Leader Blues

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

TOP STORY > >Hillary is still alive in race for president

Iím going to stick my neck out and predict former Gov. Mike Huckabee will not be Hillary Clintonís running mate.

He wonít even be Sen. John McCainís running mate. Not even McCain knows his choice for vice president ó heís been too busy steeling himself against insults from the far right ó but his running mate will probably be a younger politician from a big state, maybe from the Northeast, with a lot more electoral votes than our wonderful little state could give McCain. Mitt Romney, perhaps? (McCain will be 72 next January, which would make him the oldest president on inauguration day.)

You want more predictions? Hillary will get just enough delegates to win the Democratic nomination and will anoint Sen. Barack Obama as her running mate, and he will accept.

But why would he settle for the second spot, if heís the frontrunner?

Obama is ahead with about 130 delegates, but even with Mississippi in his win column, there are still some key states ahead, while many more superdelegates will stick with Hillary right up to the convention.

Say itís a tie in Denver: Surely the Clintons will broker a deal in their favor. Obama says, not very convincingly, that heís not running for vice president ó not yet, he isnít ó but for a young freshman senator, itís an offer he canít refuse in August.

The top spot could be his in four to eight years.

Even after losing Mississippi, sheís well ahead in Pennsylvania, which votes next month and has 158 delegates.

The Democratic National Committee could allow another round of voting in Florida and Michigan or assign the two candidates the number of delegates in line with the popular vote there. The results were voided because the two states held their primaries too early in violation of DNC rules. Clinton won the popular vote in Florida and Michigan, so she could get as many as 192 delegates against Obamaís 72, according to some estimates.

That would pull her even with Obama. She has about 70 more superdelegates than Obama, and that should secure her nomination. Obama could lead a floor fight and accuse the Clintons of stealing the nomination, but that could ruin the Democratsí chances in the fall. Obama will settle for No. 2 instead of losing everything.

Of course you can throw this scenario out the window if Obama marches triumphantly into the Democratic convention and looks for a running mate who didnít insult him during the campaign.

Bill Clinton will keep campaigning for his wife. In Mississippi, he talked southern, the way he does in black churches but not before white groups.

Itís an amazing gift: He sounds like a Yankee when heís with white folks north of the Mason-Dixon line. In Arkansas, he has sort of a mid-south accent. Call it the Hot Springs drawl. But when heís in the Delta, itís like ďGone with the WindĒ in high-definition DVD.

Even Mike Huckabee played down his southern roots during the primaries.

Now thatís heís out of the running, heíll be busy making speeches this fall and preparing for another presidential race in 2012 in case John McCain loses.

Perhaps Wayne Dumond, Gene Fields and other felons he helped pardon will be long forgotten by then, but if Huckabee challenges Sen. Blanche Lincoln two years from now, she might mention them in passing.

After all, a candidate should run on his record.