A third weakness of Mr. Dean is that he has no crossover appeal. He is a stridently- partisan liberal Democrat from a far-left state. Mr. Huckabee is the epitome of a social conservative and evangelical Christian, but has such a long record of framing issues in terms that appeal to the many conservative Democrats.
A fourth weakness of Mr. Dean is his wide-eyed, hard-edged demeanor. Instances like the Dean-scream of 2004 leave one saying, “Try the decaf.” Mr. Huckabee, by contrast, has a laid-back demeanor and good humor that you see in his Chuck Norris commercials, John Stewart interviews, and segments with opposition hosts like Chris Matthews that makes people laugh.
Yet despite all these weaknesses, Mr. Dean is in some regards making a successful DNC chairman. A big part of that success is due to his leadership experience as a governor, his energy and his ability to give a partisan speech.
If Governor Dean can be a fairly effective DNC chairman, then Governor Huckabee could make a very effective RNC chair. Mr. Huckabee has all of Mr. Dean’s strengths, and is also strong where Mr. Dean is not.
A key concern here is that Mr. McCain will need someone who can rally, mobilize and secure both social conservatives and working families. Mr. McCain’s priorities and strengths address the big issues of national security, cutting spending, entitlement reform, and other matters that will win swing voters. That is where the senator needs to be spending his time, and it’s where he’s strongest. A Chairman Huckabee would be able to build the party where Mr. McCain needs the party built, freeing up the nominee to reach the voters he has proven his ability to win.
There will be talk about someone who can raise money. The money-raising apparatus is there. It will work fine, and a strong finance chair at the RNC can guarantee that. The bigger concern from a party standpoint is that the people in the party who have had issues with Mr. McCain are going to need to be reassured and enthused. For that, Mr. McCain needs an established social conservative who has charisma, name recognition, an ability to give a good speech that wows conservatives, while not making any mistakes that turns off moderates.
Governor Huckabee fits that description perfectly. He could be a real asset as RNC chairman.