Is Huckabee the guy?

In the back of my mind, I wonder if Mike Huckabee is the right man to be president.  He’s a consistent and eloquent defender of important social issues, and has a crossover appeal to Democrats and Independents that is remarkable in light of this.

From this morning’s vantage point, the nomination looks like a two way contest between Mitt Romney and Rudy Giuliani.  Rudy appears to be a strong choice to add real estate to the Republican Party; in a recent Celinda Lake poll, he bested the all but certain Democratic nominee in nearly all of the Congressional districts likely to be competitive in 2008.  Rudy would run strongly in the Northeast, the GOP’s weakest region, and force the Democrats to fight for more states than they otherwise would.  The downside for conservatives is obvious, despite his tax cutting school choice supporting welfare reducing tough on crime mayoralty of New York City.  Rudy refused to support a ban on partial birth abortions in his aborted (couldn’t resist) race for the United States Senate in 2000.  After leaving his second wife for his mistress, a decision he announced to the cameras before his family, he moved in with a gay couple, for whom he supports civil unions with all of the attendant government benefits and protections of marriage.  This is on top of his sanctuary city policy and an abysmal record on the 2nd Amendment.

Mitt Romney is right on the issues that matter right now, and I don’t need to doubt his sincerity to be concerned over his recent conversion on marriage, on life, on immigration, and on gun control.  I think he’s an exceptional human being, as evidenced by two graduate degrees from Harvard, and the successful turnaround and stewardship of numerous large companies, as well as the Salt Lake City Olympics.  Many conservatives who can accept the changes in policy are uncomfortable with his Mormon religion, and feel that elevating a member of that organization to the highest and most public office on the Earth would give legitimacy to a religion that they feel teaches false doctrines.  There is no evidence that he would add territory as the nominee, despite winning a governor’s race in a blue state.

So is Huckabee the guy?  He has never changed his stripes on the issues that matter to conservatives, and his status as a Baptist minister and former President of their state convention is more deposit than I need to know that they never will.  I’m hearing a surprising amount of anecdotal evidence from Democrats and Independents that they love Mike Huckabee, and love the way he packages traditional conservatism.

Mike Huckabee is positioned for a strong second place showing in Iowa,  and is starting to show signs of life in New Hampshire, and he is even reporting a fundraising surge, but the serious money, organization and infrastructure, endorsements, and media attention is with the other candidates.  With more states voting sooner than ever before, the playing field is stacked heavily against a late bloomer with little campaign cash.

Having said that, I wonder if social conservatives didn’t do right by Huckabee.  Many of us (NOT ME) indulged Ol’ Fred Thompson, who waited way too long to enter the race, who previously publicly declared his support for abortion and lobbied the White House for Planned Parenthood (which competes for his most notorious client with Libya), a confused and tired looking man in his mid sixties who looks a decade older, who has no accomplishments from 8 years in the Senate, and no apparently policy depth.  Yes, the social conservatives forsook one of our own for “Bush with a Baritone,” a self avowed ladies man after his divorce, who doesn’t attend think church is important.  His best day was before he announced, thus making him both the Wesley Clark and, for reasons already mentioned, the James Stockdale of the 2008 campaign.

The Republican race is remarkably fluid, and early polling indicates a high number of undecided and persuadable voters, but Huckabee (who must certainly top any list of Vice Presidential choices) may need a miracle to win (for the record the author of this post believes in and relies upon miracles).  Can he consolidate Sam Brownback’s voters, donors, and muscle now that he’s out?  Will he continue to gain as Thompson falls, or draw from Evangelicals currently camped on Romney or Giuliani?  Can a strong early showing be parlayed into dollars and support in the year of the frontloaded primary?

Articles like this one cause a big part of me to hope so.


Comments

  1. kralmajales says

    Not to scare the hell out of anyone here, but I really like Mike Huckabee. Honestly, while I do not agree with him on abortion, I think he is a all class. I think our country would be just fine with him in charge. He cares about education, about health, about people. He doesn’t seem to care much for greed or war. Beyond that, he is thoughtful and smart.

    Not my first choice mind you, I will probably be voting Democrat, depending on the choice, but if I saw Mike Huckabee up there, I would think twice.

  2. Add under what circumstances would you vote for Huckabee?

    And honestly Kral…we are just hoping to scare the Hell out of you…literally. 🙂

  3. Sit down. Breathe deeply. What I’m about to write may stun you.

    Mike Huckabee is the least repellent of the Republican candidates.

    Much like Jeff Flake locally, he’s wrong on most every social issue (i.e. – abortion) but he conducts himself intelligently and professionally and doesn’t embarrass his state or his office.

    In short, he’s not a demagogue, he’s someone who takes the concept of “public service” seriously.

    He also talks like a true populist (i.e. on education and economics issues) unlike Tom Tancredo who only qualifies as a ‘populist’ in a population of neo-Nazis and Klan members.

    I would never vote for him, but he’s the one Rep candidate that would worry me in a general election – he might generate enough crossover appeal so that even a well-run Democratic campaign would have trouble.

    The other Rep candidates all have serious electoral baggage.

  4. I was staying in Arkansas (Eureka Springs) from August to October 2001 and the liberal Democratic arty/intellectual people in town and in college-town Fayetteville and both Democrats in Walmartville — uh, Bentonville — were pretty happy with Huckabee’s governorship. He didn’t govern as an ideologue.

    He’s the most dangerous Republican candidate. Hopefully the GOP primary voters are too stupid to realize that.

  5. Mr. Conservative says

    Huckabee is an “Ecominic Illiterate” like many who are “populists” out there. He seems to think we need to “bail” people out of their “bad” mortgage loans, plus he doesn’t understand how free trade agreements work. He also wasn’t willing to voice any support for Pres. Bush’s veto of the expanding of the SCHIP program ( yes, it was an expansion of the current program ). He has also said that he’d like to “ban smoking” in all public places. He’s to the left of Hillary Clinton on this issue. Last but not least, he’s only raised $2 million dollars so far. Romney, Giuliani, Thompson, McCain & even Ron Paul have raised more than Huckabee. The news media is “pumping” him up, plus his former political advisor, Dick Morris is helping with the good press. Once people really take a good look at him in total, the issues I’ve mentioned will keep coming up and he’ll have to address them. Until then, enjoy the good press Gov. Huckabee!!!

  6. Mr. Conservative says

    One last thing, look at how many liberals are posting good positive comments about Huckabee ( take a look at Richard Grayson & Craig’s comments above ). I smell a rat…

  7. Did you see David Brooks’ column on Huckabee last week? One reason the news media like him is because he is a good story right now. They don’t know how to figure out what is the most chaotic Republican field since perhaps 1940, so they are desperately looking for something interesting in the narrative arc of their “story.”

    The only people I’ve really heard talking about Huckabee are non-Republicans, though I don’t know many evangelicals (a lot of whom seem to be very populist on economic issues).

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