This post should not be seen as an endorsement of Governor Mike Huckabee.
In listening to the Governor's statement yesterday, his entire strategy came in focus.
1. Push his opposition to the Trans Pacific Partnership, while identifying those Republicans who supported it.
2. Win Iowa
3. Win South Carolina
4. Sweep the "S.E.C." primary, ultimately forcing Ted Cruz our of the race
5. Mobilize Evangelicals
Sound simple? It could work!
Huckabee has concluded correctly that New Hampshire is a lost cause for any Southern conservative. It is a "blue" state that may lose one of the last two "red" Senate seats in the Northeast in 2016. Jeb Bush and Donald Trump are campaigning vigorously there. Wise to write it off!
Huckabee won Iowa in 2008. No reason why he can't repeat his performance. It's more moderate. It's a caucus state. There are huge numbers of Evangelicals in the Hawkeye state.
South Carolina will not be a strong state for Jeb Bush. Lindsey Graham isn't well liked in the Palmetto state, even though he represents it in the Senate. I could see Graham endorsing Huckabee, however. Trump, Carson and Fiorina have limited penetration in South Carolina.
The "S.E.C." primary will include Huckabee's native Arkansas, Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee, Georgia and Kentucky. The later has recently gone to a caucus format, enabling them to move up from their late May slot. To sweep these states will be difficult, but not impossible. It is Huck's back yard. He will court support from Senators Sessions, Corker, Pardue, Alexander, Cotton, even, God forbid, McConnell and Cochran!
This does not sound promising. In fact, it sounds like continuation of the status quot! But before we completely write off Huckabee, we should weigh some considerations.
Huckabee will mobilize Evangelical voters. He first, however, needs to bring them unanimously into his fold. This translates to defeating his biggest rival for these voters: Ted Cruz. If Cruz has not secured one state by March first, he will likely drop out of the race. To some, this would be the death knoll for the conservative movement. I say, not so fast!
Our people need to think less ideologically and more strategically. We have three freshman Senators vying for he top job. Are we certain that we want to go in that direction. Our current Chief Executive was a freshman Senator. Most will agree. It hasn't turned out too well!
We must also remember that "no president has ever been elected when not carrying his home state. EVER! Trump is from New York. Fiorina is from California. Carson is from Michigan. Christie is from New Jersey. Do you think Republicans will win any those states? I don't!
Arkansans, Republican and Democrat, who lived in the state during the time of the Clintons and Huckabee will tell you how much MORE effective Huck was as Governor than Bill. True, Clinton is adored by the mainstream media. But he served at a time when Dems controlled 80% of the state house. Huck showed up the first day as Lieutenant Governor to find the door of his office nailed shut!
Huckabee was Governor of Arkansas when Arkansas was a deep blue state. That he accomplished more in four years than Bill did in twelve years is indisputable. The remaining seven years of his reign amounted to more of the same! His success came through creativity and ingenuity.
Where Bill saw "the natural state" as a "ward of Washington," Huck saw it as an "emerging industrial powerhouse." Have you been to Northwest Arkansas lately? Or Northeast Arkansas lately? Have you been to Faulkner county. Or Saline County? Point made! It wasn't like that when Bill ran things! Whether you favor Huck for the nomination or not, speaking as a native Arkansan, I am extremely proud of what he did for my home state!
Here is something else for Republicans to consider. Huckabee received 53% of the Hispanic vote in the 2003 Gubernatorial election. And, are you ready? 46% of African American votes!
Huckabee has always appealed to "blue collar" Democrat voters. The T.P.P. falls right into his playbook. Huck, Trump and Santorum were the first who came out against it. They were eventually joined by Perry, Paul, Carson and Jindal. Bush, Rubio, Graham, Kasich, Christie, Fiorina, Pataki supported it. Cruz was for it, before he was against it!
Support or opposition to T.P.P. could become a key campaign issue. Hillary mulled it over before eventually denouncing it. Huckabee and Trump gave concrete reasons why the deal was a stinker.
Many conservatives consider Huckabee too chummy with the establishment. After all, he did support David Dewhurst and Mitch McConnell's Senate bids.
McConnell's was a no brainer! His opponent was current Kentucky Republican nominee, Matt Bevin in the primary. Bevin is Tea Party, but lacked the resources to do what it took to win in November. The general election pitted him against Alison Lundergan Grimes. Grimes, a rising Democrat star, was considered "as toxic" as Missouri's Claire McCaskill. Those who know her refer to her as "Nancy Pelosi with a Kentucky drawl." It took McConnell's war chest to expose her.
Dewhurst is a master fundraiser and solid party man. Cruz was simply too much of an unknown. It might also be noted that Dewhurst is a native Texan. Cruz grew up on the East Coast. He was born in Canada.
Those who have watched Huckabee's Fox News program will admit that his style is disarming, actually somewhat folksy, if not smarmy. But, he impresses me as a man who could get things done in Washington. This he did in Arkansas when working with a heavily Democrat legislature. Better yet, he didn't do it in the manner that Mitt Romney did in Massachusetts. Rather than flip flop,compromising himself for the purpose of cutting deals, he did something truly exceptional. He appealed to legislatures' southern standards, convincing them that they were on the wrong team. Many switched parties as a result!
There are approximately 97 million Evangelicals in the United States. In 2012 only 29% of them turned out. Amazingly 22% of those who did broke for Barack Obama. It is a mathematical certainty that Huckabee can produce a greater turnout that Mormon, Mitt Romney. In fact, it's highly possible that he might get as many as 40%, even 45% of them to the polls. If he does, he will win the general election.
We must also remember that Mike Huckabee likely has more "dirt" on the Clintons than anyone in the GOP field. In his folksy, smarmy, matter-of-fact manner, he would, in the most subtle way, insinuate that Mrs. Clinton would be more appropriately housed in a correctional institution than in the white house.
The media is somewhat handcuffed by Huckabee's delivery. It would go something like this:
"Mrs. Clinton is a secular humanist and dedicated public servant, who has devoted her life to making a contribution in Washington, D.C.."
To the mainstream media, this amounts to a "benign, if not a mildly flattering" assessment.
To an Evangelical, it equates to, "a Washington insider who is an atheist and clearly symbolizes the current problem in America."
As nominees go, Huckabee would arguably be a slightly stronger general election candidate than Ted Cruz. And, he is to the right of Jeb Bush. While he lacks foreign policy credentials, choosing his close friend, Marco Rubio as his running mate would shore up that void. And, Huckabee has Executive experience. He ran a small Southern state for eleven years and clearly was instrumental in turning it from blue to red. Not to mention from a "ward of Washington" to an "emerging industrial power house.!" In essence, from a loser to a winner.
Huckabee is not a career politician. Most of his life has been spent as a Minister and a Broadcaster. He is an excellent communicator. He is as warm and engaging as Barack Obama is cool and detached.
Even more importantly, Huckabee did not come from a privileged background. Americans are looking for someone they can identify with. Like Marco Rubio and Rick Perry, Huck came from a lower middle class household where living on a budget was a way of life. He would not be a candidate for Dems expected "class warfare" campaign certain be the fruit of a Trump or Fiorina selection.
Finally, unlike Cruz, Carson and Trump, Huckabee has been vetted thoroughly. This is critical when moving to the next round.
In short, there are many things to like about Mike Huckabee. True, the left abhors him. His standing firmly with Kentucky County Clerk, Kim Davis on her refusal to issue a marriage license to a same sex couple, offended some of the more "trendy" Republicans. But it demonstrated Huck's conviction on a critically important issue.
Kim Davis also separated Huck from Donald Trump, Carly Fiorina, Lindsey Graham and John Kasich, who took the "Neo-Con" path of "the decision has been made and the law is the law." Huckabee was dead right about two things: (a) per the 10th amendment, it was the state and not the federal governments call and (b) if allowed, where would it end? Never forget, this is also about the 1st amendment!
For this reason alone, I would rank Huckabee ahead of all four of the aforementioned.