What does Mike Huckabee do now?
It's not at all clear. He wants to be John McCain's vice-presidential candidate very badly. However, he's now the only alternative to McCain left standing (Ron Paul doesn't count anymore) in a party with influential factions that despise McCain. If you can't quite believe the raw fervor with which key elements of George W. Bush's winning coalition hate McCain, check out this missive from Dr. James Dobson to his Focus on the Family listserve.
Dobson's statement is unhinged. He has one valid point: if you vote exclusively on life issues, McCain, with his vocal support for stem-cell research, his centrist attitudes on abortion, and his refusal to pander to Christianists, is not your man. Still, how can he say that both Clinton and Obama have "virulently anti-family positions" (which is false) and then not support their opponent!? He is falling off of the applecart, and I, for one, have no interest in helping him hang on.
Superficially, Huckabee looks like an ideal VP for McCain: a younger man who can reconcile the Republican Party's warring factions. Not so fast: Huckabee would appease the religious wing of the Republican coalition, but the tax-cutting, anti-immigration wing despises both McCain and Huckabee with equal fervor. More to the point, Huckabee doesn't help McCain win any swing states. His appeal is strongest in the South, which McCain would win anyway. Also, rightly or wrongly, McCain's VP will get vetted as a president-in-waiting due to McCain's age and gaunt facial visage. "President Huckabee" might be good for a chortle, but it won't be good for votes.
Two names that have been bandied about are Governor Charlie Crist of Florida, Jeb Bush's popular successor and a close friend of McCain, and Governor Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota, a young, well-respected governor of a Democratic-leaning state who campaigned for McCain in Iowa and in Michigan. Both men strike me as sounder choices than Mike Huckabee.
As for Huckabee himself, he has three viable options:
1) Turn on McCain and embark on a quixotic (since McCain will be nominated) campaign to define himself as a "real Republican".
2) Continue running to keep himself in the media spotlight, but remain deferential to McCain and keep angling for the VP slot.
3) Drop out, stop running up a debt - he's even worse off than Hillary for cash on hand - and call an end to the campaign grind.