As we anticipate Mike Huckabee’s speech at CPAC tomorrow morning, I’m reminded of Edmund Morris’s treatment of Ronald Reagan’s speech at the Republican National Convention of 1976. In his unique book, “Dutch – a Memoir of Ronald Reagan,” Morris described how Reagan dominated the convention by giving an apparently spontaneous speech at the last moment, both at Gerald Ford’s invitation and to Ford’s great regret.
Morris wrote: “The roar that followed this apparently spontaneous address (it had been memorized, one suspects, in Reagan’s tape-recorder brain) dwarfed any heard so far at the convention. ‘Beautiful – just beautiful,’ Rockefeller was heard to say, as he seized the governor’s hand with professional respect. Only after Reagan glided offstage, accepting congratulations with his trademark shy duck of the head, did the realization sink in that he had not said a word in praise of President Ford.
Just as the stage had earlier seemed to be awaiting him, it was now permeated with a sense of his absence. Ford and Dole resumed their crazed hand-in-hand jiggle to the music of the band, but the Convention was demonstrably over, and none too happy with its choice.”
Huckabee has an opportunity to make such an impression with his CPAC speech tomorrow. He has that Reagan-like ability to mesmerize a crowd and he is certainly a more appropriate choice for this conservative party than the earnestly unpredictable Senator McCain. He has an advantage over Reagan in that the nominating contest isn’t over – Reagan had to wait four more years for his second chance. Huckabee doesn’t have to wait at all.
Will he make the most of this opportunity? Stay tuned!