Conservative Christian leaders have started dropping hints that they may opt for a third-party candidate if Rudy Giuliani -- whose support for abortion rights is at odds with the beliefs of most evangelical voters -- wins the Republican nomination. But if that does happen, one person has already declared himself out of the running: former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, who is seeking the GOP nod.
In an interview with washingtonpost.com, Huckabee, who remains in single digits in national polls despite his second-place finish in the influential Ames, Iowa straw poll in August, said such a third-party bid would only help Hillary Clinton, who he assumes will be the Democratic nominee. "I don't see that being a good strategy for those who really care about pushing a pro-family, pro-life agenda," Huckabee said, before engaging in some self-promotion. "If they want to do that, the smart thing to do is coalesce their support around Mike Hucakbee. If they do that, I'll become the nominee, I'll win the White House."
Huckabee would be a logical choice for such a candidacy, though: Along with having served as a governor, he's a Baptist minister and has a conservative record on social issues that stretches back to his entry into politics. But it's also hard to deny Huckabee's argument -- if the fringe candidacy of Ralph Nader was enough to keep Democrats out of the White House in 2000, it's easy to see how a run by Huckabee would result in a significantly larger schism on the right that would provide an easy win for Clinton, or just about any other Democrat.
© 2007 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.