While sorting some old papers today, I came across this item from the 2008 Republican presidential primaries. Although I don’t believe that this flyer was ever distributed to the public, it is likely one of the most amusing pieces of literature to come out of the Ron Paul campaign.
To offer a bit of background regarding its creation, in early 2008, there was a fear that Mike Huckabee would emerge as the Republican nominee. After all, Mr. Huckabee won the Iowa caucuses with a strong plurality, 34% to second place Mitt Romney’s 25%. Rush Limbaugh echoed this concern when he said, “I’m here to tell you, if either of these two guys (Huckabee or McCain) get the nomination, it’s going to destroy the Republican Party, it’s going to change it forever, be the end of it.” If Huckabee could capture the socially conservative South Carolina, that win would provide him with considerable momentum and could propel him to victories in future contests.
The image is priceless. If you recall, Mike Huckabee served as the 44th governor of Arkansas while Bill Clinton was the 42nd. The picture suggests that Huckabee, looking for guidance, turns to his predecessor and is rewarded with a smirk and a thumbs up thus giving him the Clinton seal of approval. Given that many social conservatives viewed Huckabee favorably, if one were to tie him to the morally bankrupt Clinton, it may cause many of them to have second thoughts about supporting him in the South Carolina primary.
Unfortunately for the Paul campaign, due to the previous poor results of Iowa (where he finished fifth), New Hampshire (another fifth place finish), Michigan (where he finished fourth), and the one bright spot of Nevada (where he claimed second), it seemed highly unlikely that Ron Paul would be able to post huge numbers in the next contest, South Carolina. Therefore, if Paul couldn’t win the state, one theory emerged to work to weaken one of the candidates who might win the state (in this case Huckabee). Doing so could prolong the process and allow Ron Paul to gain a much needed victory in a later state.
At the end of the day, John McCain defeated Mike Huckabee to capture the lion’s share of the delegates from South Carolina. Although Huckabee did end up winning a handful of southern and border states in later contests, his defeat in South Carolina likely eliminated any chance that he had of becoming the Republican nominee.
Although the piece pictured at the beginning of this article would have had no effect on the outcome in the 2008 South Carolina primary as it was not distributed, it does highlight the growing fear, at the time, of a Huckabee nomination. It is simply another interesting tidbit of our political history.