A short time ago Mitt Romney endorsed John McCain, asking his delegates to support his former rival. Although it is unclear whether the delegates can legally be transferred to McCain (the rules vary by state), the combined total of Romney’s delegates (286) and McCain’s (843) would put him close to the 1191 needed for the nomination. Romney spoke in especially gracious terms, making clear his abiding belief that McCain is the best-qualified person to serve as commander in chief. McCain took the opportunity to note that although they differed on issues, they shared a common conservative philosophy and that McCain would draw sharp distinctions between himself and his Democratic opponent. It was the picture of party unity McCain was seeking. (Romney seemed genuinely at peace with his new role as conservative surrogate.)
On one level, Romney is making good on his pledge to unite the GOP and prevent the Democrats from taking the White House in perilous times. However, he is also amplifying the contrast between himself (high-minded GOP loyalist) with the man who may be his competition in 2012 or 2016, Mike Huckabee. Huckabee seems bent on pursuing his quixotic campaign, perhaps to build a political base or perhaps to enhance his speaking fees. And as if the contrast were not stark enough, Huckabee gives a bitter interview following the Romney endorsement.