Fresh off his straw poll victory, with Sen. John McCain (Ariz.) finally out of the way, Mitt Romney now plans to take down Rudy Giuliani and prove once and for all that he is the candidate of conservatives, and most worthy of the GOP nomination.

But the only guarantee on the trail of a presidential campaign is the constant stream of surprises, some positive (McCain) and others just plain irritating. After having to shake off Sen. Sam Brownback (Kan.), Romney suddenly finds former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee nipping at his loafers. 

According to David Broder’s column yesterday, Huckabee plans another one of those New Hampshire primary upsets made famous by Bill Clinton and Pat Buchanan (and, I would add, McCain. It was 19 points, remember?). Should Huckabee prevail there, he thinks he can  knock Romney off the path in Florida, South Carolina, and elsewhere.

Somebody, please, tell me: Why, why, why has Huckabee failed to take off so far? I find it astounding that this affable, experienced Southern governor and Baptist minister with sterling conservative credentials has yet to galvanize the primary-voting population. He’s funny, formerly obese, shops at Wal-Mart and plays guitar. Huckabee has a great line about being from Hope, Ark., and he asks his audiences to give Hope another chance. He is actually the man of the people that everyone thought Bill Clinton was. Huckabee’s message cuts into Romney’s wrap by addressing the economic insecurity voters in New Hampshire and elsewhere are struggling with. According to Broder, Huckabee tells audiences that he grew up finishing everything on his plate because “you never wasted a
thing” and that he understands what it is like for “people who have no trust fund, no safety net to fall back on.”

In this market, in these next few months, with this fickle and unsatisfied GOP base, if I were a venture capitalist worth $250 million, with a bill for makeup on my campaign expenditures, I would be scared of Mike Huckabee.