On Tuesday, when Mike Huckabee declared that it was now a two-man race between him and John McCain, most people thought it was just a bit of hyperbolic bravado since he had fewer delegates than Mitt Romney. Who would have guessed then that his unquenchable faith had given him the gift of prophecy – delivering divine revelation direct from God.
Today Huckabee’s prophecy was fulfilled with a speed and accuracy which must have the Old Testament prophets jealously spinning in their graves. Top Republican challenger Mitt Romney has suspended his campaign, essentially leaving Huckabee as the main remaining longshot challenger to McCain’s nomination. Whether many Romney voters will transfer to Huckabee or to Ron Paul, who doggedly remains in the race, is yet to be seen.
In his speech today Romney stressed the need for party unity and said some relatively positive things about John McCain and focused his harshest words on the Democrats. He hasn’t officially withdrawn. He will stay on the ballot, but won’t be actively campaigning or spending any more money, showing the sound business judgment which was one of his best selling points as a candidate and not throwing good money after bad. He is unlikely to generate more than token votes in future primaries and may well be passed by Huckabee within the next couple of weeks.
Beyond the stated reasons, it seems quite likely that Romney’s suspension of his campaign is specifically designed to set him up as the leading candidate for Vice President, and he does meet the ideal criteria to balance a ticket headed by McCain, as a northerner with the business and executive experience which McCain lacks. It’s also possible that the McCain and Romney campaigns had already discussed teaming up before Romney made his announcement today.
A McCain/Romney ticket could be quite formidable and put pressure on the Democrats to resolve their primary struggle quickly and with an emphasis on unity.