Real estate mogul Donald Trump has become a surprisingly credible presidential candidate nearly overnight — he came in second in a recent NBC/Wall Street Journal poll — by single-mindedly championing the phony birther conspiracy theory to capture media attention. But despite the fact that his candidacy has been so far built entirely on a fringe right-wing fever dream, Trump has been validated by a number of leading conservatives, including Fox News’ Sarah Palin and Sean Hannity, and Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus.
And today on Laura Ingraham’s radio show, potential GOP presidential candidate Mike Huckabee revealed that he met with Trump last week and considers him to be a “very serious contender.” In fact, Huckabee wouldn’t rule out sharing a ticket with Trump:
HUCKABEE: Well, I had a wonderful meeting with Donald Trump. I think he’s a very serious contender. He’s going to get in. I kind of went into the meeting thinking he’s not really going to run. Came out thinking, by gosh, he really is. [...]
INGRAHAM: Could there be a possible Huckabee/Trump ticket in the offing here?
HUCKABEE: Never say never. I don’t know. But, whether Donald Trump would ever want to be seen on the same stage with me, I don’t know. But I found him very engaging, and a very smart guy. And I think people will dismiss him at their own peril.
While a handful of conservatives have been willing to tell Trump to knock off the birther talk, it’s astonishing how few have been willing to publicly condemn it. On CSPAN’s Newsmakers this weekend, Priebus — though he seemed loathe to talk about it and changed the subject whenever possible — refused to call Trump’s birther focus a “distraction,” let alone nonsense, when pressed repeatedly by the hosts.