Dean Barnett has some nice things to say about Huckabee in this morning's Weekly Standard. While still harboring some doubts, Mr. Barnett, an admitted Romney supporter, concedes that Huckabee may well be the strongest potential nominee for the Republican Party:
I underestimated Huckabee.
He's the best politician in the land. He connects with people in a scary way. He exudes decency. He doesn't fumble over answers. He prepares well, but he also ad-libs brilliantly.
In taking on a top tier of Mitt Romney, John McCain, Rudy Giuliani, and Fred Thompson, it's obvious where Mike Huckabee got the notion that he should be president. Being president has a great deal to do with being a skillful politician. It's easy to imagine Huckabee figuring that he could take these guys, even starting from way back in the pack and with no money.
SO WHAT WOULD a Huckabee nomination mean for the Republican party? First, the good news. Huckabee, as we've all discovered, is quite good at seeking office. As a Romney guy, it pains me to say this, but Huckabee may well be our strongest potential nominee. All of the others have well documented weaknesses as wholesale and retail politicians. Huckabee doesn't.
What's more, Huckabee is the one Republican with a chance of having some crossover appeal to people who are traditionally unlikely to vote for Republicans. As the nominee, he would rebrand a party badly in need of rebranding.
Right now, the Huckabee campaign is in the best shape. All of the other campaigns would gladly trade places with Huckabee. That doesn't mean he's going to win. There's a lot of time left. But it seems like a lifetime ago when the Romney and Giuliani campaigns thought tearing each other down was priority number one, doesn't it?