Mike Huckabee Is Sarah Palin's Very Best Frenemy

Told social conservatives in Iowa that she could "run away" with 2012 nomination

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If Sarah Palin runs for president, she could "run away" with the Republican nomination, Mike Huckabee told social conservatives in Iowa. It's "one of those things everyone needs to be prepared for," the former Arkansas governor said. Huckabee added that he, too, is considering running in 2012.

"If I get in," he joked, "I prefer she not and that she endorse me." The two are tied among Republican voters, Yahoo's Holly Baily reports, but only Palin has a high unfavorable rating of 51 percent.

  • Palin and Huckabee Wrestling for the Same Voters, Chris Cillizza writes at The Washington Post. "It's funny Huckabee should say such a thing, because he's got a lot of say over whether she does just that. And it has to do with whether he even runs in the first place." The top GOP tier is Palin, Huckabee, Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich. "But while Huckabee and Gingrich have pretty broad support, the base of support for Huckabee and Palin is readily apparent, and for both of them, it starts with born-again evangelicals. The two of them combine for 46 percent of that vote, compared to just 26 percent for Gingrich and Romney. Palin and Huckabee are also the top two vote-getters among women and people without college degrees." Cillizza explains that Huckabee seems least likely of the top four to run. "And, if he doesn't take the plunge, where is his 26 percent share of evangelicals going to go? Where is his 18 percent share of women going? Who gets his 17 percent share of those without college degrees?" Palin, duh.
  • GOP Leaders Might Not Like Either of Them, Jonathan Cohn notes at The New Republic. Party leaders heavily influence primaries, and they're good at beating back candidates they don't like. "If party leaders don't want Palin--and I think they'd be nuts to want her, but that doesn't mean they won't--then they'll have little trouble keeping the nomination from her. The best recent example of this was the fate of Mike Huckabee in 2008, but another reasonable example is Dan Quayle's failed bid for the 2000 nomination, when various conservative opinion leaders who had been quick to defend Quayle up to that point did not take his candidacy seriously, and it quickly ended. "
  • Huckabee's Getting a Big Boost from Fox, Media Matters reports. All that airtime from Huckabee's Fox News show would cost about $22 million if he had to buy it in ads. Huckabee recently told Alan Colmes that his show could give him a leg-up: "The one nice thing, whether I should decide to run or not, is that more people at least would know me by what I actually believe and say, as opposed to what some opponent has defined me to be, and that's kind of encouraging." Of the potential 2012 contenders, Palin, of course, has gotten the second most airtime.
  • Neither Beats Obama Now, Mediaite's Ray Rahman observes. "It’s a long way until 2012, of course, but those polled [by Quinnipiac] chose Mitt Romney over President Obama by a slim margin, while Obama still held a similarly slim lead over Fox News pundit Mike Huckabee. As for that other Fox News pundit prowling the arena? Sarah Palin lags behind the President by eight points—however, the poll also shows that she would defeat Romney in the Republican primary."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.