Well it happened, and far sooner than I had anticipated. Mitt Romney (R-MA), has officially endorsed John McCain (R-AZ) for President. This is the culmination of what began at the CPAC Conference. It also signals that a deal between the two camps has been struck, and that Huckabee may have screwed himself over by staying in the race up to this point.
For those that find this to be something of a shock, don’t be. The rancor between Mac and Mitt that was played over the media was more smoke than fire. The problem existed not between the candidates themselves, but between the campaigns and the staffs (and more than a few supporters engaged in the sniping). So this is not much of a shock, the only surprise coming from the timing.
I had expected this to happen, and was convinced it was going to happen after Romney’s speach at CPAC. The last thing any of the candidates wanted (except maybe Ron Paul) was to so fracture the GOP, and the conservative movement as a whole so badly that it could not be repaired. The vitriolic sniping that happened before CPAC (with all parties guilty to one degree or another) was threatening a split that could have potenntially destroyed both, and reduced it all to fringe groups. As McCain gained more and more momentum, and more and more conservtaive endorsements, Romney saw the witing on the wall. In what was a truly class act, Romney went out trying to heal the forming rifts, in what was perhaps his best speach ever.
We all knew that some sort of deal was in the works. The campaigns started talking last week. But the rapidity of this endorsement shocks me a bit. I had fully expected this to come, but not before Ohio and Texas voted in their primaries. Yesterday’s announcement obviously indicates that some sort of deal has been struck.
But what sort of deal? Two main possibilities here: 1. Romney has been offered the VP slot; 2. Romney has been offered Secretary of the Treasury. At the very least expect Romney to hold some sort of significiant policy position as regards the economy. My money is on the VP slot still. Why? It’s good for both camps. For McCain, it brings Romney and more conservatives on board, solidifying support in some key states. For Romney it keeps him in the national spotlight, poising him for a run in either 2012 or 2016. This argument still holds true even if Romney doesn’t get the VP nod, but takes a high level policy position. People should expect Romney to start campaigning for McCain next month if Huckabee drops out.
Mike Huckabee needs a reality check. He can’t win, not that he could before, and now a brokered convention is all but an impossibility. If he was angling for either the VP slot or a cabinet post, he may have over played his hand. All he can do now is cause problems and rancor in the party and among conservatives, which will be a significant disservice to both. Huckabee should drop out Monday. Or he will if he’s smart. If he insists on staying in, he will hurt himself, and not do anyone any favors.
So let the healing begin. Former Romney supporters will be welcomed (in general) with open arms. I look forward to seeing Romney on the trail on behalf of the GOP, and his continued role in economic policy. While this move will not bring back the real hard liners, it will bring in 85% of the conservatives not already on board with McCain.