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With Kim Davis, Mike Huckabee Scores off Donald Trump

Gov. Mike Huckabee was the guest star at Kim Davis’s freedom rally–and showed fellow Republicans how to beat Donald Trump, or at least keep the 2016 presidential race competitive.

The race for the Republican nomination is not going to be won with letters to the editor. Candidates will have to be bold–or they will have to go home early.

At times, the Davis/Huckabee rally looked less like a news event and more like the ending of the Coen brothers’ classic, O Brother, Where Art Thou? There was the self-proclaimed hillbilly in overalls and a straw hat; there was the opportunistic governor; there was the old-timey music. (Well, “Eye of the Tiger” is old-timey in some places.)

Several Republican candidates showed up to visit with Davis before she was released from jail after her contempt of court charge was suspended, on the condition that her subordinates be allowed to issue marriage licenses to gay couples. But Huckabee picked his moment in the spotlight, and basked in it, while the news camera lights blinked.

The speech he gave was arguably the best anyone has given yet on the campaign trail–a strident defense of basic American constitutional values, mixed with passionate declarations of faith. It was showy–and it was fantastic.

Other candidates should take note. Pick an issue, find a constituency, and go big. That is how the race will be won.

Update: It appears Huckabee “boxed out” Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), who was present in Kentucky, but was blocked by a Huckabee aide from appearing with Davis. Rather than create a scene, Cruz relented. The race is about to get scrappy.

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