Grinnell - One of Huckabee's biggest applause lines at his final appearance before the caucuses -- onlookers packed a veterans' center, the crowd was maybe 25% weary journalists -- was not about faith or process, but the following:
One thing the government can do is get rid of the current tax code. I want to make sure poor people get at least a shot at getting rich without the government breathing down their necks.
I'd say the only mid-speech cheer that was bigger was for the line, "We must protect the innocent in this country." Now, is Huckabee's tax plan -- which Jon Chait on this site called "crazier, by an order of magnitude, than any other crazy idea I've seen at the national level" -- really significantly less crazy than Ron Paul's plan to abolish the IRS? Huckabee gets a lot of love for his tax stance, especially now that his stump speech has cooled it on faith-pimping. His supporters are far from being only home-schoolers with the Jesus fish on the back of their cars. At Huckabee events, you meet a number of fans who are also hot for Paul.
I bring this up neither to defend Paul or yoke Huckabee to some lunatic, but merely to point out that both he and, to some extent, Huckabee have tapped into a huge constitutionalist, limited-government, non-foreign-interventionist sentiment here. (Funny because Huck didn't start his campaign on a limited-government tack; to the contrary! But I get the sense the Club for Growth attacks on him as a big spender have hardly made a bit of difference.)
As our beloved Talkbacker williamyard put it in comments, Paul is a pretty mockable political vehicle. (It's soooo fun to talk about the gold standard. And doesn't he disbelieve evolution?) Try this idea out, though: Barry Goldwater : Ronald Reagan :: Ron Paul : ________.
This isn't perfectly apt; it's a little overheated; I doubt history will judge Ron Paul as the fulcrum of a major movement turn like we now see Goldwater. But yesterday I accidentally wandered into a Ron Paul rally on the third floor of my hotel. It was as packed as any Republican event I've seen, and the people in attendance looked just like the people at every other Republican event I've seen -- young, old, dumpy clothes and fancy suits. The simmer that's bobbed him up to the surface isn't going away.