WASHINGTON – It’s not over till it’s over.
That’s not just what Yogi Berra believes, it’s what Mike Huckabee’s campaign chairman is saying about the Republican contest for the presidential nomination.
In a memo to his campaign staff, late Friday, after the dramatic departure of former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney from the race and John McCain’s effort to unify the Republican base at the Conservative Political Action Conference here the same day, Ed Rollins said it’s too early for a coronation.
“Big mistake on their part,” wrote Rollins. “They are wrong. We know that we are running an underdog campaign, but that’s nothing new – we have always been the underdog. And yet a whole lot of onetime ‘overdogs’ are now on the sidelines, licking their wounds. The Republican National Convention is seven long months away; a lot can happen in that much time. A lot will happen.”
Specifically what Rollins expects is a Huckabee win the big southern state of Texas and close contests with McCain in Pennsylvania and Ohio.
“So don’t let anyone tell you that it’s over!” warns Rollins. “In fact, as of today, no fewer than 27 states, districts, and territories have not yet had a chance to vote. That includes such big states as Texas (Chuck Norris’ home state, ’nuff said), Ohio, and Pennsylvania. All the Republicans and Republican-minded independents in those states want to be part of the process, too, and they deserve to have a choice put before them. Folks don’t want the Republican Establishment to pick the nominee for them, through a premature rush to judgment, and they sure as heck don’t want the media to pick the nominee!”
What makes Rollins so giddy?
“We note that in many of the hottest contests so far, the vote has been divided into thirds – typically, about one-third for Governor Huckabee, one third for Senator McCain, and one third for all the other candidates,” he says. “And as you know, typically, Governor Huckabee has done best among hardcore Republicans – the activist base.”
He believes many Romney voters will go to Huckabee rather than McCain.
“We are confident that we will get most of the activists, the folks who work the hardest because they care the most about the issues,” Rollins says. “In addition, we note that many of the jurisdictions that have already voted have merely had the first round of their delegate-selection process. To be frank, there’s still plenty of time for politicking, as Republicans really focus on the question of who should lead their party into the November election. Who’s the most stalwart champion of Republican and conservative values? Who’s the most articulate and effective campaigner? We know the answer to those questions – that’s why we have been working our hearts out for Mike Huckabee. But soon, everyone paying attention will know that, too. As the campaign season grinds on – and let’s again remember, this is just February! – there will be plenty of time for reflection and reconsideration, especially among those hundreds of delegates pledged to candidates who have now dropped out.”
Huckabee sure didn’t seem like a candidate looking for a vice presidential selection at CPAC today. He electrified the crowd with a rousing speech designed to galvanize support among conservative voters.
“I know the pundits, and I know what they say, that the math doesn’t work out,” he said. “Folks, I didn’t major in math. I majored in miracles, and I believe in those. Am I quitting? Let’s get that settled right now. No, I’m not.”
Huckabee concluded with a story from a supporter from Kentucky who had recently lost her house in the tornadoes that ravaged the South.
“Despite damage to her home there was one thing that was pretty remarkable,” he said. “She had a Mike Huckabee yard sign … When the tornado had gone through, standing pristine, without a hint of damage, or even leaning, was that yard sign. Across America, everywhere there is still a vote to be cast, I am still standing.”
Huckabee handily defeated McCain in today’s Kansas Republican caucus, taking 60 percent of the vote to the Arizona senator’s 24 percent.
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