"Yes, I think he'd make a great vice-president," Senator Mel Martinez of Florida told one of the MSNBC talking heads, speaking of Mike Huckabee. Huckabee has done extremely well thus far, especially in the South-as of this writing, he is ahead of both McCain and Romney in Georgia, the winner in the W. Virginia and has done well enough in other states to cost Romney victories the latter would have otherwise had. All this has led to increasing speculation, by politicians and non-politicians alike, that McCain owes Huckabee bigtime, and will make him his vice-presidential candidate. For progressives, in the reproductive justice movement and elsewhere, this is a terrifying prospect.
Huckabee of course would help McCain where he is weakest–among Republicans who identify as evangelicals, about one third of the Republican electorate. Unlike McCain and Romney, who have changed their positions to one degree or another on abortion, Huckabee has been consistently and fervently anti-abortion. He has also a long record of opposition to gay marriage. Most pertinently, he will not avoid speaking about these issues that still have considerable power to mobilize an important bloc of voters.
Is there a downside to McCain choosing Huckabee as his running mate? After all, Huckabee is on record as not believing in evolution, as wanting to abolish the IRS, as wanting the Constitution to more accurately reflect "God's law," — not positions held by most Americans. So yes, there are some negatives.
But recall that the vice-presidential candidate doesn't usually play a very high profile role in national elections. There will be likely only one vice-presidential debate, i.e. only one time where Huckabee would have to spin for voters his disbelief in evolution and various of his other controversial statements. Bottom line, McCain would probably gain more than he would lose by such a choice. And if the Republicans are victorious, we would have a 71 year old president and a vice-president–the proverbial one heart beat away from the presidency–who might well make Bush's policies on reproductive and sexual health look reasonable.