Now that John McCain has secured the Republican Party nomination, he will decide who should be the next chairman of the Republican National Committee. One name he should consider is Governor Mike Huckabee.
Some people are talking up the idea of Mr. Huckabee being Mr. McCain’s running mate. Should that not happen, the RNC chairmanship would be a perfect post for the young, energetic and charismatic governor from Arkansas.
About 30% of the GOP base is evangelical. Part of Mr. McCain’s crossover appeal is that he is not one, nor does he pretend to be. But having one as GOP chairman would energize them all the way to November, which is what Senator McCain needs.
Mr. Huckabee has proven himself a GOP asset. He was elected multiple times as governor in a Democrat-dominated state. Most Arkansas voters are Democrat, both U.S. senators are Democrats, his predecessor and successor were Democrats, and he had a Democrat legislature.
Yet despite that, he kept getting reelected. He even received 40% of the African-American vote, which is an extraordinary for a Republican.
Mr. Huckabee understands how to appeal to Reagan Democrats. As seen during the campaign, he knows how to connect with working families and lower-income voters, people with a small-town, common-sense attitude towards family and country, who usually feel that the GOP does not speak to their concerns.
The Republican Party is often portrayed by its opponents as extremeists and the party of “fat cats” and country club members. Having Mr. Huckabee as chairman, focused for on party-building and outreach for four years would be strategically prudent.
Consider how Governor Howard Dean has been as DNC chair, and compare that with Mr. Huckabee.
One of Mr. Dean’s obvious weaknesses is that he wastes money. Setting aside his profligate spending as DNC chair, recall how he blew through more than $40 million in his presidential campaign, only to lose Iowa. Mr. Huckabee, by contrast, had a shoestring budget for his campaign, and was such a good steward of it that he made it last, and then won Iowa.
Another of Mr. Dean’s weaknesses is that he demonizes the opposition. He characterizes Republicans in harsh terms that impugn their character and deny their patriotism. A perfect example was just this week, when he had the audacity to say that Mr. McCain lacked integrity. He’ll have a difficult time convincing the American people of that. If John McCain is anything, he is a man of honor. By contrast, Mr. Huckabee has always praised what is good about his opposition, and lauded their good intentions.