Mike Huckabee stole the show today, as thousands of CPAC attendees, many of them college students, crammed the big ballroom to hear him talk about why John McCain lost the election the future of the conservative movement. Huckabee spared no criticism of the candidate he stumped for -- even lamenting, at one point, that he had campaigned for McCain even after the nominee voted for the bank bailout back in September. That "was not our best moment," said Huckabee, adding that it "would have been our best shot at winning the White House" if McCain had been a true conservative voice rather than "a meek 'me too' big government echo."

Huckabee was off the rails with the socialism theme -- saying that Stalin and Lenin would have loved the TARP and stimulus bill and that the United States was becoming the "Union of American Socialist Republics." It's the new cold war, only the enemy is here at home.

As is his shtick, Huckabee larded his speech with folksy tales of clean Arkansas living, precious metaphors, and biblical references. Some were more obvious than others, such as when he said that Democrats "want to keep dividing a loaf of bread among an increasingly dependent population," while Republicans understand that in a free market system, the "loaves and fishes" just keep multiplying. It might come as a surprise to many of his followers that Jesus relied on the free market rather than a higher authority. But for conservatives, the two are indistinguishable.

--Sarah Posner

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