Over at TNR’s campaign blog, The Stump, Noam Scheiber makes a very astute observation. I’ll summarize in short form. The Republican primary has four frontrunners, Fred Thompson, Rudy Giuliani, Mitt Romney, and John McCain. None of the four has a perfect conservative record. Fred Thompson and Mitt Romney have dealt with their respective apostasies by covering them up and vying to be the most conservative candidates in the race. Rudy Giuliani and John McCain have stood by the stances they’ve taken that put them at odds with the conservative base and are hoping the honesty and integrity this displays will matter more than complete fealty to conservative values.
What’s the better option? Neither, it appears. None of the candidates have caught fire, possibly because both approaches open up the candidates to attacks—they are either flip-floppers or RINOs, and their opponents are more than happy to point this out. Every indication from the Republican base shows that it isn’t satisfied with any of the available options.
That’s why I think the next month or two will be focused on the rise of Mike Huckabee. The Arkansas governor is a true conservative, and always has been, so he isn’t faced with the dilemma faced by the four frontrunners. He’s got the evangelical vote, he’s got a long history of executive experience, he’s achieved some significant results in Arkansas—if he can manage to start raising some cash, he might be the top candidate in this race before long. And that’s not a good thing for Democrats.