I’m not sure how many people actually watched last night’s debate in South Carolina on Fox News Channel, but Mike Huckabee was fantastic. Dean Barnett at The Weekly Standard agrees:
Huckabee deftly parried Thompson’s aggressive and spirited attacks early in the debate. It was a battle on terrain that was unfriendly to Huckabee, and Thompson attacked with skill. And yet Huckabee got out of the exchange unscathed.
The exchange with Thompson came early in the debate, and Huckabee was just getting warmed up. For the first time in this campaign, Huckabee looked like a credible commander in chief when the conversation turned to those Iranian speedboats. His normal joviality vanished, replaced by an appropriate gravity.
That was when Mike Huckabee said that Iran would be opening the “Gates of Hell” if they were to challenge the United States militarily, answering a question about the recent skirmish with Iranian gunboats in the Persian Gulf.
Here’s what Huck actually said: “Be prepared, first, to put your sights on the American vessel. And then be prepared that the next thing you see will be the gates of Hell, because that is exactly what you will see after that.”
Then he got even better. He seized on a characteristic piece of Ron Paul idiocy to give a spirited speech defending America’s commitment to Israel. Again, he looked credible as a commander in chief. But this was also an extremely shrewd piece of politicking. Conservative foreign policy types obviously loved it as did pro-Israel people. But Huckabee’s core audience of conservative Christians, a much larger segment of the society than either of the other two groups, adored it also.
And it’s about more than just rhetoric. Huckabee has an incredible array of skills which he would bring to The White House.
Mike Huckabee’s an exceptional politician whose package of skills is often sold short. He’s a lot more than an affable dispenser of one-liners who only knows how to play to the home crowd.
Barnett concludes with this:
For the first time, it was not only possible but easy to imagine Huckabee as the leader of 300 million people. He combined this newfound authority with his old standbys of off-the-charts likability and a deft way of tapping into aspirational politics.
In the race for the Republican nomination, Mike Huckabee is going to be tough to beat.
Indeed. Go Huck!
== Sam Brown ==