Huck’s Big Day

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So what will it be for Mike Huckabee in SC–the beginning of the end or the end of the beginning? If he doesn’t beat out John McCain for the win, the obits will start to roll in: He wasn’t ready for prime time, the GOP establishment laid him low, he couldn’t build out from his base of evangelicals, etc. If he does prevail, the Republican race only becomes more of a mare’s nest, with Huck poised to pick up a bundle of delegates across the GOP heartland come Super Tuesday and become firmly established as a player for the duration of the campaign. On the road in Greenville, David Brody reports that Huck’s stump speech is now “all about lower taxes, energy independence and talk about how middle class America is being squeezed.” Meanwhile, in today’s New York Times David Kirkpatrick and Michael Powell portray our hero as “poised between pulpit and podium”–working to meld a religious and secular appeal. In the South, where white evangelicals are the norm in the GOP, the question is not so much whether Huck can broaden his base beyond them as whether he can make himself sufficiently broadly appealing to what is in fact a fairly wide array of folks, ranging from establishment types to pedal-to-the-metal all-values-all-the-time voters. The final ARG poll shows McCain down and Huck and Thompson up–high volatility all around. This is a big day.