I thought Iowa Republicans yesterday would think hard and decide to go for Mitt Romney or John McCain because Mike Huckabee was just too out there to really vote for. But I was wrong and I am certainly glad of it.
Huckabee is the Republican dream nominee...for Democrats. One of the main reasons Republicans win elections is that they present themselves as tougher than Democrats...tougher on crime, tougher on terror, tougher on welfare, tougher on whatever. It's not really true but of course in politics the only truth that matters is what you can convince the voters is true and the Republicans have been good at that.
In 1988 Republicans effectively attacked Michael Dukakis because a Massachusetts prisoner who was let out on a weekend furlough as part of a state program to rehabilitate criminals raped a woman in Maryland.
That's nothing compared to the responsibility Mike Huckabee bears for Wayne DuMond though. DuMond was a convicted rapist in Arkansas serving a life sentence when Huckabee met with the state parole board and encouraged them to let DuMond go. They did. Two years later he committed a murder in Missouri.
Huckabee's role in the DuMond case, where he directly lobbied for his release, was much worse than Dukakis' responsibility for the Willie Horton incident, which happened as part of a larger state program. And Huckabee's role here isn't exactly an isolated incident, given that he granted over 1,000 pardons or commutations during his time as governor.
If Huckabee is the Republican nominee, Democrats need to make Wayne DuMond his Willie Horton. They need to show he's a weak, naive leader who couldn't be trusted with the penal system in Arkansas, much less the national security of the United States. And if Republicans can't play the toughness card, they don't have many cards left.
I don't know if Mike Huckabee will be able to ride his strong performance in Iowa to the GOP nomination. But this Democrat sure hopes he does.