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Politics

Huckabee's Not Riding Into the Sunset

Keep an eye on former Arkansas Gov.

Keep an eye on former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee. Although he quit his long-shot race for the GOP nomination last night and endorsed John McCain, he's not about to disappear. And he may well be just the healer the fractured GOP needs. 

Huckabee, who lacked name recognition and had bare-bones funding, lasted much longer and went much farther in the race than anyone had anticipated -- largely because of evangelicals who felt a little sidelined by the other Republican candidates. The former Baptist minister with the golden tongue wowed conservative audiences throughout the campaign and again last night with his graceful concession speech.

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McCain will win southern states in November anyway, but he could tap Huckabee to be the GOPs healer-in-chief. He may be on the short list to be a vice presidential pick, as a courtesy if nothing else, and he'll play a big role at the Republican convention with prime-time ranking and with campaign speeches that will help rally social conservatives.

He's carved out a role for himself as a leader of the Evangelical movement for years to come, and talk of him even getting a nightly TV talk show on cable isn't as far-fetched as it sounds. In any event, he'll occupy a very visible role for years to come, giving him an important perch, especially if a Democrat wins in November and Republicans look again for a unifying candidate in 2012.    

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