Huckabee: McCain Could Have Been President

The GOP primary runner-up thinks the race was winnable.

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Huckabee with Whispers Editor Paul Bedard

One of the GOP's presidential primary runners-up, Mike Huckabee of Arkansas, says that it was possible to beat Barack Obama despite the downturn in the economy, and he believes he would have been the nominee if the primaries hadn't been winner take all. Promoting his new book, Do the Right Thing, Huckabee says that he feels "somewhat vindicated and validated" that his focus on the economy during the primaries was the right one. And even though Sen. John McCain had difficulty with the economy issue, Huckabee says, "Oh, I think it was winnable. I do. It wasn't an impossible task."

However, he says, McCain erred by returning to Washington and endorsing the Wall Street bailout. "It could have been a turning point" in the race, he says, if McCain had railed against the plan. He also says that McCain failed to differentiate himself from Obama on key issues. On his own chances, Huckabee suggested that if the GOP had adopted the same vote-splitting system the Democrats employed, then he would have been the nominee. He says, however, that he understood the rules going into the race and he suggested a change in the primary system to one that divides primary and caucus votes by the percentages won by candidates.

He also wants to change the rules so that the primary season isn't front-loaded. "You cannot be in that many places at one time," he says. Unclear, however, is whether his candidate for chairman of the Republican Party—former campaign boss Chip Saltsman—would make those changes, says Huckabee.

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