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Huckabee Vs. Palin: Round 1?

On Fox News Sunday this morning, Chris Wallace hosted an interesting panel. In addition to Alaska's soon-to-be governor, Sean Parnell, the group included Fox News stars Mike Huckabee and Karl Rove. Rove--as Crowley notes below--has been quiet about the Palin announcement, but this morning he was extremely critical of the governor's strategy (if indeed it is a strategy). The most newsworthy exchange occured between Parnell and Huckabee, however.

WALLACE: Governor Huckabee, almost every politician is on the firing line. You may not have been to the degree as governor of Arkansas that Sarah Palin was once she achieved national prominence. But what about this argument, "I'm doing this for my state because the attacks against me are getting in the way?"

HUCKABEE: Well, if that had been the case for me, I'd have quit about my first month, because I was a Republican governor in a state where 89 percent of my legislature were Democrats. I had constant ethics complaints filed against me, even by newspaper editors, and a lot of it was because if they can't attack you on policy, what they do -- they just absolutely bombard you with personal attacks and keep you tied up in court, make you hire lawyers. Been there, done that.

 A few moment later, Parnell jumped in to add:

You know, Governor Huckabee made a point. He was comparing his experience as governor of Arkansas with Governor Palin's of Alaska. And I have to tell you that I think they're -- they're miles apart in terms of what he faced versus what she faced. She became a national figure -- an international figure during the last presidential race. That's a clear distinction. What that means is that she not only had the local press after her, the local party after her, she had the national -- national candidates, national party, after her -- international, perhaps, even.

Ouch! Parnell is obviously, undeniably correct, but then Huckabee made this remark:

And I think that Governor Parnell's comments regarding the Arkansas stage -- I'll be honest with you. The experience that I had in Arkansas politics was far more brutal than running for president. And in a primary, it may not be quite the same. But I'm telling you, when your opponents within your own team spend millions of dollars to redefine you, it's very, very difficult. And she'll have to face that if she runs in 2012.

The italicized section above--the resonse to Parnell--is of course crazy. (See this Gabe Sherman piece for more in the same vein). But it was the second part of Huckabee's answer that was particularly telling. The transcript bears this out, too, but it was clear from watching Huckabee that he meant the remark above as a warning or threat. In other words, Palin cannot expect a free ride from Republicans over her decision to resign the governship. 

--Isaac Chotiner