Important catch by Erick regarding the candidates' appearance at the Values Voters Summit:
The social conservatives do not want to rally around Huckabee because he is as distasteful to fiscalcons as Rudy is to socons. Even Tony Perkins, the head of FRC, said he hoped the social conservative candidate would be palatable to the fiscal conservatives out there. Huckabee is not.
And here we arrive at the conundrum for the GOP and the Press. While the media has been filled with stories about the socons ready to bolt from the GOP if Rudy is the nominee, the real story and the untold story is that the business community is even more ready to bolt from the GOP. For the last eight years they've watched as the socons have scored every significant win on the right — stem cells, judges, etc. Only against Labor have the fiscal guys scored wins. But there have been no budget cuts, no culling of pork, steel subsidies, etc.
The fiscal guys see the writing on the wall. They see Hillary's position. And they are just about ready to cut a deal. And then you have the Republican libertarians who are just about ready to really vote for Ron Paul, doing to the GOP in 2008 what Ralph Nader voters did for the Democrats in 2000.
Huckabee breaks the coalition more than Giuliani because the socons fear Hillary more than the fiscalcons do. And that is why we won't see too many of the socon leaders rallying to the clear favorite of the socon base.
As a social and fiscal conservative, I distrust Mike Huckabee more than I do Rudy Giuliani.
Partly, it's because a Giuliani presidency won't move the party to the Left on abortion and gay marriage. For one thing, Giulani is trimming his sails on these issues to win the nomination. For another, one man -- even a Republican President -- cannot move the party's base from the south to the northeast. So after 8 years of a Giuliani presidency, the party would still be a socially conservative one -- albeit with more northeastern moderates and liberals.
But Mike Huckabee would not need to change the party to move it to the left on economic issues. There is already a significant strain of anti-Wall Street populism in the party. The candidacies of Pat Buchanan and Ross Perot tapped into it; Lou Dobbs reaches it each evening. It's one reason that trade votes are painful even for many Republican Members of Congress. A Huckabee presidency could move the populist faction in the party to dominance over the free-marketeers.
Further, I want to see the results of Huckabee's gubernatorial races in Arkansas. Specifically, I wonder if his social conservative populist message didn't bring in more low-income voters -- especially African-Americans. It strikes me that Huckabee might be able to bring African-Americans to the Republican line more than any other candidate of recent vintage. If that happened, it would strengthen the hand of 'fair-trade,' bleeding-heart conservatives -- weakening the hand of Republicans who would cut taxes and reduce the size of government.
That's not a risk I can take lightly, and it's why I fear Huckabee's candidacy.
Hat Tip: Soren