Ed Morrissey's Captain's Quarters reports that Mike Huckabee has challenged Fred Thompson to a Lincoln-Douglas style debate. This week Thompson made clear his disdain for the superficial format currently in use, and Huckabee moved quickly to become the first candidate to challenge Fred to put his money where his mouth is. Good move on the part of the Huckabee campaign. The former governor of Arkansas is funny, a good debater, and he does well on TV; nevertheless, he has not penetrated the consciousness of GOP voters. For Huckabee, a debate with Thompson would be a ticket to the big leagues.

On the other hand, Thompson has nothing to gain from facing Huckabee, who may be the most charming and quickest of all the Republican candidates, even as he is virtually unknown.

What could happen in a head-to-head encounter between Thompson and Huckabee? Thompson could very possibly lose, which would likely kill the long-awaited campaign in its cradle. At the very least, a first-tier player gives an opening to a nobody, who, if given a chance, might turn out to be the somebody who wins the whole ballgame.

Fred is a nice guy. Mike is a worthy fellow. But Fred is playing for keeps, and he is not stupid. I will be shocked if this debate comes off. The advantages are too sparse--and the downsides are potentially devastating.

Fred needs to be debating Rudy head-to-head Lincoln-Douglas style--not Huckabee. A more substantive debate (or series of debates) is probably in the offing with several combinations of candidates--but a Thompson-Huckabee face-off, if it comes, will not be before Thompson squares off against Giuliani or Romney.