What if Mike Huckabee wins the upcoming Republican primaries in Wisconsin or Texas, or both? Wisconsin, like Iowa, has lots of small towns, lots of farmers, and a sizeable evangelical population that is likely to boost Huckabee. Unlike Iowa, however, Wisconsin has a vast and sparsely populated wilderness in the north where the people are independent-minded and mildly belligerent. Wisconsin could go either way. East Texas is part of the relatively populous rural South and is likely to go strongly for Huckabee. Combined with a respectable showing in the state’s central cities and wild west, that could give him that state’s primary. A win in either state would give Huckabee momentum and credibility for a continued run. His fundraising would continue to be strong and other Southern and Midwestern states would look forward to their opportunity to heart Huckabee.
What if Huckabee loses both Wisconsin and Texas? If Huckabee doesn’t win either state, his support will probably wilt and he’ll likely be advised to drop his bid. If that happens, Huckabee can do the party a great service by endorsing John McCain enthusiastically and wholeheartedly. I think the McCain people – who are fretting that Huckabee’s continued campaign will undermine their man – are underestimating just how powerful an endorsement from Huckabee would be. Huckabee’s supporters have more love and respect for their candidate than Mitt Romney’s ever did, and by now everyone in America knows what a gifted communicator Mike Huckabee is. The only question is whether Huckabee would use an endorsement speech as an opportunity to make the party regret their choice of candidate, as Ronald Reagan did with his final speech at the 1976 Republican convention, and it’s doubtful that Huckabee would do that.
Whenever and however his concession happens (and it seems almost inevitable now), Huckabee can be expected to provide a convincing and moving endorsement of John McCain. It’s still unknown whether McCain is considering (or will later consider) Huckabee for the VP slot, but he would be foolish not to. Huckabee speaks eloquently and persuasively to Republicans who would otherwise be reluctant to give their votes to McCain.