The Herd: A Look at The Republican Vice Presidential Candidates. Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee

Bookmark and Share   The Herd is a special White House 2012 series covering the obvious and not so obvious potential choices to be selected as Mitt Romney’s vice presidential running mate on the Republican presidential ticket.  Each day, White House 2012 will introduce you to one the many Republicans which we believe will be at least considered for for the vice presidency by the now inevitable presidential nominee, Mitt Romney.

In addition to a biographical information and a brief assessment of each potential nominee and their chances of being selected by Mitt Romney, White House 2012′s coverage also includes each potential nominee’s voting records, as well as a listing of their public statements and links to their web sites.

Today White House 2012 takes a look at the former Governor of Arkansas, Mike Huckabee.

Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee

Born: August 11, 1955, Hope, Arkansas

Spouse(s): Janet Huckabee

Children :John Mark, David, Sarah

Residence :North Little Rock, Arkansas

Alma mater: Ouachita Baptist University

Profession:Politician, Talk Show Host,Author, Public Speaker, & ordained Minister

Religion: Southern Baptist

Political Career :
  • 1992, Ran for U.S. Senate in Arkansas against incumbent Dale Bumpers
  • 1993, Huckabee to run in the special election for lieutenant governor and won, becoming only the second Republican since Reconstruction to serve as Arkansas lieutenant governor.
  • 1994, Huckabee was re-elected to a full term as lieutenant governor, beating Democratic candidate Charlie Cole Chaffin with nearly 59 percent of the vote
  • 1996, Huckabee announced his candidacy for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by retiring Democrat Senator David Pryor.
  • During that campaign Democrat Arkansas Governor Jim Guy Tucker was convicted on one count of arranging nearly $3 million in fraudulent loans in conjunction with the Whitewater scandal. Tucker announced that he would resign. Lt. Governor Huckabee then withdrew from the senate race and assumed the office of Governor on July 15, 1996.
  • 1998, Huckabee was elected to his first full term as Governor.
  • 2002, Huckabee was reelected to his second four-year term
  • 2008, Huckabee ran for the Republican presidential nomination but withdrew from the race when it became apparent that John McCain had won enough delegates to cinch the nomination.

(Click here for Huckabee’s White House 2012 Presidential Contenders Page)

Mike Huckabee could be a surprise pick by Romney designed to appeal to the Southern and evangelical base of the G.O.P. which need to find a good reason to vote Mitt. But picking him could also be a decision to appeal to independent voters. While Huckabee is not necessarily considered a big independent vote getter, if given that mission in a campaign for Vice President, Huckabee could do a good job. His ability to articulate issues in a folksy, down-to-earth manner is quite effective and his command of the issues is admirable.

Some suggest that bad blood from the 2008 Republican nomination contest, still exists between Romney and Huckabee.  And they are probably right.  However contrary to those who believe that will prevent Romney from picking Huckabee or Huckabee from jumping at the chance to be one heartbeat away from the Oval Office, that bad blood will not be the reason for it to actually happen.  Bad blood did not prevent Huckabee from inviting Romney on to his to weekly Fox News show.  Huckabee did not let bad blood get in  the way of ratings for his show, nor did it allow Romney to get in the way some free airtime.  Hard feelings did not prevent John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson from teaming up.  And it didn’t keep Ronald Reagan from calling upon George H. W. Bush to be his Vice President.  So neither Romney or Huckabee will let the campaign rhetoric of 2008 get in their way either.  And both men genuinely know that defeating Barack Obama in  the election is the only thing they need to concern themselves with.

That leaves only a few reasons for why it may not happen.

Romney may easily conclude that there are other better suited running mates who can bring a better advantage to the ticket  regarding a particular state’s electoral college vote, or who can perhaps better appeal to certain needed demographic that Romney needs to win.  Another reason could be that Huckabee just might want to enjoy life and keep making money in the private sector or retire to his lush estate in Florida.

Another reason for Huckabee not being given a place on the ticket could be the same issues which probably prevented him from running for President.

When Huckabee was Governor of Arkansas, he pardoned Maurice Clemons, a man who’s criminal history included five felony convictions In 2009, killed 4 police officers in cold blood as they sat in a Lakewood, Washington coffee house.

The fact is that even after Clemons went on a spree in Arkansas that was so violent that a judge saw fit to sentence him to 95 years behind bars, Governor Huckabee issued Clemons clemency, and he did so over the objections of prosecutors.

In 1988 then Vice President George H.W. Bush used a similar incident in the now infamous Willie Horton ad, to decimate the Democrat presidential nominee, Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis.

For obvious reasons, this will more than likely derail any chance for Huckabee to selected by Mitt Romney as his running mate.

Pros:

  • Excellent campaigner who can connect with voters, especially Independents
  • Can help Romney bolster his standing among Southerners and evangelicals
  • Has a fairly decent conservative record on the issues
  • Executive experience
  • High, positive national name ID
  • Helps to firm up Romney’s committment to his opposition to abortion

Cons:

  • Has a serious Willie Horton-like issue hanging in his closet
  • The material used against Romney by Huckabee in his bid for the Republican presidential nomination against Romney in 2008 could be used against Romney again in 2012. This is not a lethal factor, but it is a consideration.
  • Huckabee may sincerely not be interested in seeking elected office

General Assessment:

Huckabee would make a decent compromise candidate for Vice President who helps compensate for some of the weaknesses that Romney has among conservatives, Southerners, and evangelicals.

He is a good, smooth talking, campaigner who is quick on his feet and could actually make a good choice were it not for the Clemons clemency tragedy, which is far to significant to not become an issue during the campaign and does raise serious, legitimate doubt about Huckabee’s judgement.

Huck is a possible but not probable choice for the Republican vice presidential nomination.

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Mike Huckabee On The Issues

International Issues Domestic Issues Economic Issues Social Issues
Foreign Policy Gun Control Budget & Economy Education
Homeland Security Crime Government Reform Civil Rights
War & Peace Drugs Tax Reform Abortion
Free Trade Health Care Social Security Families & Children
Immigration Technology Corporations Welfare & Poverty
Energy & Oil Environment Jobs Principles & Values

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CPAC’s Conservative Message

Despite Romney’s strawpoll win, the anti-establishment message of CPAC came through loud and clear from various speakers.  Alan West, Marco Rubio, Rand Paul, Mike Huckabee, and even at times the Presidential candidates: the only way we can truly be free is by reclaiming the role of the church and community from the Federal Government.

For several years now the conservative movement has allowed private charity to flirt with and even get in bed with the Federal Government under the understanding that private organizations can use federal dollars much more efficiently than government bureaucracies.  Then along came Barack Obama.  It makes me think of Star Wars and Darth Vader’s line “Pray I don’t alter the deal any further”.

The problem is that conservatives abandoned their principles.  Trusting a pro-family, pro-conservative President in George W. Bush, we signed on to faith based initiatives.  Perhaps we never expected a President who would leverage those relationships to gain control over Christianity and use Christian institutions to spread liberalism.  We never expected a President who in three short years would be to the point of forcing Christian institutions to provide abortion pills or suffer the consequences.

The Government cannot protect our sacred institutions.  The government is using our tax dollars to control our sacred institutions.

The problem is that only one candidate in this has talked about the sort of shrinking of government necessary to get the government out of the charity and faith business altogether.  While he has appeared impotent when pressed, Ron Paul is the only candidate who will actually say that the government doesn’t belong in the insurance business or the charity business.  Mitt Romney would bring us back to the George W. Bush days when faith based initiatives allowed faiths to still manage themselves.  Newt and Santorum would certainly respect religious freedom, but would also strengthen the ties between government and faith based organizations with the same deadly good intentions W had.

This is not an endorsement for Ron Paul, but it is an acknowledgement that when it comes to the responsibility of Christians and community, Paul is more in line with the 2010 freshmen, and older wise sages like Huckabee, who must rise to the top if conservatism and freedom of religion is to survive in our country.  Perhaps Newt, Mitt and Rick will be persuaded by Paul on this like they were on the Fed.

Effect of Debates vs. Campaign Fatigue

South Carolina is within reach for Newt.  However, he must now combat something other than superpacs and media.  Newt now has to overcome campaign fatigue.  I’m sure that all of the candidates are tired and have been traveling a lot, but that isn’t what I was referring to.  You probably noticed about a month ago that every time there was a new debate, you were sure to have a friend who commented “Really?? Another one??”

Add to the non-stop debates at least 5 major lead changes among social conservatives, a growing, wearying Ron Paul movement, and the constant drum-beat from the establishment that Romney always was going to be the candidate and it is purely undeniable fate, and Romney gets the advantage among Conservatives who are tired of the infighting and want to get on to the main event.

Romney has flaws.  In fact, as I watch his superpac advertise Newt’s baggage (more than an airliner, according to the ad), I have to wonder why Romneycare, running on a pro-abortion platform, and all that does not count as baggage for Romney.  He has not yet been able to get the social conservatives to give him the unanimous thumbs up.  But one thing he has been flawless at has been this particular campaign.  His biggest missteps seem like manufactured class warfare attacks that only make him stronger among conservatives.  For example, he tried to bet $10k in a debate.  Who cares?  So he has $10k to throw around.  Duh, he’s rich.  Not only that, but only a moron, leftist, or member of the mainstream media (but I repeat myself) would think that Romney was actually trying to get Perry to make a financial wager, not just making a point that Perry was off his rocker.

Romney’s comment that he would like to fire his insurance company led to dishonest attacks from fellow conservatives, and perhaps one of the most boring Saturday Night Live opening sketches in history.  Attacks on Bain capital have left most conservatives scratching their heads, wondering if suddenly supporting small businesses and risk taking is no longer GOP approved.  The funnier thing was Obama attacking Romney’s record at Bain, after Obama used our tax dollars against our will to do the same thing with Chrysler against their will.  At least with Bain they were using investor’s money willingly given to help companies who came to them for help.  I can’t imagine the Chrysler bond-holders were hoping Obama would steal Chrysler, sell it to Italy and give the proceeds to the unions.

A couple days before South Carolina, Gingrich’s biggest advantage in the debates may become his worst liability.  Yes, the New Hampshire debate earned top ratings.  But Romney remains unflappable.  On the other hand, in Huckabee’s South Carolina forum on January 14th, the viewership was not quite so wide but Gingrich’s attack on Bain and the crowd’s booing response can be quickly found on youtube.  Going forward, more average voters are going to start relying more on soundbites and replays than taking time away from the playoffs to watch these debates from start to finish.  Without something to rally behind, Newt will not be able to recover the lost ground.

Romney won Iowa and New Hampshire, continuing to cement his front runner and assumed nominee status.  A South Carolina win will make it nearly impossible for any other candidate to catch up despite the fact that Romney continues to come no where near grabbing a majority of Republicans.  By the time Santorum and Perry drop out, Romney may have enough momentum to convince conservative holdouts to stop fighting him and start fighting with him against Obama.

Hollow Victories?

One aspect of the Republican race for the nomination that may yet become a serious issue is the penalty assessed on NH, SC, FL, AZ and MI because they held their primaries before February. It has been the case that no Republican has won the nomination without winning SC and either IA or NH. Yet, this year those victories are more a public relations victory than ones that really build a delegate base. Even if Mitt Romney swept the January primaries, he won’t have amassed the type of delegate count candidates would have historically had by Michigan. When he is only polling on average at 25% across the country and a couple other candidates still with money and a national campaign staff, Romney could be unexpectedly wiped out on Super Tuesday.

While the traditional conservatives are split right now between three candidates, there is time to unite even after Michigan and still effectively challenge Romney. That was not the case four years ago when the split among the conservatives allowed McCain to build not just a list of victories, but a strong foundation of delegates. With half of the delegates stripped from the early primary States and the proportioning of delegates splitting them even further, Mitt Romney will not have the lead that McCain had by Michigan even if he runs the table. That has to be cause for concern.

Complicating the issue is the candidacy of Ron Paul. He’s not going anywhere. He can raise the money and has the grassroots network to at least maintain his current percentage of the votes. As the conservatives coalesce around a single candidate, this will become a three man race. Even if the final conservative candidate cannot fully consolidate all of the support currently spread across three, he will only really need around 40% of the electorate to win the election if Paul stays around 20%. Romney voters are not energized for him, generally speaking. Already he is tied with Ron Paul when they are polled against Obama – meaning Romney’s ‘best candidate to defeat Obama’ pitch is already losing its power. When the conservatives finally settle on a single candidate (probably after Florida), that person will likely also pull even with Romney and Paul on head to head match-ups with Obama. With the moderates split, a conservative could cruise to victory.

Super Tuesday could also redefine the election from the current Romney vs. non-Romney into Paul vs. non-Paul. This is possible because the conservative candidate will battle Romney mainly as the main rival, leaving Paul to his 20%. Once the delegates get tangled up between Romney and the eventual conservative candidate, Paul’s slowly accumulating delegate count will become an issue. More moderate Republicans could begin to shift from Romney to Paul as Romney’s chances of victory wane. Gingrich, Santorum and Perry are all polarizing figures. Unifying each others’ supporters will be hard enough, but winning over the more moderate voters could be very difficult, especially if the kinds of attacks on Romney that have been made by them recently continue over the next six weeks. Disgruntled Romney supporters (the elderly in particular) may shift over to Paul giving him both the elderly and the youth. If the vitriol between the eventual conservative and Romney were bad enough, Romney could even endorse Paul just to stick it to the person who ‘robbed him’ of his nomination.

Of course, the conservatives uniting may not happen. An angry Perry or Santorum or Gingrich could pull out and endorse Romney rather than join with a conservative they are angry with. That would give Romney more conservative credentials and be just enough to let him steamroll over the final conservative candidate. With Paul pulling out at least 20%, Romney doesn’t need to be stellar so long as the conservatives don’t fully unite.

Certainly this is all speculation. However, the stripping of half the delegates from the early primary States has bought time for the conservatives to unify that they lacked in 2008. Combine that with a stronger Ron Paul who has gone all in this year (abandoning his seat in the House) and the early primaries just don’t hold the power they normally do. A third party run in the general election is very unlikely. But the dynamics of such a race playing out for the Republican nomination is not only possible but probable. The conservatives will unite. Paul will continue on. Romney will not be safely ahead in the delegate count after FL. How that plays out just can’t be predicted right now. Just don’t think that it is over even if Mitt sweeps right through FL. The victories are hollow when it comes to actual delegates gained. He’ll still be vulnerable. There are States that only Romney and Paul are on the ballot and conservatives could support Paul in those just to weaken Romney, complicating the delegate picture. This isn’t over and won’t be over for quite some time.

Former Iowa Caucus Winner Predicts Romney to be the Next Winner in Iowa

Bookmark and Share  In an appearance on Fox News Sunday, former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee predicted that Mitt Romney will win the Iowa caucuses even though he has not spent a great deal of time or money in the state.

Huckabee, the surprise winner over Romney in the 2008 Iowa Republican Caucuses believes that this will be due, in large part to the fact that Iowa’s evangelical voters have not rallied around any one particular conservative candidate.

But Huckabee attaches a stipulation to his prediction. He uses weather as a reason for the possibility of a Ron Paul win Iowa. According to the former Governor turned Fox News host;

“If the weather is good, Mitt Romney is in better shape. If the weather is bad and it’s real tough to get out, Ron Paul would win.”

Huckabee claims;

“Ron Paul has an exceptional organization there. And it very well could be that he could end up winning because of the extraordinary devotion of his followers,”

He added;

“He’s got people that would walk over broken glass for him and they’d break the glass just to be able to say they did it. So, watch out for Ron Paul.”

While it is true that weather always plays a role in determining election results and I would tend to agree with Huckabee’s opinion about Ron Paul benefiting from bad weather on the day of the caucuses, a recent poll indicates that Newt Gingrich would in fact benefit from inclimate weather in Iowa.

According to an American Research Group Iowa Republican Caucus survey, among likely GOP Caucus voters who say they will definitely participate in the Caucus, 22% say they are voting for Newt Gingrich while only 17% say they would for Ron Paul.  The ARG results were as follows;

  • Newt Gingrich 22%
  • Mitt Romney 20%
  • Ron Paul 17%
  • Rick Perry 10%
  • Michele Bachmann 8%
  • Jon Huntsman 5%
  • Rick Santorum 5%
  • Buddy Roemer 1%
  • Other 0%
  • Undecided 12%

Those results would seem to indicate that Newt’s supporters are more committed to him than the the supporters of others candidates are to their candidate of their choice.

Yet despite this encouraging news for Gingrich, I still agree with Huckabee.

If Iowans find themselves in the midst of a blizzard with near sub-zero temperatures and a foot or two snow falling, the highly motivated, radical Pauliacs  will shovel their way through the snow in order to get their caucus destinations and that kind of committment alone will be enough to make Paul the defacto winner.

Much of this will also come down to organization and in that area, candidates like Bachmann, Santorum, Romney, and Paul, all surpass Newt Gingrich who has little if any real organization in Iowa.

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Trunkline 2012: Friday’s Campaign Trail News Wrap-Up from White House 2012– 11/04/11

Bookmark and Share  Friday’s Republican presidential news round up finds Republicans rallying around Cain, new ads hitting back hard for Cain, Romney robo calling attacks on Perry, Santorum crying out for cries for values, Biden and Huckabee defend Mitt , while the DNC attacks him, how the rich are really Occupying Wall, Street and topics of Newt’s Gains?, Iowa’s Romney-Free Zones!, and operations in Occupy Shut Down Iowa Caucuses? arise. That’s some of what you will find blowin’ in the wind of today’s Trunkline 2012 summary of the campaign trail.

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Is Romney Signaling that He Will Tap Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell for Vice President?

 Bookmark and Share   Praise for Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell by Mitt Romney during a Wednesday campaign stop in Virginia, has many speculating that if nominated President, he will tap McDonnell as his Vice presidential running mate.

Speaking at Virginia’s  Fairfax County Republican headquarters, Romney called McDonnell one of the “great leaders of the Republican Party.” He added, “He’s a terrific governor doing a great job here in Virginia.” and stated “I say nice things about Governor McDonnell every time I have a chance”.

The remarks do not necessarily indicate that Romney is ready to pick McDonnell if he wins the G.O.P. presidential nomination.  What it does mean is that Romney is smart enough to appeal to Virginians by agreeing with them.  Governor McDonnell receives extraordinarily high approval from Virginia voters and to do anything other align himself with McDonnell would quite frankly, be a sign of severe brain damage.

Governor McDonnell is doing a fine job in Virginia and a look at his near perfect conservative record would make one believe that he might be a better Republican presidential candidate than those now running.  However, even though Barack Obama won Virginia in 2008, that is unlikely to be repeated.  Virginia is normally a reliably Republican state when it comes to presidential politics, and is likely to be that way in 2012 regardless of who the G.O.P. nominee is.   So for electoral purposes, McDonnell is not going to be needed to deliver Virginia’s electoral college vote to the Republican presidential ticket.

For the purpose of having an edge in the electoral college, Republicans may want to look at more truly competitive swing states like Ohio, Pennsylvania, Colorado, Michigan, Missouri, Nevada or even, to a lesser extent, Florida, where the obvious choice is Florida Senator Marco Rubio.

No matter what though, Governor McDonnell will be and deserves to be on everyone’s short list.  Which is why there should not be too much read into Romney’s remarks in Virginia about their popular Governor.  The only remarks about McDonnell that should raise eyebrows would be negative ones.  Had Romney stood in the headquarters of one of Virginia’s county Republican headquarters and said of their popular Governor something like “Bob McDonnell is okay, but I can take him or leave him”, that would deserve attention.

Meanwhile, I remain reluctant to discuss vice presidential contenders until we know for sure who the Republican presidential nominee will be.  However I will say that my initial instincts tell me that if Romney is the nominee, Bob McDonnell is not his most likely choice.  As I previously pointed out, Virginia should easily go Republican in the presidential election no matter who the G.O.P. nominee is.  Add to that the imagery of Romney and McDonnell together and what you have is a ticket that looks almost too perfect.  Kind of like the cake topper of gay wedding cake.

Personally I believe that when it comes to Romney, he is going to have to go with a conservative but unconventional running mate.

So far Romney is tied too closely to the establishment and his reluctance to be bold in his policy choices leaves the selection of a running mate to be one of the few opportunities to step out of the establishment mold.  All things considered, I can see Romney picking someone like South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley or even more likely than her, New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez.  Like Marco Rubio, she is conservative, strongly appreciated in the TEA movement, from an important swing state and offers the opportunity to make inroads into the increasingly important and influential Hispanic vote.

Another bold choice could be Herman Cain.  His strong TEA movement appeal and anti-career politician profile will make him attractive on an ticket, and helps Romney shore up his conservative credentials.

Then there is a real wildcard choice for Romney……… former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee.

Mike Huckabee

Huckabee may have very well cost Romney the nomination in 2008 and there is undoubtedly still some bad blood between the two men.  But they have seemingly warmed up to one another since 2008.  Huckabee even had Mitt Romney on his weekly Fox News program.

Picking Huckabee could be a way for Romney to inject new blood and new life in to what will be a news weary electorate by the time the Republican National Convention is held in late August of next year.  Adding Huckabee to the ticket will also appeal to the evangelicals that Romney really needs to appeal to and overcome their prejudices toward his Mormon faith.  As an ordained Southern Baptist minister, Huckabee could go a long way in helping Romney among the evangelical flocks that will be important to a Republican victory.  Mike Huckabee does have some luggage of his own, but when it comes to Mitt, Huckabee would be more compensation than burden.

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