…the most interesting moment in Saturday night’s Republican debate at St. Anselm College was when the candidates were asked what arguments they would make if they found themselves running against Obama in the general election.
The best answer came, not surprisingly, from the best Republican campaigner so far — Mike Huckabee. He began by calmly mentioning his and Obama’s contrasting views on issues from guns to life to same-sex marriage. This served to remind Republicans that these contrasts have been central to G.O.P. success over the last quarter-century, and to suggest that Huckabee could credibly and comfortably make the socially conservative case in an electorally advantageous way.
Huckabee went on to pay tribute to Obama for his ability “to touch at the core of something Americans want” in seeming to move beyond partisanship. And, he added, Senator Obama is “a likable person who has excited people about wanting to vote who have not voted in the past.” Huckabee was of course aware that in praising Obama he was recommending himself
I was watching the debate at the home of a savvy, moderately conservative New Hampshire Republican. It was at this moment that he turned to me and said: “You know, I’ve been a huge skeptic about Huckabee. I’m still not voting for him Tuesday. But I’ve got to say — I like him. And I wonder — could he be our strongest nominee?”