Fake conservative Mike Huckabee, the former governor of Arkansas, may have won in Iowa last night, but don’t expect a repeat performance in New Hampshire. In the Iowa caucus, self-described evangelical Christians voted their religion over issues to boost Huckabee to a dominating win, 34 percent over Mitt Romney’s 25 percent. Yet the surprise of the night – a pleasant one for conservatives – was Fred Thompson’s unexpectedly strong showing, edging out John McCain for third place by about 350 votes, though both had roughly 13 percent of the vote.
Yet now that the campaign moves beyond Iowa, Huckabee’s campaign is about to go on diet pills; unlike Iowa, New Hampshire voters will study policies and records more than prayer chains and church attendance. That ought to favor Gov. Romney, who neither pardoned nor commuted any prisoners while in office in Massachusetts, compared to Huckabee, who pardoned over 1,000 prisoners, including 12 murderers.
Fiscally? Huckabee raised sales taxes in Arkansas by 37 percent and oversaw a budget that ballooned by 65 percent. Compare that to Romney, who turned a $3 billion deficit into a surplus without raising taxes. There’s another issue-oriented advantage of substance.
And keep in mind that all of this is skewed in that Rudy Guiliani is not taking part in either Iowa or New Hampshire, so his numbers are artificially low, and thus McCain and Huckabee’s numbers are artificially high. As the campaign moves into Michigan and Florida, all this could change.
If the party of Ronald Reagan is to retain its conservative soul, Romney is the party’s best hope, and Romney-Thompson ticket could easily be this year’s dream team.