evangelicals, Mike probably could not carry Arkansas.
I've kept urging him to reach out to other groups -- including Hispanics, Blacks, women professionals, younger people, and gays. Admittedly, I mention gays in part to goad some of my conservativer brethren. However, there are many conservative gays.
In 2000, George Bush got more than one-in-five gay votes (according to the CNN exit poll). Without thousands of votes from gays in Florida, GWB would have lost that state, and Al Gore presumably would be in the second term of his presidency. A blog like http://gaypatriot.blogspot.com/ is as conservative on almost all issues as any Huckabee-supportive blog.
Roughly 5% of the votes in American elections get cast by people identifying themselves as gays. What if Mike reached out to them (and their many supporters), perhaps by modifying slightly his stand on marriage? For example, he could suggest a solution to the explosive "gay marriage" issue would be for states to follow the lead of Vermont and New Jersey and allow civil unions.
If he did that, there'd probably be a backlash from his evangelical supporters. Some of them might even say Mike had endorsed the (mythical) "gay agenda." A few might even apply to him the dreaded term "RINO." In extreme conservative circles, a RINO is someone who doesn't agree with them on every single issue.
What if Mike reached out to Hispanics, perhaps by promising his running mate would be someone like Linda Chavez? (She was extremely critical of the anti-"amnesty" movement.) If he did something like that, he would run into the reality that many of his evangelical supporters were intense opponents of Immigration Reform.
The irony in all this is that some of the Mike's strongest supporters are unintentionally undermining his efforts. In demanding that he essentially "prove his love" for all their favorite stands, they're painting him into a corner. They're making it extremely difficult for him to build on the level of support he now has.
You can't get votes from a graveyard (unless you live in Chicago) or out of thin air. You have to get them from real people of extremely diverse views -- especially from the political moderates who make up the biggest segment of the American electorate.
Thus, some conservatives believe Rudy can't (or at least, shouldn't) win the Republican nomination because he's too liberal. On the other hand, it may be that Mike can't win it because he's trapped in an ideological cocoon built by evangelicals. As the country turns slightly to the left, noted by The Economist, demands are rising that Mike stay far to the right. That's not fair to him or to the country.
Stephen R. Maloney -- Ambridge, PA
Add-on: Let me be clear: if Mike Huckabee wins the Republican nomination, I would expect Rudy Giuliani, John McCain, and Mitt Romney to give him full support, including organizational and -- critically -- financial backing. If he believes asking one of them to run with him as vice-president is essential to victory, I expect the offer to be accepted. Without this kind of unified effort, we can't have any expectation of winning. In 2006, Pennsylvania's Rick Santorum ran for re-election as one of the most conservative -- and most pro-life -- members of the Senate. Giuliani gave many speeches in support of Rick and taped ads for him. Senator John McCain also made many appearances for Rick, even though they disagreed on a number of political issues (including immigration reform). Again, without this kind of united stance, it's impossible to beat anybody, especially a relentless campaigner like Mrs. Clinton. "In unity, there is strength." In disunity, there is President Hillary Clinton, not to mention a solidly Democratic Congress. The stakes are high, and we are well behind.
For those interested in the Huckabee campaign who would a somewhat different spin, I strongly recommend "BigCheney's" blog, which provides in the August 14 column some of the most insightful commentary about the effects of the Ames victory. BigCheney is a young teacher in Connecticut, and he blogs at: http://presidentialpolitics.blogspot.com/ He "likes Mike" and believes he has a good chance to "keep movin' on up."