I also interviewed the Washington Post’s Chris Cillizza yesterday as well (transcript here.) Cillizza opined on the GOP presidential race:
HH: Let’s turn to the Republican side, Chris Cillizza. Do you see any plausible, or even any decently probable way for Mike Huckabee to be the Republican nominee?
CC: You know, Hugh, I’ve spent a lot of time, too much time, I think, thinking about it. My wife would say way too much time. I think yes, I do. It is a momentum argument. I am not advocating that that is going to happen, but you asked is there a way that I can see it happening.
HH: Probable. I’m asking you to…
CC: No, I do not, no. I would not say probable.
HH: Why not.
CC: Because this process is still about, the president’s race is still about organization, it is still about money, it is also about momentum. But the question is, if Mike Huckabee…I think that the way Mike Huckabee wins this nomination is he beats Mitt Romney in Iowa. Is that possible? Yes. Is that probable? No. If he does win, I think that the fact that his organization in New Hampshire, his organization in South Carolina is not as good as Giuliani’s, is not as good as Romney’s, it probably doesn’t make all that much difference, because he’s a huge story, people like to be with the new guy, the fresh face, the story, and he would be all of those things. At some point, sort of money and organization get overwhelmed by momentum. But if he comes in second in Iowa, I think he’s a good story, but I’m not sure that that fundamentally alters the way people are thinking about this race, which to me, at the moment, looks like either a Romney or a Giuliani nomination.
HH: I agree. It’s a two person race. I’m just curious about whether or not the conservative critique of Mike Huckabee is getting traction, in other words, he’s not really a conservative outside of the life issue. What do you think?
CC: I think it is getting some. I think if you didn’t have the Club For Growth and other folks banging on his tax record, and now some of his rivals for the nomination banging on his tax record, banging on things he said about immigration, I think you might see more of a coalescence by social conservatives, and by conservatives more generally, around him.
HH: Do you see Giuliani’s people trying to prop him up in Iowa? Do you think Giuliani is sending his people to vote at the caucuses for Huckabee in order to bleed Romney?
CC: You know, I don’t know. I’m always skeptical of strategic voting like that. I mean, I think that it’s hard enough to get a person to vote for you, much less tell that person to go vote for someone else on your behalf. I mean, maybe it’s happening. I have no evidence that it’s happening. Look, Giuliani benefits…I think what your question gets at, Giuliani benefits the more muddled these first contests are. There’s no question about that. If Romney wins Iowa, and let’s say McCain or Giuliani wins New Hampshire, and Fred Thompson wins South Carolina, that’s a great scenario for Rudy Giuliani…
HH: For Giuliani.
CC: …because he goes into Florida, and then February 5th, where he’s got New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, California, Illinois.
HH: Ten seconds, Chris.
CC: …all in his favor. So the more muddle, the better for Rudy Giuliani.
HH: Who are going to be the nominees, Chris? Ten seconds, who are going to be the nominees?
CC: I believe at the moment Giuliani and Clinton.