I’m going to step out on a limb here and make a prediction
about the Republican presidential primary: The nominee is either going to be
Rudy Giuliani or Mike Huckabee.

Mr. Giuliani is still the front-runner despite a series of
debates that were supposed to show that he is pro-choice, pro-civil union,
pro-gun control and, therefore, a turn off to conservative voters. One
explanation is that GOP voters are more interested in an “electable” candidate
than an ideological conservative, but this is the exact mistake that
conservative pundits have been saying the party made in 2006. The Republicans
had abandoned their principles of conservatism and had paid the price for
looking at short-term electoral gains and lost in a landslide a year ago.

Given those warnings, it would seem highly unlikely that
conservatives would make the same mistake again. Perhaps after seven years of
President Bush and his failure as a fiscal conservative, the party is ready to
overlook some ideological differences and look to a record of fiscal
responsibility. Whatever you think of Mr. Giuliani, while he was mayor of New
York City, the budget was balanced, taxes were cut, welfare rolls were reduced
and city spending grew at a slower rate than the federal budget and most state
budgets. Even with six years of unified Republican control of the federal
government, Mr. Bush has not come close to limiting government spending, yet
Mr. Giuliani was able do due so with an overwhelmingly liberal city council to
deal with.

If he can hold off attacks from social conservatives and
prove that he has a résumé that
is deeper than his performance on Sept. 11, then Mr. Giuliani may well be the
Republican nominee in 2008.

That said, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee may be the
best man to upset Mr. Giuliani’s bid for the nomination. If the issue in the
primary becomes the person who is the “real” conservative in the race or who
has the best social conservative credentials in the race, then Mr. Huckabee is
the man who will be the nominee.

Yes, Mitt Romney has the most money, but in the rigors of
the campaign that are yet to come, the former Massachusetts governor’s — shall
we say — fluid positions on issues such as abortion and gay marriage, and even
immigration and health care, will become a greater liability than they are now.
As it stands, Mr. Romney is the only one running any type of TV and radio ads
in Iowa and New Hampshire, but as the caucuses and primaries move closer, his
less well-funded opponents will begin to tarnish his polished image.

If social conservatives are looking for an “anti-Rudy,” then
who better to turn to than an ordained Baptist minister and a former governor?

As governor of Arkansas for 10 years, Mr. Huckabee cut taxes
and fees more than 90 times and left the state with an $800 million surplus
that he recommended be returned to the people in the form of tax rebates. As a
presidential candidate, Mr. Huckabee has placed the issue of the sanctity of
life at the top of his list and has dedicated a great deal of his time to
focusing on the importance of faith and a rededication to the American Dream.

For the fiscal conservatives out there who are more
interested in how much money the government takes from you and spends, Mr.
Huckabee is advocating eliminating the entire Internal Revenue Service and
replacing all taxes — to include income, Social Security, capital gains,
estate, alternative minimum tax and all the rest — with a proposed “fair tax.”
It is a national consumption tax that would impact only those who purchase new
items and would essentially exempt necessities purchases such as groceries,
medical expenses and the like. Not only that, but the former governor is a
staunch opponent of government involvement in health care and has advocated consumer-driven
reforms to control the costs of health care.

I’m not endorsing Mr. Huckabee or Mr. Giuliani, but I really
do believe that these are the two men who will end up battling it out for the
nomination. Mr. Romney will not win for the reasons I mentioned. There is also
video of him saying that he will be a better advocate for a woman’s right to
choose and gay rights than Ted Kennedy was in the 1994 senate campaign — not
exactly popular conservative positions. Fred Thompson, while arguably a nice
guy and a fine actor, is just not ready for primetime politics. His debate
performances have been unimpressive and most importantly he was only a senator
for eight years. Ronald Reagan may have been an actor, too, but he was also a
two-term governor of California.

Mr. Giuliani has the lead in the national polls and that may
pull him through with a virtually national primary in early February. Still, if
Mr. Huckabee can pull off an upset in Iowa, he just might have the momentum to
pull off one of the biggest upsets in the history of presidential politics.

Mike Hahn ([email protected])
is a senior majoring in history and political science.