The Dallas Morning News in effect re-endorsed Gov. Mike Huckabee this morning for the GOP nomination. The Dallas newspaper had endorsed the ex-Governor of Arkansas back in December, calling him "decent, principled and empathetic to the views and concerns of others -- an antidote to the power-mad partisanship that has led U.S. politics to a dispiriting standstill."
In an editorial this morning, the Dallas Morning News made it perfectly clear that they were not backing down from that original choice: "Mr. Huckabee, the former Arkansas governor, remains our choice for the GOP nomination."
That said, however, the editorial quickly conceded that McCain is likely going to be the GOP nominee:
It is mathematically impossible for Mike Huckabee, the last remaining major GOP contender, to capture the nomination. The former Arkansas governor even turned up on Saturday Night Live recently to poke fun at himself for not going away.
But Mr. McCain has racked up by far the most delegates and leads among Texas Republicans by a wide margin in recent opinion polls. Though he can't clinch the nomination Tuesday, victory is undeniably close.
So why would the paper stick to its original endorsement?
Aside from his long experience and personal courage, he has a solid record of fiscal responsibility and has been on the right side of campaign finance reform and environmental issues. And he was correct and principled to lead the fight for comprehensive immigration reform last summer. Still, his age - 71 - and his choleric temperament gave us pause, particularly when contrasted to Mr. Huckabee's sunny-side-up brand of conservatism.
Win or lose in November, the GOP is destined to spend the next few years redefining itself. For many reasons, Reaganism, which made the GOP the dominant political party of the last generation, no longer resonates as it once did with the American public. The world has changed since Ronald Reagan's election nearly 30 years ago, and the great man's political heirs will have to adjust the GOP's strategy and tactics to new realities.
To that end, Mr. Huckabee, 52, should be a top leader in tomorrow's Republican Party. His good-natured approach to politics - "I'm a conservative; I'm just not mad about it," as he likes to say - is quite appealing after years of scorched-earth tactics from both parties. He's a pragmatist more concerned with effective government than with bowing to ideological litmus tests. For example, he has proven himself willing to violate anti-tax dogma to undertake investment in infrastructure for the sake of long-term prosperity.
And the editorial closes with this final comment:
True, a Huckabee vote today won't do much to determine the 2008 GOP presidential candidate. But it's a good investment in the Republican Party's future.
Now, while I wholeheartedly agree with the idea that a vote for Huckabee is a vote against the so-called Republican elite and for the future of the GOP, but I must say that a vote for Huckabee is a vote for Huckabee nonetheless. I don't know if this editorialist has ever heard the phrase "brokered convention" or not, but it's a phenomenon that is not only possible but is every political junkie's dream. As a Huckabee supporter, I get the "Isn't he too far behind?" all the time. I'm not going to close my eyes to the fact that it is indeed impossible for Gov. Huckabee to garner the 1,191 pledged delegates needed to clinch the GOP nomination before the convention in September. The situation the Huckabee camp is hoping for is a brokered convention, and the only way to get there is to prevent John McCain from getting 1,191 pledged delegates before September's convention. The way to do that? Win as many states/delegates as possible, build momentum, raise money, and pray that the McCain campaign's financing woes continue and that he sits on his duff because of it.
This election cycle could be more historical than it already is.
Cross-posted on The Celebrity.