As John McCain solidified his position as front-runner, Mike Huckabee revived his bid for the Republican presidential nomination with surprise wins in primaries across the South on Super Tuesday. Mitt Romney vowed to fight on even though conservatives who dislike Sen. McCain failed to rally behind him, with many instead backing Huckabee. “Over the past few days a lot of people have been trying to say that this is a two-man race,” Huckabee told supporters. “Well, you know what? It is. And we’re in it!” (The New York Times, free registration)
What the commentators said
Super Tuesday “revived” Huckabee’s campaign after it was given up for “dead,” said Jake Tapper in ABCNews.com. He hadn’t won a state since Iowa, but his surprisingly convincing wins in West Virginia, Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee, and his home state of Arkansas did more than let him teach a lesson to all the “pundits and politicos who had written him off.” He can now argue to conservatives who are looking for a candidate to rally behind that Romney is “the one who should drop out.”
And Huckabee may be right, said The Dallas Morning News in an editorial. McCain has an “overwhelming” lead in the delegate count, but Huckabee proved himself to be “David to Romney's Goliath” in the fight for the hearts of conservatives. Even though McCain appears increasingly likely to be the nominee, “the outcome might be more palatable to some conservative factions if Huckabee winds up as his running mate.”
Romney can rightfully point to Huckabee’s limited appeal, said Michael Scherer in Time.com, as Huckabee, a Baptist minister and former Arkansas governor, has yet to catch fire outside the South, where he “holds an obvious claim to the evangelical vote.” But the trouble for Romney is that he, too, has “failed, thus far, to establish himself as the clear standard-bearer for that conservative movement,” and he has spent a lot more money on the talk than Huckabee.
So much for the collective influence of “Rush Limbaugh, Laura Ingraham, and Ann Coulter,” said John Dickerson in Slate. They all told their conservative radio listeners to back Romney and “forget Huckabee,” because a vote for his doomed candidacy would only ensure “that the apostate McCain will win.” Of course, Huckabee “isn't going to win the nomination” despite his Southern surge, but “the thorough repudiation of those who would speak for conservatives no doubt delights him, since they have regularly targeted him, as well.”
If both Huckabee and Romney stay in it until the end, said Ryan Sager in the New York Post (free registration), there's still an outside chance "of a Stop McCain ticket being formed by the candidates who have so far split the anti-McCain vote."