Published March 07, 2012
The 2012 Republican primaries are an exercise in class warfare. The beer track v. wine track divide that characterized the 2008 Democratic primaries and the cultural fissures that Barack Obama and Sarah Palin brought to the surface are now gaping wounds for the GOP.
If Romney wants a shot at uniting the GOP and running competitively in November, the former Massachusetts governor ought to tap Mike Huckabee for vice president.
Last night's numbers tell the story. In Ohio, 58 percent of Santorum backers said that Romney would be an unacceptable nominee and 55 percent of Romney supporters said that they would have a problem with Santorum in the top spot.
Once again, Romney lost those contests in which Evangelicals were dominant -- Georgia (64 %), Tennessee (73 %) and Oklahoma (72 %).
These states now join three other evangelical epicenters -- Iowa, Missouri and South Carolina -- in rejecting Romney. Next Tuesday, Romney faces potential defeats in two more evangelical strongholds -- Alabama and Mississippi.
As for Santorum, he is now viscerally rubbing high-end Republicans the wrong way, and is actually managing to boost their turnout. Santorum's losses in Michigan and Ohio can be directly traced to heightened participation by high-end voters. In other words, it is not just that he lost their votes, but Santorum catalyzed the wealthy to vote in greater proportions than they did in 2008.
In 2012, a third of Michigan voters and 30 percent of Ohioans had incomes over $100,000. Four years earlier, those figures were 23 and 21 percent, respectively. In other words, Santorum can scare some people.
Which brings me back to Huckabee. Like Santorum, Huckabee can galvanize values voters and blue-collar Americans in a way that Romney is incapable of doing.
Unlike Santorum, Huckabee thinks before he speaks, hears what he is saying before he says it, and does not chase rhetorical rabbits. Huckabee would not have trashed John F. Kennedy's speech on the relationship between church and state.
Think of it this way. Could you picture Santorum doing Colbert or the "Daily Show"? I can't. As New York Times columnist Ross Douthat put it this morning, Santorum lacks Huckabee’s wit.
Can you picture Romney being comfortable on either cable show? See my point.
In contrast, Huckabee has shown himself to be at home on college kids’ television -- the very same medium watched by upscale suburban swing voters. Heck, he even did the Weekend Update segment on "Saturday Night Live."
Romney will win the GOP nomination, but he will also be battered and bloody, and have alienated a significant portion of the GOP's base.
Picking Huckabee would be a great way to repair the primary’s damage and to project seriousness about November.
Huckabee is not a token or a gimmick. He served 10 years as governor of Arkansas. Even the establishment could see him holding national office.
With Huckabee on the ticket, the Republicans would nail down Missouri -- which Public Policy Polling shows as a tie. A Romney-Huckabee ticket would be competitive in North Carolina. As a vice presidential candidate, Huckabee would free-up Romney from campaigning in the South.
Huckabee is a solid campaigner and a likeable guy, with a story and a message.
Editor's note: Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee currently hosts "Huckabee" on Fox News Channel which airs on Saturdays and Sundays at 8 pm ET.
Attorney Lloyd Green was the opposition research counsel to the Bush '88 campaign, and served in the Department of Justice between 1990 and 1992.