Huckabee On The Move

Governor Mike Huckabee

Earlier this year, I speculated that Governor Mike Huckabee would eventually win the support of cultural conservatives and move up among the top tier of presidential candidates. Today’s Rasmussen poll is a small indicator that Huckabee will likely be the candidate of choice for evangelical conservatives. According to the poll, Governor Huckabee has now eclipsed Governor Romney in an Iowa poll 28% to 25%!

Everyone in the GOP knows that cultural conservatives, aka “the religious right,” make up a sizeable and crucial voting block of the Republican party. In just about every “red state,” you simply can’t win without them. So it should come as no surprise that evangelicals are finally starting to congeal in their support behind one candidate – Mike Huckabee.

Despite Governor Mitt Romney’s efforts to woo this same crowd, he will continue to have difficulty bridging a theological gap that exists between Mormons and conservative Protestants and Catholics. Many of the hard core denominations still consider Mormonism a cult and this will continue to follow Romney when he ventures into evangelical circles.

Romney also has a credibility gap from his prior experience as Governor of Massachusetts. He pushed for and passed a health care program that some have equated to the botched 1993 Clinton health care fiasco. National Right to Life failed to endorse Romney even after he presumed he reconciled with NRLC’s Massachusetts affiliate. His prior endorsements of abortion can be found on YouTube and this will continue to haunt him despite years between. Evangelicals tend to choose based on the longest standing pro-life candidate.

Giuliani will never win the vote of evangelicals unless it becomes a matter of taking a bullet to a limb rather than to the head. Giuliani’s support of taxpayer-funded abortion (even former Congressman Jim Kolbe opposed this early in his career) demonstrates both cultural and fiscal anathema to conservatives. Romney also scares the hell out of libertarians and has become known as “Bush on steroids” within independent circles. Pat Robertson’s recent endorsement of Giuliani places Robertson in the position of either being either purely expedient or off the farm.

Fred Thompson, well Thompson has been a major disappointment – a real dud. When Thompson mustered enough ego and interest to finally get into the race, America collectively yawned. Thompson has been a non-start from the beginning and National Right to Life’s PAC endorsement will do little to jump start the Thompson campaign among cultural conservatives. His record with the religious right is based only on his voting record.

That leaves Governor Mike Huckabee.

It has been my impression that cultural conservatives have been holding off comitting to anyone in the top tier because they’ve been waiting for someone better to come along. Huckabee has come along and their starting to feel relieved that they might actually have someone to vote for in 2008. Mike Huckabee also represents the most consistent cultural conservative candidate among the religious right. As an ordained Baptist minister, Huckabee represents someone rising out of the ranks. (Even minor things like his commitment to improving his personal lifestyle by losing weight reflects well with the body is your temple faithful.)

But fiscal conservative groups like the Club for Growth continue to hammer away on Huckabee over his fiscal record and statements on taxes. These are his YouTube moments and the fiscal wing of the GOP isn’t going to let him off easy. But even despite the Club’s daily rants against Huckabee, this isn’t the most important issue amongst cultural conservatives. They want a candidate who will appoint pro-life justices, treat their faith with respect and uphold traditional marriage. They are far more willing to give a presidential candidate forgiveness on prior fiscal missteps than on attacking marriage, religion and the unborn. These are akin to political blasphemy and grace runs pretty thin in political circles. So Huckabee will go much farther than wooing cultural conservatives than any of the other candidates.

For many evangelicals, Mike Huckabee also represents an opportunity for a national do-over and doing that something over right. Maybe electing someone conservative from Hope, Arkansas will be that opportunity.

 


Comments

  1. A footnote: I believe I’m on the record when I said I don’t think Hillary will win the nomination. Her negatives are way too high even among Dems and frankly, Americans are done with 20 years of the Clintons and Bush’s.

  2. Huckabee is just another open borders RINO. End of story.

  3. Thinking that any one person can speak for “evangelical conservatives” is folly. If the Pat Robertson endorsement proves anything it is the simple fact that the “Religious Right” is as fractured as is the Republican Party. Huckabee may get the lion’s share of that voting constituency but I wouldn’t bet on it. His chance of actually beating any of the Democratic candidates for the title is slim at best in this divided, polarized, and fractured nation where the “Big Blue” metropolitan areas will dominate the voting.

    I think political pundits are as out of touch with the disenfranchised feeling of so many true conservative, traditional values Americans, current and former Republicans and Democrats both, as was the political leadership in Washington as regards the visceral anger on mainstreet America over the illegal immigration issue. They keep hearing the message shouted at them but they seem to be deaf and dumb to what they are hearing. What happened with the “Shamnisty Bill” will be a small scratch to the blood letting that is going to occur in the General election. Perhaps Americans need to “touch the hot stove” to find out that they really didn’t want to do it but just had to find out for themselves if the cautions were warranted. The injury will heal in time, but it wasn’t even necessary for it to have occurred in the first place.

    Enjoy the “game” as that is what choosing politicians has become. A game. nothing more, nothing less. Pity. The founders gave us a Republic and knew at the time that we probably wouldn’t be able to keep it. I am continually amazed at their forsight in such matters.

  4. I guess that response was kind of rude….

    I should point out that it was a thoughtful post with many good points. I’m just having a lot of trouble with the idea of 4 more years of the current immigration policy.

  5. On Fred you wrote “His record with the religious right is based only on his voting record.”

    Um, that’s a bad thing? At least he has a solid voting record on those issues! I’m not endorsing the guy, but his record being based on his record sounds like a positive, not a negative.

  6. It is beyond me, as an evangelical Christian, to say anyone person or one issue represents the Christian right. There was a time when abortion was the lightning rod and then gay marriage, now I think it is just about safety and security, personal and financial.

    Leave me alone to raise my family in the America I know and love and I will do the same. Keep us safe from enemies foreign and domestic; whatever that looks like. Be it immigration or terrorism, protect our sovereignty and freedom.

    Let the issues of life and death go to the states. Lower my taxes so I can keep the money I earn and do not impose restrictions that limit my ability to support my family and establish my own social security. Government should not pick the winners and losers.

    Allow me to have the freedoms established in the Constitution (which includes the Bill of Rights) and limit the role of government in my life.

    Whoever effectively conveys that message as a reality will have the support of the majority.

  7. One flaw in the argument is the suggestion that Catholics have a hard time bridging the theological gap with Mormons. The only so-called “theological gap” with which some have expressed concern is the one described between a small segment of evangelicals and both Mormons AND Catholics. How little this is an issue is evidenced by both the fact that JFK won the presidency and the current results reported in South Carolina polls.

  8. Mitt’s religion may cause a small number to not vote for him; maybe 5-10%.

    I think the issue was apparant in last night’s debate. Huckabee answered questions well & Romney didn’t.

    Example: the gays in the military question made Romney look like he flip-flopped on another issue (abortion, etc) – all he had to do was say that he did feel that way & after 15 years of Clinton’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” seems to be working & sexual orentation shouldn’t even be brought up for a job interview for a all volunteer armed services. Instead he was adamant about not providing an answer.

    Huckabee answered it just fine.

    Huckabee comes across well informed in the debates & Romney seems too smooth.

    I’ll support whoever gets the nomination. as a disclaimer I’m leaning towards McCain or Rudy & I do consider myself a Christian Conservative.

  9. kralmajales says

    I think Huckabee is the best and, frankly, only chance you all have of keeping the White House. Ya’ll would be wise to nominate him. He is conservative and yet pragmatic. He is a Christian who values people and cares about them. I see little of that in Romney (who is a Max Headroom, talking head of a waffling suit), Guiliani (who tries to outtough everyone and who has a tail of corruption), and Thompson (who is a total no-body and appears to be trying to invent himself, let alone reinvent).

    Huckabee is the real deal. He has been an effective executive and doesn’t look anywhere near as mean-spirited as the rest of the folks on that stage.

    By the way, I have left off McCain, who I thought won the debate last night. The guy is like Biden, clearly the most experienced and best candidate of the bunch in terms of leading the country. Neither will win.

  10. Don’t count out Thompson just yet.

  11. Kralmajales,

    It’s not surprising that you would like Huckabee. He’s a liberal and your a liberal.

  12. kralmajales says

    Huckabee a liberal? Come now Tom. The guy is probably the only genuinely pro-life candidate of the top tier (I will not speak for Duncan or Tom…who are clearly also). Christians are lining up behind him because he is conservative…and cares…not sure that makes him liberal.

    Don’t get me wrong, I won’t be voting for him…but out of all of the candidates on the stage that night, I found him by far to be the most electable and frankly the most in sync with the values of what I believed when I was a conservative.

    Don’t believe me…PLEASE…vote for Romney, Guiliani, or Thompson….

    PLEASE.

    (smile)

  13. kralmajales says

    Lynn:

    Not trying to rain on your parade at all, but I really don’t think Thompson can pull this off. He was pretty darned funny after he ran his negative ad on the debate, I will grant you, but the fact that he ran a negative ad is telling. His campaign is in desperate straights. Unless he comes in the top 2 in Iowa, he is history. People will forget him and remember only who won or came in 2nd in Iowa…that will carry to NH…there will be a quick important stop in SC that will narrow it from 2 to essentially 1…and it will be over.

    I just don’t see Thompson doing it. He started far too late…and people like Huckabee are stealing any bit of thunder he had.

  14. Prediction: Thompson will fold before the end of January.

  15. I will agree with you about Huckabee, I’m just not giving up on Fred. I’d take Fred for Pres and Huckabee for VP. But from what I’ve seen Ron Paul is a joke. I’d take any of the R’s over him.

  16. Come on now, give the old guy some love 🙂

  17. Oh ye of little faith! Look for Thompson to pick up as his message is going deep. The WSJ has said he has he best tax plan, Rush has called him the only true conservative in the debate, and NRTL….well, we all know about that.

    Let me see:

  18. Geez…I have no idea how that posted…here’s the rest.

    *He is tops on taxes.
    *Presents a clear case on Roe v. Wade while strongly articulating the responsibility for appropriate judicial appointments.
    *Understands what “secure our borders” means and why we should…and will.
    *Is not afraid to honestly address Social Security (also identified as the only true workable solution offered) with a plan that is actually a solution not just a band-aid.
    *Health Care plan…again the only one that allows user control, free market solutions, and will reduce premiums without reducing quality.
    *National Security, his approach to Iran is brilliant (technical does not necessarily make something better) and could not only stabilize that nation but overflow into the rest of the region.

    Watch the others trip all over one another and stumble while Steady Freddy gets stronger and stronger!

  19. I hope you’re right. I just thought it would have happened by now.

  20. Poison,

    If we make our support strong and vocal, it will. I’m afraid the Thompson supporters are of the same mind in both thought and action with Fred. It is our steady yet appearingly (is that a word?)dispassionate behavior that is reflected as faint, when it is more of a firm, even stand that is based on principles of many years not a sudden surge of energy.

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