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.

Newt Wins, on to Florida

With Perry gone and Newt’s second resurrection complete, non-Romney supporters seem to have found their man in Newt.  I predicted Santorum would probably pull a Huckabee and win in Iowa.  I also predicted Romney would easily win New Hampshire.  South Carolina was the setup for the defining moment in this race scheduled for January 31 in Florida.  Had Romney won South Carolina, he would nearly have Florida locked up.  Instead, Romney will be going for the fight of his life again in Florida.  He has one week to show South Carolina is a fluke, because if Newt Gingrich can come back and beat Romney so handily in South Carolina based solely on a two strong debate performances, Romney has already lost the electability argument.  Newt swept all but two counties.

Liabilities for Newt include a strong negative campaign against him in Florida which is already underway.  Also, Santorum may not realize it, but he is in danger of doing to Newt what Huckabee did to Romney in 2008.  Newt was right, Santorum should get out of the race.  However, one thing is clear: Romney is not breaking out of his support base and he has fewer opponents to split the remaining votes.  If Santorum were to drop out of the race, Romney may as well join him.

Floridians watch a lot of TV.  They also are concerned with electability.  I will repeat my prediction that the key in the race for Florida will be the January 27th debate in Jacksonville Florida.  If Newt does well in that debate, the momentum from South Carolina will carry him.  If Newt wins Florida, it will be very difficult for Romney to make a comeback.  If Newt loses in Florida, then the assessment that non-Romney supporters need to make is what Newt plus Santorum’s votes combined would have been.

Oh, and one last parting thought.  The late breaking rumor is that Jeb Bush, the most popular Florida governor in decades, is choosing to stay neutral.  Most had been expecting him to endorse Romney.  I think Jeb sees the writing on the wall.

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.

Cain’s Gain?

Mike Huckabee made it official over the weekend. He is not running. Huckabee was one of those candidates who was able to corner a specific share of the GOP market and turn them into a cult following. As the 2008 primary dragged on and Huckabee appeared on shows like Saturday Night Live to joke about how his mathematical chance of winning required winning every remaining state, Huckabee continued to campaign and siphon votes away from Mitt Romney in crucial states.

Even coming into 2012, Huckabee has maintained a Ron Paul-like base of support who will chide media outlets for not casting him in a bright enough light or leaving him out of 2012 primary analysis. To be honest though, I wasn’t surprised when Huckabee said no this year. Any Republican candidate is going to have a huge uphill battle facing their own divided party, the media, and then the Obama political machine. Who can blame Huckabee for wanting to sit this one out and make money hand over fist at his TV show?

Can Herman Cain pick up Huckabee's votes?

So who will get those voters who faithfully showed up and voted Huckabee even after his chances of winning evaporated in 2008? Only one candidate sofar has come out firmly for the socially and fiscally conservative platform, including the Fairtax, that Huckabee represented: Herman Cain.

Cain stands to pick up many of your neighbors who have the anti-IRS Fairtax signs in their yard and on their bumper stickers. He also will pick up many of Huckabee’s fans who are also mainstream Conservative media fans. There is a great deal of overlap between Foxnews talk show fans and Conservative radio fans.

Huckabee and Cain share another large support base among TEA Party candidates. Many of these small government conservatives who supported Huckabee in 2008 will look to Cain in 2012 as the most Conservative candidate who is not as radical as Ron Paul on foreign policy.

Will this be what bumps Cain into the top tier? It certainly is an opportunity sitting on the table. If Cain can make the connections in voters’ minds, he stands to be the one to gain.

Trumped

In the latest Wall Street Journal/NBC poll, Donald Trump ties Mike Huckabee for second place.

Trump has developed an early reputation in this race as a hard hitting, brutally honest, hawk with a plan to restore respect for America on the world stage. He has already promised the ability to whip our enemies, and allies, into shape through tough foreign policy.

Could he be a contender?

There is a grass roots website set up now to recruit supporters for Trump called Should Trump Run. This website has video from the desk of the Donald, along with his interviews with various news organizations. Trump has also found easy access among conservative radio and tv hosts.

With Trump’s outspoken campaign thusfar, many Republicans may be hoping he runs, even if they don’t plan on voting for him themselves. Trump is the only candidate with the clout, confidence, and sufficient lack of political reputation to question Obama’s birth certificate and get away with it.

I view Trump more as a bull in a china shop. They may draw a crowd, and can do a great deal of damage. But in the end, they never actually end up buying anything. My hope is that Trump can keep his focus on Obama and his brutal honesty where it will do conservatism the most good; not sniping at other potential GOP’ers.

And before Trumpites get too excited, Romney still came in a comfortable first in this poll.

The Ten Point Rule

It’s time to do an experiment. You are a politically savvy person. If you weren’t, you wouldn’t be reading a blog about a primary election that is almost a year away. Some might even call you passionate about politics. Chances are, you have friends who ask you for advice on November 1st about who to vote for.

Here is the experiment. Invite your ten closest friends over and engage them in a discussion of current events and their political impact on our lives. If you don’t have ten friends, invite some acquaintances. I am willing to bet that unless you and your ten closest friends all work for the same political thinktank, at least one of them has absolutely no clue about current events or politics, but they will be voting in 2012.

I call this the Ten Point Rule. In any given election, one out of ten voters votes based on the candidate’s looks, age, gender, race, name recognition, name, recommendation from a friend, or the last political sign they saw walking into the polling place.

This is great for the Democrat party. Both parties have grass roots, but the DNC has a bus.

In 2008, as I was filling out my ballot, an elderly black man came to the booth next to me. I could tell it was his first time voting. He called the poll worker over and asked her to help him find “the one with the ‘O’ in his name”. After filling out his vote for Barack Obama, he asked the poll worker what the rest of the ballot was for.

This was a very educational experience for me, and somewhat disheartening. My young civic mind that believed that our democracy was chosen by the informed will of a sovereign people was replaced by an understanding that at a very minimum, one in ten voters couldn’t tell the difference between Sarah Palin and Tina Fey. Actually, in that case it was more than 8 in 10 for Obama voters.

The last President to win an election by more than 10 percentage points was Richard Nixon with 67% compared to George McGovern’s 37%.

The lesson of the Ten Point Rule is that voter turnout really does matter. And voter education is empowerment. Republicans must come face to face with the fact that the most effective strategy for the left in the 2008 primary is now being employed in full force in the 2012 season. In 2008, amidst all the potential in Mitt Romney, Mike Huckabee, Fred Thompson, and Rudy Guiliani, the candidate who was sent to face the embodiment of young hope and change was John McCain. McCain won partially because the one in ten were told that only McCain could win a national election against whoever the Democrat candidate ended up being. I apologize to McCain fans, but an elderly career Senator who supported both wars and was part of the 2006 Republican Senate, who said business was not his strong suit and who alienated his own party through his bi-partisanship and immigration ideas, was not the candidate to defeat the fresh young Barack Obama. Obama was a political outsider who promised no new taxes on the poor and middle class, fiscal responsibility, to bring our troops home, to close Gitmo, to do all the things the left wanted while being all the things the one in ten wanted.

Now we are being told point blank which candidates cannot defeat Barack Obama in 2012 and exactly why. I highlighted an AP piece about a week or two ago that pointed out every flaw in every major Republican contender. Already they have their polls going showing which candidates cannot beat Obama. If we could educate that one in ten on what is going on right now in our country, the shocker would be discovering a candidate who Obama could beat.

When you think about your one friend in the room who is driving our country with his or her uninformed swing vote, think about this: he or she probably agrees with you on most issues already. In 2008, Obama won California (no big surprise) and swing-state Florida. However in both states voters decided to define marriage as between one man and one woman.

The majority of Americans are pro-life. This was not the case 15 years ago. Demographics have shifted, and according to a recent Fox News poll even the majority of independents are pro-life.

These are the divisive issues that the national media and DC GOP instruct Republicans not to run on and not to talk about. This doesn’t even touch deficits, freedom, and shrinking the government; issues that swept the GOP into power in 2010.

If Republicans want to win in 2012, they must put forward the best candidate and must get out the vote. That means you need to identify that friend who knows nothing about politics, and teach them which candidate agrees with them.

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