Free Republic
Browse · Search
Topics · Post Article

Skip to comments.

Huckabee: The GOP's Best Bet?
Newsweek ^ | 10/22/2007 | Jonathan Alter

Posted on 10/24/2007 5:52:38 AM PDT by dano1

The GOP is in a deep hole and keeps digging. Even after Mike Huckabee won big among attendees at last week's "Values Voters Convention," many evangelicals have been telling the former Arkansas governor—and onetime Baptist minister—that they like him but won't back him because he can't beat Hillary Clinton. They have it exactly backward. He may be the only Republican candidate with a decent chance to beat the Democrats next November.

Huckabee? Yes, Huckabee.

To explain why, let's look at the shortcomings of the other Republican candidates first.

Rudy Giuliani's performance so far has turned the conventional wisdom about him on its head. It was assumed early on that he couldn't win the GOP nomination because of his position on social issues like abortion, gun control and gay rights, but that if he did his moderation would power him to victory in the general election. Now it looks as though he's got a strong chance for the nomination—despite his GOP rivals' best efforts to hammer him for being insufficiently conservative during Sunday night's debate—but would likely fail in November.

While Giuliani appears strong in his native Northeast, his recent pandering to the conservative base will make it hard for him to put states like New York and New Jersey in play. As Gov. Ed Rendell of Pennsylvania told Chris Matthews on "Hardball" last week, Giuliani's right-wing positions on Iraq, S-CHIP and the need for anti-abortion Supreme Court justices are all deeply unpopular in Blue States and would be hung around his neck next fall. Meanwhile, a pro-life third-party effort (a greater likelihood whenever Republicans nominate a pro-choice candidate for any major office) would strip away a few crucial points in key states. At a minimum, pro-lifers would stay home.

Most important, Giuliani is a dark candidate running on fear. Americans like light candidates running on hope. Since 1928 the United States has only once elected the darker candidate, Richard Nixon in 1968. But circumstances were quite different then. The unpopular war that year was a problem for the Democratic nominee, Hubert Humphrey—whose "politics of joy" sounded lame in that crazy season. Nixon tried to lighten up in 1968 with the "new Nixon" (just as Giuliani is trying to smile more this year), but his victory and reelection in 1972 were triumphs of the dark side.

This time, Rudy would be forced into the Humphrey role, saddled with the incumbent president's baggage. Running in full-throated support of George Bush's war with Iraq (much less Iran) is not likely to be a crowd-pleaser. And his claim to possess greater experience than his rivals will likely fall flat, considering that no one has ever made it from city hall to the White House without serving in some other office in between. Six long years after 9/11, Rudy's "only thing we have to use is fear itself" strategy will work only if we're attacked again by terrorists. (In that case, of course, all bets are off.)

Mitt Romney at first seemed the most Reaganesque character in the Republican field. But he is running a transparently cynical campaign. (Cynicism can bring success, but only if you can't see it). His flip-flopping is so egregious he makes John Kerry seem like a paragon of principle, and the Democrats now have the money and discipline to exploit the opening. Romney, born in privilege and cosseted throughout his life by his church and corporate America, has no common touch. And his Mormonism would hurt him in some quarters in a general election.

Fred Thompson is not ready for prime time. Unless he gets real good real fast, he would be crushed by any Democrat. He made strides Sunday night—but he's not there yet.

John McCain would do better than the other three, but even if he somehow gets the nomination, he feels a bit like Bob Dole in 1996: an amusing war hero with a good heart and lots of friends in the press who is well past his sell-by date and gets pummeled by a Clinton.

That leaves Huckabee, whose shortage of funds will probably prevent him from being nominated. The schedule is so front-loaded this time that even an impressive showing on January 3 in Iowa (and he's running second there in some recent polls) won't bring him enough money to be fully competitive on Tsunami Tuesday, February 5. And many Republicans have gotten into the habit of viewing lack of money as a character flaw. His only hope is that party leaders come to their senses and recognize that he's their best bet.

Huckabee comes across more hopeful than Giuliani, more believable than Romney, more intelligent than Thompson and fresher than McCain. He would hold the base and capture moderates drawn to his down-home style. His greatest asset is that he alone among the Republicans "speaks American." He connects to his audience with stories and metaphors and a geniality that can't be faked. "I'm conservative but I'm not angry about it," he likes to say, and it's true; his gentle mocking of the intraparty warfare that broke out during the Fox debate—likening it to a "demolition derby"—confirms the point. This was Reagan's secret, and it worked for Huckabee in Arkansas, where he won the votes of independents and Democrats.

The rap on Huckabee is that while he can speak fluently on global affairs, he has no foreign-policy chops. But that might be an advantage in November. Because he lacks Washington experience, Huckabee is the GOP candidate least tied to Iraq, which will remain an albatross for any Republican. And unless you believe 9/11 "changed everything" for American voters (if so, how do you explain 2006?), this election may revert to the norm, which means an emphasis on pocketbook issues. In the Detroit debate on the economy earlier this month, only Huckabee spoke with any passion about the millions of voters left out of the economic expansion. It's trendy now for Republicans to talk about their fiscal principles, but belt-tightening and fealty to Wall Street have never won a presidential election.

Voters in general elections are less ideological than in primaries and more intrigued by a compelling personal narrative. Huckabee's story hits closer to home than any other. After chest pains and a diagnosis of diabetes, he lost more than 100 pounds with diet and exercise. He tells the story with wit and grace (as well as the one about his wife's cancer diagnosis many years ago) and would kill on Oprah. When Huckabee talks about broader health-care issues he does more than brag about Arkansas's success under his leadership. He speaks in a folksy and comprehensible way that would match up well against Hillary's facts and figures or Obama's abstractions. The same holds true on education; his support for large-scale federal support of art and music programs to improve creativity (and thus competitiveness in the global economy) would resonate with millions of voters.

Even on faith and politics, Mike is easy to like. From afar he seemed extreme because he raised his hand in a debate when the candidates were asked en masse if they believed in evolution. But when Bill Maher pressed him to justify that view on his HBO show, Huckabee responded with a nuanced and presentable discussion of the origins of the universe that seemed to pacify even the atheist host. (I found this as well when we discussed the subject some months ago.) He has surely said some wacky right-wing things that could be used against him, but no more than any of the others in the Republican field. (He said in the debate that "most" of the signers of the Declaration of Independence were clergymen; only a couple were.)

The stridency of today's GOP has blinded the party to the context of this election, which is Bush fatigue. No wonder all the Democrats are using some variation of the line "The era of cowboy diplomacy is over." It is. And the least cowboyish and bombastic Republican will have the best chance a year from now to win the White House. That's Mike Huckabee.

TOPICS: Politics/Elections
KEYWORDS: alter; fredthompson; huckabee
Navigation: use the links below to view more comments.
first previous 1-2021-4041-6061-8081-93 next last
To: dano1


41 posted on 10/24/2007 7:07:04 AM PDT by maxter
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: dano1

The MSM failed to wreck the GOP with Ron Paul. So now they are trying to pimp the Huckster on us. We are not buying it. Who’s next? Will they try and revive Chuck Hagel from the political grave?

42 posted on 10/24/2007 7:08:35 AM PDT by montag813
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: dano1; All

Huckabee is just a vote split tool and a useful idiot. He is one of the Fruitless Five.

Rudy Giuliani
and the
Fruitless Five


live in concert
Main Stream Media
Drive By Media

because vote splitting
is the only way to have
Hillary Clinton’s Clone
in the GOP Primary.

brought to you by John Poedesta and Rham Emmanuel Strategies

43 posted on 10/24/2007 7:12:33 AM PDT by longtermmemmory (VOTE! and
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: roses of sharon

“When have Republicans ever beaten the Clintons?”

Actually it did happen once, when Bill ran for reelection as governor the first time and was defeated by Frank White. This was quite a shocker and I remember thinking this “Democrat rising star” was all through. Unfortunately White blew it I guess, and 1982 was a good Democrat year so when Clinton staged his comeback, he beat White. Too bad White couldn’t have won again. It would have spared us all decades of nightmares.

As far as Huckabee goes, he might be trailing Hillary now but I think going head to head with her in debate he will do very well and would have a shot at winning the general election. He is not my favorite candidate but if he ends up as the nominee I will vote for him of course.

44 posted on 10/24/2007 7:15:41 AM PDT by TNCMAXQ
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 31 | View Replies]

To: dano1

THAT is great news.

NOW I’d say Huckabee is PERFECT!!!

45 posted on 10/24/2007 7:21:56 AM PDT by ZULU (We)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 40 | View Replies]

To: Right_in_Virginia

No chance for Huckleberry.

46 posted on 10/24/2007 7:28:33 AM PDT by dusttoyou (FredHead from the git go)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 29 | View Replies]

To: TomGuy

Reagan is beginning to seem like Christ to the Republican party... whatever you want to do, you can always find something he said in the scriptures to justify it.

47 posted on 10/24/2007 7:32:48 AM PDT by Goodness
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 22 | View Replies]

To: dano1

Is Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee a Pro-Growth, Economic Conservative?


The Club for Growth is committed to lower taxes across the board. Lower taxes on work, savings, and investments lead to greater levels of these activities, thus encouraging greater economic growth.

Governor Huckabee touts himself as an economic conservative, writing in his biography that he “pushed through the Arkansas legislature the first major, broad-based tax cuts in state history” and “led efforts to establish a Property Taxpayers’ Bill of Rights” early on as governor (Arkansas Times 09/22/05), but he only offers a small piece of the picture.

It is true that Governor Huckabee fought for an $80 million tax cut package in 1997 that was passed by the Arkansas legislature (Cato Policy
Analysis No. 315, 09/03/98); cut the state capital gains tax in 1999 (The Commercial Appeal 02/29/99); and passed the Property Taxpayers’ Bill of Rights in the same year, limiting the increase in property taxes to 10% a year for individuals and 5% per taxing unit (AP 03/16/99). However, his record over the rest of his ten-year tenure tells a starkly different story.

Immediately upon taking office, Governor Huckabee signed a sales tax hike in 1996 to fund the Games and Fishing Commission and the Department of Parks and Tourism (Cato Policy Analysis No. 315, 09/03/98).

He supported an internet sales tax in 2001 (Americans for Tax Reform 01/07/07).

He publicly opposed the repeal of a sales tax on groceries and medicine in 2002 (Arkansas News Bureau 08/30/02).

He signed bills raising taxes on gasoline (1999), cigarettes (2003) (Americans for Tax Reform 01/07/07), and a $5.25 per day bed-tax on private nursing home patients in 2001 (Arkansas New Bureau 03/01/01).

He proposed another sales take hike in 2002 to fund education improvements (Arkansas News Bureau 12/05/02).

He opposed a congressional measure to ban internet taxes in 2003 (Arkansas News Bureau 11/21/03).

In 2004, he allowed a 17% sales tax increase to become law (The Gurdon Times 03/02/04).

By the end of his ten-year tenure, Governor Huckabee was responsible for a 37% higher sales tax in Arkansas, 16% higher motor fuel taxes, and 103% higher cigarette taxes according to Americans for Tax Reform (01/07/07), garnering a lifetime grade of D from the free-market Cato Institute.

While he is on record supporting making the Bush tax cuts permanent, he joined Democrats in criticizing the Republican Party for tilting its tax policies “toward the people at the top end of the economic scale” (Washington Examiner 09/13/06), even though objective evidence demonstrates that the Bush tax cuts have actually shifted the tax burden to higher income taxpayers.

Finally, Governor Huckabee opposed further tax cuts at a 2005 gathering of Iowa conservatives (AP 09/17/05). On January 28, 2007, Governor Huckabee refused to pledge not to raise taxes if elected President, first on Meet the Press and then at the National Review Conservative Summit. The evidence suggests that his commitment to protecting taxpayers evidenced in his early gubernatorial years may be a thing of the past.


The Club for Growth is committed to reducing government spending. Less spending enhances economic growth by enabling lower taxes and diminishing the economically inefficient political allocation of resources.

Under Governor Huckabee’s watch, state spending increased a whopping 65.3% from 1996 to 2004, three times the rate of inflation (Americans for Tax Reform 01/07/07).

The number of state government workers rose 20% during his tenure (Arkansas Leader 04/15/06), and the state’s general obligation debt shot up by almost $1 billion, according to Americans for Tax Reform.

The massive increase in government spending is due in part to the number of new programs and expansion of already existing programs initiated by Governor Huckabee, including ARKids First, a multimillion-dollar government program to provide health coverage for thousands
of Arkansas’ children (Arkansas News Bureau 04/13/06).

These large increases in government borrowing and spending significantly impede economic growth.


In a press release issued, former Governor Mike Huckabee took issue with the Tancredo campaign’s characterization of him as a pro-amnesty politician. Unfortunately for the Governor, the facts support the label.

Fact #1. As Governor of Arkansas, Mike Huckabee denounced an immigration bill (Arkansas Senate Bill 206) that “would have required proof of citizenship to register to vote and would have required state agencies to report suspected cases of people living in the country illegally.”
(Doug Thompson, “Immigration Bill un-christian..governor says”Arkansas News Bureau 1/28/05)

Fact #2. As Governor, Mike Huckabee offered a proposal to give state funded scholarships and state benefits to illegal aliens.
(Laura Kellams, “Huckabee Plan would give aid to illegal aliens” Arkansas Democrat Gazette 1/12/2005)

Fact #3. Governor Huckabee supported a Bush-backed immigration plan that provides a path to citizenship for some illegal aliens.
(CNN 2008 Election Center,

Fact #4. Governor Huckabee refuses to sign the “No Amnesty Pledge”.

The Governor is suffering from what is called “amnesty amnesia”. It is a contagious ailment spreading rapidly through the ranks of the Republican presidential candidates.

Watch Huckabee admit to selling out our citizenship to illegal aliens. He thinks it’s not amnesty, but illegal aliens still get the grand prize: citizenship.

48 posted on 10/24/2007 8:09:18 AM PDT by Politicalmom (Of the potential GOP front runners, FT has one of the better records on immigration.- NumbersUSA)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 40 | View Replies]

To: dano1


49 posted on 10/24/2007 8:10:14 AM PDT by Constitution Day
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: dano1
Let's get it in writing how your Buddy Mike Huckabee feels about what's going down today in the Senate??

Go get his opinion on the newly resurrected stealth "DREAM ACT" legislation, without him tap-dancing around the issue.

Post THAT!!

50 posted on 10/24/2007 8:16:10 AM PDT by spectre (spectre's wife)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 40 | View Replies]

To: spectre
"Go get his opinion on the newly resurrected stealth "DREAM ACT" legislation, without him tap-dancing around the issue."

I tried Googling it, but all I could find was the following excerpt from the transcript of Huckabee's interview with Glen Beck:

BECK: "OK, so how do you fix it? Because you have the DREAM Act going through. You have members of Congress openly -- I mean, I have to tell you, I think America needs to reread the Declaration of Independence, because I feel exactly the way our founding fathers did. We keep begging you to solve these problems, and you cause repeated injury. You injury us again. You`ve got the DREAM Act going there. You have the AFL-CIO now suing in court to make sure that Chertoff can`t go get the companies. How do you solve it?"

HUCKABEE:"Well, you have to start with the border, because if you don`t do that, nothing matters. Everything else is nonsense and talk until you have a secure border and say, "It stops here." The second thing you do is you have to go after the companies. You`re not going to get illegals who don`t even speak the language to just lift their hand and say, "By the way, I`m here illegally." What you do is you say, if you employ people, you have to know who they are, and they have to have verification of their citizenship or their legal status. And if you don`t have that, then it`s you that`s going to pay the fine. You know, if you deal with the demand, the supply will take care of itself. And that`s what we have not done in this country."

For additional information, it would probably be best to contact his campaign directly. Here is the link to Huckabee's website .

Hope this helps!

51 posted on 10/24/2007 9:45:00 AM PDT by dano1
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 50 | View Replies]

To: aynrandfreak
Anything coming from Jonathan Alter and Newsweak is only intended for the sole purpose of defeating Republicans.

That being said, I like Huckabee.

52 posted on 10/24/2007 9:47:03 AM PDT by KC_Conspirator
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 3 | View Replies]

To: dano1


53 posted on 10/24/2007 9:48:37 AM PDT by trisham (Zen is not easy. It takes effort to attain nothingness. And then what do you have? Bupkis.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: SoConPubbie; Esther Ruth; pissant; OB1kNOb; pandoraou812; gidget7; 383rr; NeoCaveman; WOSG; ...
Isn't it appropriate that the first anti-Huckster ping is in response to a liberal Newsweek article pimping him?

Retire the tax raising, open border, nanny state Huckster Ping!

To be added please FReepmail me or ob1knob.

We wish Mike well in retirement, where his liberal policies will no longer be a threat to America.

54 posted on 10/24/2007 9:49:32 AM PDT by Eric Blair 2084 (Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms shouldn't be a federal should be a convenience store.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 48 | View Replies]

To: dano1


Gee, was Donna Brazile busy?


55 posted on 10/24/2007 9:50:24 AM PDT by Badeye ('Ron Paul joined 88 Democrats.....")
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: dano1

Huckabee’s conservative bona fides are that he is:

pro-life, pro-second amendment and ______ (please fill in the blank) ?????????????????? What else exactly?

56 posted on 10/24/2007 9:53:15 AM PDT by Eric Blair 2084 (Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms shouldn't be a federal should be a convenience store.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 40 | View Replies]

To: dano1

No. I am sure he is a wonderful preacher. But a preacher is not what we need as CIC of the greatest country the world has ever known. This guy is a big nanny stater. So unless you want your personal habits, diet, your kids diet including their lunch boxes, not to mention whatever else he decides, to be open to government scrutiny and regulation!

57 posted on 10/24/2007 9:57:56 AM PDT by gidget7 ( Vote for the Arsenal of Democracy, because America RUNS on Duncan!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: dano1
After chest pains and a diagnosis of diabetes, he lost more than 100 pounds with diet and exercise. He tells the story with wit and grace...

Yeah, he suddenly lost 100 lbs at a rate of 2 lbs/week, his hair thinned out considerably, and now he eats a special diet. He's had a subsequent internal hernia operation. If it came out that Huckabee's weight loss was due to surgery, all his preachifying about diet and exercise would be a national joke,

58 posted on 10/24/2007 10:02:43 AM PDT by Plutarch
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: gidget7

Gomer for POTUS? Hardy har har har.

59 posted on 10/24/2007 10:07:56 AM PDT by csmusaret (Mnimum wage today; maximum wage tomorrow. It's the Socialist way.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 57 | View Replies]

To: Plutarch

He survived his near death experience at the hands of that Global Health Menace...Bacon Doublecheesburgers. After seeing the big white light, he thinks God sent him back down to preach health to the unwashed masses.

Preaching health is fine. Enforcing it by Government fiat is dangerous.

60 posted on 10/24/2007 10:08:19 AM PDT by Eric Blair 2084 (Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms shouldn't be a federal should be a convenience store.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 58 | View Replies]

Navigation: use the links below to view more comments.
first previous 1-2021-4041-6061-8081-93 next last

Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.

Free Republic
Browse · Search
Topics · Post Article

FreeRepublic, LLC, PO BOX 9771, FRESNO, CA 93794 is powered by software copyright 2000-2008 John Robinson