Posts Tagged ‘Mike Huckabee’
April 28th, 2015 at 7:37 pm
On Entitlement Reform, Are Republicans All in This Together?

Recent statements by likely GOP presidential candidates indicate the answer may be no.

“Republican governors across the country, including several conservatives, couldn’t resist the siren song of federal dollars and chose to expand Medicaid under ObamaCare,” writes Stephen F. Hayes at The Weekly Standard. “The federal government promises to fully fund Medicaid expansion for three years, after which the federal dollars are phased out and states will be responsible for paying for the expanded program themselves.”

Those governors include John Kasich of Ohio and Chris Christie of New Jersey. Both argue they made the best of a bad policy situation. Former governor Mike Huckabee of Arkansas could also be added to the mix, since he has recently distanced himself from Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan’s entitlement reform package ahead of an anticipated presidential bid.

After three years of party unity – broadly speaking – on entitlement reform, Republican leaders seem to be charting different paths on how to tackle the issue. This can and should be a healthy exercise in deliberation and persuasion, precisely the kind of policy-centric debate so necessary in the primaries.

That is, if the conversation stays on topic. Kasich, for example, has already shown a willingness to demonize critics instead of responding with a better argument. To wit, when health policy expert Avik Roy asked Kasich how he could be against ObamaCare’s “top-down government” but support Medicaid’s version of the same, Kasich retorted, “Maybe you think we should put them [the poor] in prison. I don’t.”

Hillary Clinton’s attack machine couldn’t have said it better. For the good of the conservative movement, Kasich and the rest of the presumptive GOP presidential field should.

January 4th, 2012 at 4:05 pm
A Word of Caution on Santorum
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Quin is effusive below about Rick Santorum’s win last night in Iowa (yes, technically he lost by by eight votes, but that’s a win given the context). There’s good reason to celebrate. Santorum’s late surge in Iowa was truly remarkable and his speech last night was probably the best given by any candidate in the last year. This is Santorum operating at the peak of his powers. Unfortunately for him, the peak of his powers won’t be enough to carry him to the nomination. Here’s why:

— Iowa is a unique electoral atmosphere and one that is particularly well-suited to a candidate like Santorum. It has a surplus of social conservatives (particularly evangelicals) for whom Santorum’s emphasis on faith and family was dispositive — as it was for Mike Huckabee in 2008. The demographic makeup of the next few key primary states won’t be nearly as kind to him.

— Santorum’s timing in Iowa was impeccable. He surged in the closing days of the race, when there were no debates left and when media coverage (and, more importantly, media consumption) was at something of a standstill because of the holidays. Thus, Santorum has undergone far less vetting than anyone else in the race. When that process begins — which was probably about twelve hours ago — it will expose some of his intrinsic difficulties, such as his history with the K Street Project and his long history of big government conservatism.

— Santorum was able to campaign in Iowa like he was running for governor, visiting all 99 counties and hosting nearly 400 town halls over the course of the last year. He did it on a shoestring budget, too, traveling in a pickup truck with one staffer and shopping at Target. While one of Iowa’s great virtues is that it allows for exactly this kind of retail politicking, that window has now closed. Santorum did a year’s worth of work in Iowa. He’ll only have a week or two for each of the upcoming races.

No doubt, Santorum will be a far bigger figure than many pundits (myself included) imagined in coming weeks. His Iowa win, however, has all the hallmarks of an anomaly rather than the beginning of a trend. And that fact — combined with the inability of conservatives to rally around any one candidate — will have Mitt Romney smiling all the way to the GOP Convention in Tampa.

December 6th, 2011 at 4:43 pm
Sorry, Gents — It Won’t be Santorum
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Ashton and Quin posit some ideas below for why former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum (a man I admire) hasn’t become a significant candidate in the Republican presidential field. Let me tackle a few of these suppositions and then explain why I think Santorum’s campaign is in the basement — and why it will stay there.

Ashton wonders if the media has an aversion to Santorum because of his stances on social issues. I doubt it. Mike Huckabee was the social conservative candidate du jour in 2008 and he got plenty of press coverage. The fact that the media mandarins are often unsympathetic to people of faith doesn’t keep them from covering religious candidates– it usually just means they’ll cover them with scorn. It’s been 25 years since Pat Robertson ran for president and the press is still taking their shots at him

Quin is correct to note that Santorum consistently shows a very strong grasp of the issues in debates. He’s also correct to note that the former senator gets very little camera time at these forums. That latter fact, however, doesn’t explain Santorum’s failure to catch on. The time a candidate gets in a debate is a lagging indicator of his relevancy, not a leading one. Herman Cain didn’t get much attention in early debates either, but he maximized what time he had and his performances led to his rise in the polls. The same was true of Newt Gingrich early on. Ditto Huckabee in 2008. If a second-tier candidate wants to get into the first tier, he has to know how to exploit the few openings that come his way. Santorum doesn’t.

Like Quin, I don’t put much stock in the argument about Santorum as a loser because of his performance in the 2006 Pennsylvania senate race. Those are calculations that are primarily made by beltway types for beltway types.

Of all the diagnoses, I think Quin’s point about Santorum’s failure to win style points in the debates is closest to the mark, though I would take it much farther. Santorum actively hurts himself in these forums. He has a seemingly unshakable tendency to come off petulant, complaining about how much time he gets and boasting about his congressional record in a manner so ostentatiously self-regarding as to be off-putting.

It’s also important to remember that “style points” matter (just ask Rick Perry). Style, particularly in the way you communicate, is one of the major levers of presidential power, though it’s not always sufficient (just ask Barack Obama). Santorum conveys no personal warmth, humor, or sense of personality whatsoever. He seems just as bland as Tim Pawlenty once did behind the podium.

That may seem like a superficial standard by which to judge a possible president, but it’s one of the standards we use (it’s a lot less operative at other levels, including the senate, which is why Santorum hasn’t had this problem before). Americans have an emotional attachment to the presidency and they’re always implicitly asking themselves “Is this the person I want in my living room for four years? Is this the person I want to rally behind in a time of crisis?” Unless and until Santorum can figure out how to convince voters to answer those questions in the affirmative, he’ll remain mired in the single digits.

November 23rd, 2011 at 3:52 pm
Update: Huckabee NOT Endorsing Romney (But Thune Is)

Apparently, the media – and I – misread Mike Huckabee’s remarks to South Carolina Tea Party members as an endorsement of GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney.  Here’s a fuller quote of Huckabee’s answer to whether conservatives should stay home on Election Day 2012 if Romney is the Republican nominee:

“It would be real tragic if they stayed out. Mitt Romney may not be their first choice, but Mitt Romney every day of the week and twice on Sunday is going to be a much more effective president for issues that they care about than Barack Obama.”

In other news, one-time 2012 aspirant Senator John Thune (R-SD) did endorse Romney today in Iowa.  Even without Huckabee’s support, Romney is building up Beltway conservative bona fides with Thune and freshman Senator Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) coming on board.

November 22nd, 2011 at 7:27 pm
Huckabee Endorses Romney, Tells Tea Party To Do the Same

In a head-scratching move, Mike Huckabee told South Carolina Tea Partiers that it’s time to support Mitt Romney for president.  How’s this for emphasis:

“I think Republicans and conservatives and the Tea Party need to get behind him and say, ‘You may not be our first choice, but between you and Obama, I’ll vote 40 times to get you elected,” Huckabee said.

The biggest loser with the socially conservative Huckabee’s endorsement of the socially moderate Romney is GOP candidate Rick Santorum.  Pundit chatter pegged Santorum as the beneficiary of the anti-Romney social conservatives in Iowa, but current poll numbers show Santorum still trailing badly.  There’s still time for him to make a move, but Huckabee’s endorsement of Romney just cut it in half.

May 27th, 2011 at 8:49 pm
Second Round of GOP Presidential Candidates Coming?
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In my column this week and a discussion here on the Freedom Line blog with Tim, we focused on the current state of the GOP presidential field, which has been defined in recent weeks by a series of high profile non-starters: Mike Huckabee, Mitch Daniels, Haley Barbour, Donald Trump, and John Thune, amongst others. After Daniels — the most recent to take a pass — made his intentions public last weekend, conventional wisdom began to congeal around two intertwined propositions: that the GOP field was essentially set and that grassroots Republicans were dissatisfied with the field. Not so quick.

Not only is the field not set in stone, it may be about to get a shot in the arm courtesy of three potentially top-tier candidates. Reports this week have Rudy Giuliani, Sarah Palin, and Rick Perry all seriously eying a run. For those keeping score at home that’s one of the most successful Republican executives in the last half century, the most dynamic personality that the GOP has produced since Reagan, and the governor of a state that has been an economic powerhouse in the midst of a national downturn, respectively. Get ready for an interesting summer.

May 23rd, 2011 at 7:26 pm
Pawlenty in Iowa No-Win Situation?

Roll Call speculates that with governors Mitch Daniels (R-IN) and Mike Huckabee (R-AR) not running for president in 2012, the possibility of Tim Pawlenty winning the Iowa caucuses is diminished.  With T-Paw’s operation making him look like an earlier frontrunner in Iowa, maybe he’ll get no steam heading into the New Hampshire primary.

That seems unlikely for one important reason.  As of today, the New Hampshire primary is expected to be on February 14th – eight days after Iowa’s caucuses.  If that holds, the media won’t be able to stop talking about Pawlenty’s immediate frontrunner status.  The media will crave a news story and a T-Paw win will put his campaign front and center.

If Pawlenty wins Iowa, all eyes will be on him.  If he loses, he may be one more loss away from irrelevance.

February 25th, 2011 at 2:10 pm
Media Announces Start of GOP 2012 Campaign

Like emaciated jackals hungry for fresh meat MSNBC’s political staff announced today that the GOP 2012 campaign is now underway.  The reason?  Mike Huckabee (R-AR) made the rather unsurprising link between Massachusetts’ individual mandate law passed under then-Governor Mitt Romney (R-MA) and the almost identical requirement in ObamaCare.  Mitt’s “RomneyCare” problem has been so well documented it’s not worth a verifying hyperlink.

That said, the fact that Huckabee’s identifying of the main obstacle in Romney’s path to the GOP nomination is being treated like a campaign salvo is too much; especially since neither man has formally announced a candidacy.  At the earliest, it looks like Newt Gingrich might be the first to take the plunge sometime next month.  For now, MSNBC’s announcement is just the latest attempt to goad the pack of likely candidates into justifying a political reporter’s salary.

January 21st, 2011 at 1:39 pm
Huckabee in Pole Position for GOP 2012 Nomination

Surprisingly, former Governor Mike Huckabee (R-AR) comfortably leads all other likely Republican contenders for the party’s 2012 presidential nomination.  Though the lead is of dubious predictive value, the Other Man From Hope, Arkansas continues to be a genuine political force attractive to millions of Americans.  He did, after all, win the 2008 Iowa caucuses and come within a hair’s breath of winning Missouri’s primary.  Had he won the latter, the nomination fight would have boiled down to him and Senator John McCain (R-AZ), with favorable odds for an eventual Huckabee win.

So far, Huckabee says he won’t make a final decision on running until this summer.  The reason being his distaste for an 18-month campaign; a distaste shared by many voters.  Though Huckabee ran afoul of some fiscal conservative groups for some infrastructure spending increases he implemented as governor, he rightly pointed out that all of them were either mandated by federal judicial rulings, or popularly approved by Arkansas voters.

From all accounts Huckabee is probably the most normal person likely to run for president this cycle.  That alone may explain his widespread appeal.  Time will tell if it is enough to get him the nomination this time.

H/T: Political Wire

January 3rd, 2011 at 5:09 pm
Demography Is Destiny; So Too Running Mates?

With much of the 2012 presidential election coverage centering on Republican candidates, it’s worth noting – as this blog from the National Interest does – that President Barack Obama posted lopsided support among African-American and Hispanic voters during the 2008 campaign (95% and 67%, respectively).  Those numbers will likely grow as Hispanics continue to increase their share of the voting base.

So, what’s a WASP-ish GOP frontrunner like Mitt Romney, Mike Huckabee, or even Sarah Palin to do?  Any contestant eyeing a general election takedown of Obama-Biden (or even, heaven forbid, Obama-Clinton) should make travel plans for Santa Fe, New Mexico.  There newly inaugurated Governor Susana Martinez can teach them how to frame a winning position on illegal immigration: “It’s not about the Mexican population.  It’s about the Mexican border.”

That message, combined with Martinez’s career as a state prosecutor and traditional values stances, earned her 30% of the Hispanic vote in a heavily Democratic state.  It’s the kind of success story that just might earn her a place as the next Vice President of the United States.

December 13th, 2010 at 10:54 pm
Obama Makes Huckabee’s Jaw Hit the Floor
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Whether or not he ends up being a presidential candidate in 2012, Mike Huckabee is already making his mark as one of President Obama’s most insightful critics. After Obama spent last week’s press conference announcing a deal on the Bush tax cuts comparing Republicans to hostage-takers and bemoaning the intransigence of congressional liberals, Huckabee made what should have been an obvious point: you don’t celebrate bipartisan accomplishments by lambasting politicians on both sides of the aisle. Per CNN:

“The most bizarre part of the whole process was watching President Obama self-destruct at the podium yesterday,” Huckabee told the National Journal in an interview published Monday, when asked about the tax deal.

“I was just stunned – I really couldn’t believe that a man that was elected president was as amateurish as he was, and essentially launched from the podium at some of his own, taking aim and mowing down everybody in D.C. and walking away having not understood that he just lost a lot of people,” he said.

Presidents who are sore losers are deeply unbecoming. As for sore winners? Well, that’s a relatively new phenomenon. And there’s a reason for that, Mr. President.

February 22nd, 2010 at 11:14 pm
Huckabee to Conservative Movement: “Drop Dead”
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Following up on Brother Ellis’s earlier CPAC post, the most notable fallout from the weekend confab may have been Mike Huckabee’s criticism of the conference for being “too libertarian.” Let’s call this what it is: a fig leaf.

After a dissapointing seventh place finish in CPAC’s presidential straw poll, Huckabee is looking for a way to write off the legitimacy of the whole endeavor (let’s not deny, however, that Ron Paul’s victory in the poll does look a bit … well, eccentric). But CPAC organizers are quick to point out that when Huckabee declined their offer to speak this year, he attributed it to a scheduling conflict, not any ideological differences. Thus, claiming that he stayed away from the festivities because they were a little too fervent for liberty rings hollow.

Huckabee has two positive traits to offer conservatives: a winning, optimistic personality and a consistent social conservatism (part of what puts him at odds with some libertarians).  What he doesn’t have, however, is damning enough to remove him from serious consideration as a future presidential nominee. Huckabee is a practitioner of the baser kind of economic “populism” — no one who calls the Club for Growth “the Club for Greed” has the dictional authority to be taken seriously as either a conservative or a theologian. He has also proved himself to be functionally illiterate on matters of foreign policy.

Huckabee, like every Republican candidate for the past three decades, claims to have been baptized in the River Reagan. But Ronaldus Magnus famously said “I believe the very heart and soul of conservatism is libertarianism.” Indeed, I don’t know how one indicts the GOP heresies of the past decade without faulting the party for losing touch with its libertarian roots. Huckabee is a terrific guy; but I think it’s time for the movement to acknowledge that he might be a Democrat if only that party was a little less secular.

November 9th, 2009 at 4:56 pm
More Proof Fiscal Conservatism Is Gaining Political Clout

What a difference an election cycle makes. Today, the Club for Growth (CFG), a pro-free-market political action committee, endorsed Marco Rubio for the open Florida Senate seat. Somewhat surprisingly, Charlie Crist, the other contender for the Republican nomination, sidestepped lashing out at CFG. Instead, his campaign played the part of misunderstood statesman, vowing cooperation even though he didn’t get CFG’s support.

While Marco Rubio has a record of raising taxes and spending exorbitantly, Charlie Crist is a true fiscal conservative and looks forward to working with the Club for Growth on their shared goals as Florida’s next US Senator.”

Two years ago, presidential candidate Mike Huckabee also failed to get CFG’s endorsement. His reaction wasn’t as conciliatory. Here’s a link to Huckabee defending his views on the “Club for Greed.”

Unlike Huckabee, Crist can’t rely on a background as a preacher with a conservative social agenda to compensate for his fiscal management as governor. As the movement for lower taxes and smaller government picks up momentum going into next year’s mid-term elections, the rhetoric of Republican campaigns will be decidedly more cautious in dismissing fiscal conservatives.

September 28th, 2009 at 5:56 pm
Video: Mike Huckabee on the United Nations

Following last week’s General Assembly meetings at the United Nations, former Arkansas Governor and presidential candidate Mike Huckabee gave his impressions of the world body during a speech at the How To Take Back America Conference in St. Louis.

“It’s time to say enough of the American taxpayer’s dollar being spent on something that may have been a noble idea, but has become a disgrace,” said Huckabee to the cheering audience. “[The U.N.] has become the international equivalent of ACORN.”