My dislike of the wisecracking Hokeybee is well-documented, but I must admit his persistence in the GOP race has warmed the cockles of heart ever-so-slightly. I couldn’t agree more with these quotes:

From CNN:

“Folks, the reason I’m staying in this race is because I’m working for the next generation, not the next election,” Huckabee told supporters Monday at a rally in Eau Claire, Wisconsin. “I may be killing my political career, but I know this – if we don’t start thinking in terms of solving some of America’s problems, we’re killing all of your careers.”

When pressed further on how his campaign will affect his future, Huckabee told CNN, “I think I’m helping the country’s future, I think I’m helping the party’s future. The party is not well served if it doesn’t have an honest discussion about who it is, where it’s headed. And if the party can’t handle having more than one point of few, it’s not a very strong party.”

Huckabee says his future status in the party is not his decision, nor is it a concern. “It shouldn’t be about me, it should be about the country first and the party second. Not the party first and the country second.”

He sees himself as the lone candidate talking about the issues he feels are central to the grassroots “foot soldiers” of the Republican Party – the need for human life amendment, preventing embryonic stem cell research, overhauling the tax system with the Fair Tax and stopping illegal immigration.

“I think it’s not hurting the party for me to stay in and continue the dialogue,” Huckabee told reporters Monday. “I think it hurts the party for us to act like we can’t handle any type of views other than let’s all circle the wagons around one [candidate] and call it a day.”

Some Derby regulars will scoff and tell me how he’s hurting the party, killing his career, should have followed Romney’s example, time to unite, blah blah blah. I disagree. I think his legend with the base is growing and 4 years from now (assuming JMac loses) Huck is going to have quite a reservoir of goodwill with grassroots conservatives for running to the end and not quitting when victory seemed out of reach. The only folks who will hold this against him are establishment pukes that have driven the party to the left in the first place.

As the race progresses, there is a perception that Romney looks more and more like a footnote and Huckabee looks like a fighter for conservatives and their causes. Now I’m not suggesting Huck has a conservative record, but he sure is selling one. And compared to JMac, Huck is practically Goldwater.