A Ron Paul-Mike Huckabee Rematch ?by Doug Mataconis
That, it seems, is what CNN would like to see happen:
After the recent FoxTV-managed GOP debate fireworks in New Hampshire, CNN is actively seeking to set up an “immediate” further debate between Ron Paul (R-Tex) and former governor and presidential candidate Mike Huckabee (AR). Huckabee has already accepted, certain presidential campaign observers say. And these sources add that the Ron Paul’s campaign is close to accepting as well, if the head-to-head discussion is not treated as a “sound bite” and lasts longer than a few minutes. It is not clear who would moderate such an exchange.
Ron Paul and Huckabee had a sharp exchange of words over the Iraq war during the recent GOP debate, with Ron Paul insisting, as he has throughout his campaign, that the war was a failed policy and that the troops ought to be withdrawn. Huckabee retorted that for the “honor” of the United States, the war must continue. Huckabee’s campaign manager Chip Saltsman said of the exchange: “Governor Huckabee clearly had a break-out moment during his exchange with Congressman Ron Paul during [the] debate – which illuminated his leadership qualities, experience, dedication to principle, and vision for a unified America.”
Saltsman’s opinion was echoed by some who seemed – following the debate – to give Huckabee the victory; however several GOP debate polls showed that Ron Paul won the overall debate handily, including Fox’s own cell-text poll. Ron Paul is a classical conservative in the Jeffersonian tradition and does not believe in aggressive military confrontations overseas without strong provocation. He hews to the minimalist tradition of government. His views have seen increasing mainstream acceptance during the nascent presidential campaign and his fund-raising continues to strengthen.
Close observers of the current campaign scene said that it is apparent that Huckabee is running out of money and was looking for a confrontation such as the one that developed in the hopes of raising his profile – and additional cash. These sources add that Huckabee has apparently adopted the strongly pro-war line of presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani in the hopes of being considered as a vice-presidential running mate for Giuliani. The mainstream press currently considers Giuliani to be the current Republican front-runner.
First a few observations. It’s clear that Huckabee had planned this confrontation from the beginning. Until the Iowa Straw Poll last month, he was basically a non-entity. Now he has a chance to turn himself into a contender. If not for the Presidential nomination, then maybe for the Vice-Presidential nomination. And, since, Giuliani is the apparent GOP frontrunner right now, he decided that appealing to that point of view would be in his interest. It’s an interesting strategy given the fact that Ron Paul’s first breakout moment back in May came in a debate confrontation with Giuliani himself, which I am still convinced Paul got the better of.
In other words, Huckabee is a player, and a phony and more concerned with his own electoral prospects than what’s actually the right thing to do.
Second, while it would seem to be wise for the Paul campaign to accept this invitation, it does invite some risks. There’s more to being a libertarian than just being opposed to the continued insanity that is the American occupation of Iraq (although I concede that many, including some contributors here will disagree with my opinion on the Iraq issue).
By continually being drawn into debates over Iraq and the War on Terror, Paul risks being defined as a one-issue candidate. And, while Iraq is an important issue, it’s not the only one, and it’s certainly not the only threat to individual liberty that Americans need to be worried about.