Sad news for all who hoped that Baptist preacher and former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee would be the 2008 Republican presidential nominee. It won't be happening.
After finishing a competitive second to senior citizen John McCain in Saturday's South Carolina primary, the Huckster took Sunday off and flew to Texas for a barbecue fundraiser at the ranch of his celebrity supporter Chuck Norris.
The Baltimore Sun's political blog reports that Huck's campaign brain trust decided to let him go alone on this one day off, with senior staff staying behind in Little Rock to prep for the Florida primary, which takes place this coming Saturday.
There was a press conference at the ranch, and Norris chose to say more than a few words. He took some time to "handicap" the Republican field, offering his thoughts on Huck's opponents. Willard Mitt Romney (the only candidate for president in modern U.S. history for whom the press has agreed to uniformly ignore his first name) was described by Chuck as "shallow," a man with no heart who spews scripted lines on cue. So far so good.
But then came the Norris analysis of John McCain. The 67 year old former karate champion opined that the Arizona senator, age 71, is simply too old for the job of president of the United States. Norris, an apparent amateur geneticist on the side, added that a president ages at a "3 to 1" ratio, and thus McCain will be 84 years old at the end of his first term in office.
Chuck's thought about this. He said he'd seen the current president age in office, and the elder Bush, too, and that we don't need someone as old as McCain in such an important job. He went on about it. It wasn't something he said merely in passing.
There's just one problem: Ronald Reagan, beloved hero to Republicans everywhere, was 71 years old when he took the oath of office in January of 1981. He was overwhelmingly reelected four years later.
Perhaps Reagan was too old at the start, or at the end. But he's the FDR of the modern Republican party, the only president Republican candidates evoke in their debates.
More importantly, the AARP generation votes in numbers far greater than any other age demographic. And Florida, where Huckabee desperately needs to win this coming weekend, has zillions of retirees.
Every socially conservative evangelical in the sunshine state who is "of a certain age" has just been dissed, big time. Since their vote is unlikely to go to the cross-dressing, pro-choice, pro-gay rights former mayor of New York, or to a Mormon, it seems McCain is in the cat bird's seat.
Political consultant Chuck Norris: buffoon. Mike Huckabee candidacy: R.I.P.