Juan Cole (Wednsday, February 06, 2008, scroll down) recently discussed the possibility of a McCain-Huckabee ticket speculating that such a pairing could sink the GOP ticket in November. Professor Cole observed that, in the end, voters ultimately mobilize for the top of the ticket, and having Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee won't necessarily mobilize evangelicals who, apparently, are beginning to drift away from the GOP.
This brings me to ongoing speculation of John McCain tapping fellow senator and friend Joe Lieberman (I-CT) as his running mate. While the blog gopbloggers does not like McCain, they think that such a pairing is unbeatable, and would likely split the Democratic vote. I'm not so certain on this point considering that Lieberman was defeated in the Connecticut Democratic primary in 2006, and his views on the Iraq War appear to be out of line with mainstream Democrats. Fueling this speculation is the fact that McCain is coy on Lieberman joining the GOP ticket. The Wall Street Journal's Washington wire has also jumped on the Lieberman bandwagon because of the Senator's stumping so strongly for McCain in New Hampshire. Lieberman, however, has ruled out the possibility.
But not so fast. A McCain-lead war time fusion ticket is not so far fetched. In 2004, Senator Joe Biden publicly endorsed the idea of a Kerry-McCain ticket. McCain also nearly quit the GOP in 2001 around the same time as Senator Jeffords. So, McCain is not so shy about working with the opposition. War time fusion party alliances are not new to American politics. Abraham Lincoln dumped his first term veep Hannibal Hamlin of Maine to put Southern Democrat Andrew Johnson on the ticket. Franklin Roosevelt considered adding Ohio Republican Senator John Bricker to the Democratic ticket in 1944 before Thomas E. Dewey beat him to it.
The real strength for such a ticket is that it would emphasize the War on Terror, and, let's face it, this is the only issue left for the Republicans. I don't think they will be able to win on the economy. Moreover, it would solidify McCain's credentials as a moderate who can work across party lines. The Right wing of the GOP has also been aiding the cause. Rush Limbaugh is leading the charge against McCain.
Although, it appears that, like Juan Cole's speculation, McCain is veering to the right. George W. Bush and McCain recently exchanged praise for one another, and the former is looking to help unify the party and his legacy.
Another reason for McCain to be weary of alliances with the Republican Right is that is Hillary Clinton is the nominee that ought to help mobilize the GOP base. Obama and Hillary are in the hunt for superdelegates heading down the home stretch. One conservative site obssessed with Hillary . . . I mean which focuses on Senator Clinton speculates that superdelegates favor Hillary . But not so fast New Jersey superdelegates are now undecided . The possibility of an Obama nomination looms strong, and it's not clear how the GOP base will react.
McCain's gamble would be best served with hogging the middle, but it appears that it will be a rightward shift.
Oh yeah, while this post is not intended to reflect my own politics, Belle is right, I wouldn't stump for Huckabee.