A year ago the MSM story was John McCain --frontrunner, even though he wasn't.
Six months ago the MSM story was Fred's groundswell --except, it wasn't.
Three month's ago, the MSM swooned over Newt --for a weekend.
In the past month, the MSM has been booming the Huckaboom, even though it is already a Huckabust.
Never have so many pundits been so wrong about so much.
A few pundits --John Podhoretz, Fred Barnes, some of the gang at NationalReview.com's The Corner and of course yours truly-- have called it a two man race from early '07: Mitt v. Rudy. The former Massachusetts governor intended to do well early and build an unstoppable momentum. The former New York mayor intended to hang back until Florida's late January vote, watch the field filet each other, and then launch his campaign for real in the Sunshine State.
Both candidates are still on plan, and the various threats (Huckabee in Iowa, McCain in New Hampshire) to the Romney plan and the various premature obituaries penned on the Giuliani plan all overlook the fundamental fact that more than 50% of the GOP is pledged to either of these two men. That is because these are the two candidates who can beat Hillary or Obama. None of the other three have shown themselves capable of raising the money, the energy, or the coalition to manage that task. Thus if Romney falters, his voters will largely go to Rudy. And if Mittmentum gets a win or a place in both Iowa or New Hampshire, the conservative vote will flow to him further down the road.
The GOP traditionally nominates the most conservative candidate who can win in November. "Conservative" means "conservative" across the three coalitions of values voters, economic growthers, and national security firsters. (See my May, 1998 Weekly Standard article "Our Six Party System" for details on the GOP's three parties and the Dems' three parties.).
Mike Huckabee isn't an economic conservative and he certainly isn't a national security conservative given his comments on Iran. The Huck's comments on Iran are disqualifying, period. Naivete is charming in many people and situations, but not in a would-be president on the greatest threat to world stability.
John McCain is strong on the war, but against the Bush tax cuts, against the First Amendment, against the rule of 51 and his party's leadership in the Senate when it comes to judges, in favor of the McCain-Kennedy immigration bill and decidedly not a Party man.
Fred just doesn't evidence the ability to muster the energy it will take to beat Clinton, Inc or Obama-Oprah.
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