Friday, October 26, 2007

maybe he is bought and paid for...by el presidente bush's religious crowd...

if that's the case, mike....go the hell on...

Another Man From Hope
Who is Mike Huckabee?

Friday, October 26, 2007 12:01 a.m. EDT

Republicans have won five of the last seven presidential elections by running candidates who broadly fit the Ronald Reagan model--fiscally conservative, and firmly but not harshly conservative on social issues. The wide-open race for the 2008 GOP nomination has generated two new approaches.

Rudy Giuliani, for example, isn't running away from his socially liberal views, although he has modified them. But he is campaigning as a staunch, even acerbic economic conservative. Should he win the nomination, conventional wisdom has it he may balance the ticket by picking former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee as a running mate.

Mr. Huckabee, on the other hand, is running hard right on social issues but liberal-populist on some economic issues. This may help explain why the affable, golden-tongued Baptist minister was the clear favorite at the pro-life Family Research Council's national forum last Saturday. And why Mr. Huckabee's praises have been sung by liberal columnists such as Gail Collins of the New York Times and Jonathan Alter of Newsweek.

Mr. Huckabee attributes his support to the fact he is a "hardworking, consistent conservative with some authenticity about those convictions." He is certainly qualified for national office, having served nearly 11 years as a chief executive. I have known and liked him for years; on the stump he often tells the story of how we first met outside his boarded-up office in the state Capitol, which had been sealed by Arkansas Democrats who refused to accept he had won an upset election for lieutenant governor in 1993. But I also know he is not the "consistent conservative" he now claims to be.

Nor am I alone. Betsy Hagan, Arkansas director of the conservative Eagle Forum and a key backer of his early runs for office, was once "his No. 1 fan." She was bitterly disappointed with his record. "He was pro-life and pro-gun, but otherwise a liberal," she says. "Just like Bill Clinton he will charm you, but don't be surprised if he takes a completely different turn in office."

Phyllis Schlafly, president of the national Eagle Forum, is even more blunt. "He destroyed the conservative movement in Arkansas, and left the Republican Party a shambles," she says. "Yet some of the same evangelicals who sold us on George W. Bush as a 'compassionate conservative' are now trying to sell us on Mike Huckabee."

The business community in Arkansas is split. Some praise Mr. Huckabee's efforts to raise taxes to repair roads and work with an overwhelmingly Democratic legislature. Free-market advocates are skeptical. "He has zero intellectual underpinnings in the conservative movement," says Blant Hurt, a former part owner of, and columnist for, Arkansas Business magazine. "He's hostile to free trade, hiked sales and grocery taxes, backed sales taxes on Internet purchases, and presided over state spending going up more than twice the inflation rate."

Mr. Huckabee told me yesterday he also cut some taxes, and has taken the Americans for Tax Reform no-tax pledge. Former GOP state Rep. Randy Minton is not impressed. In 1999, he was urged by the governor to back a gas-tax increase. "I'd taken a pledge against higher taxes, but he sniffed that my constituents didn't understand what we have to do in state government to make it work," Mr. Minton says. "His support for taxes split the Republican Party, and damaged our name brand." The Club for Growth notes that only a handful of the 33 current GOP state legislators back their former governor.

Governors who served with him praise Mr. Huckabee for his ability to work with others, but say he was clearly a moderate. "He fought my efforts to reform the National Governors Association and always took fiscal positions to my left," former Colorado Gov. Bill Owens, a supporter of Mitt Romney, told me.

Rick Scarborough, a pastor who heads Vision America, attended seminary with Mr. Huckabee and is a strong backer. But, he acknowledges, "Mike has always sought the validation of elites." When conservatives took over the Southern Baptist Convention after a bitter fight in the 1980s, Mr. Huckabee sided with the ruling moderates. Paul Pressler, a former Texas judge who led the conservative Southern Baptist revolt, told me, "I know of no conservative he appointed while he headed the Arkansas Baptist Convention."

Mr. Huckabee's reluctance to surround himself with conservatives was evident as governor, when he kept many agency heads appointed by Bill Clinton. Zac Wright, a spokesman for incoming Democratic Gov. Mike Beebe, was asked this year why 15 Huckabee agency heads had been retained. Most of them were "Clinton people," he replied, not "Huckabee people." Mr. Huckabee told me many of his agency heads had "apolitical" responsibilities.

Many Huckabee supporters have told me their man should be judged by what he's saying on the campaign trail today. Fair enough. Mr. Huckabee was the only GOP candidate to refuse to endorse President Bush's veto of the Democrats' bill to vastly expand the Schip health-care program. Only he and John McCain have endorsed the discredited cap-and-trade system to limit global-warming emissions that has proved a fiasco in Europe.

"It goes to the moral issue," he told an admiring group of environmentalists this month. Alan Greenspan blasts cap-and-trade in his new book as not feasible, noting that "jobs will be lost and real incomes of workers constrained." Mr. Huckabee defends his plan as an "innovative" way to attain complete energy independence from foreign oil by 2013.

During a visit to the Journal last spring, Mr. Huckabee joked that one of his biggest challenges is that "like Bill Clinton I hail from Hope, Arkansas, and not every Republican wants to take a chance like that again." But it's Mr. Huckabee who is creating the doubts. "He's just like Bill Clinton in that he practices management by news cycle," a former top Huckabee aide told me. "As with Clinton there was no long-term planning, just putting out fires on a daily basis. One thing I'll guarantee is that won't lead to competent conservative governance."

Thursday, October 25, 2007

can someone not bought and paid for win....

mike huckabee thinks so...


Low-Key Huckabee on the Rise
By Carl Leubsdorf

Longtime Bush adviser Dan Bartlett, candidly assessing the Republican field, calls Mike Huckabee the "best candidate" but questions whether Americans would elect another president from Hope, Ark., especially one named "Huckabee."

Mr. Huckabee certainly lags in fundraising and national polls, but quietly, even unexpectedly, the genial former Arkansas governor may be turning the GOP's Big Four into a Big Five. He scored a triumph last weekend at the "Values Voters Summit" and got good marks from Sunday's Fox News Channel debate.

And in the key kickoff state of Iowa, there are signs of a showing that could transform the race.

The reason: In a field in which some of the best-known candidates are turning verbal cartwheels to portray themselves as more conservative than their rivals or their records, Mr. Huckabee is the real article. As he put it on Fox News Sunday, he's a "consistent conservative with some authenticity about those convictions."

By contrast, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney has turned himself from an abortion-rights backer favoring an expanded GOP role for gays and lesbians into a sharp foe of abortion rights and gay marriage.

Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani supports abortion rights and gun control but says he would nominate the kind of Supreme Court justices who would overturn those abortion rights.

Former Sen. Fred Thompson of Tennessee, running as a consistent conservative, once lobbied for an abortion-rights group, opposed some tort reforms and rejected a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage.

Sen. John McCain of Arizona has a consistent voting record on conservative issues from abortion rights to federal spending. But he lost conservative support by denouncing the influence of such religious conservative leaders as the late Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson. Mr. McCain also opposed the 2001 Bush tax cuts and championed campaign finance and immigration reform.

Mr. Huckabee, too, has attracted conservative criticism. The Club for Growth cited tax increases during his governorship, while the Family Research Council's Tony Perkins questioned his commitment to fighting "radical Islam."

Still, better than half of the more than 950 voters at Mr. Perkins' "Values Voters Summit" favored Mr. Huckabee, five times as many as backed Mr. Romney. The result was muddled by a second count, including online voters, in which Mr. Romney edged Mr. Huckabee.

His weekend success was the clearest sign to date that the ordained Southern Baptist minister is making progress in becoming the favored candidate of religious conservatives, who play such a vital role in GOP politics.

The first sign was his second-place showing in August at the Iowa straw poll.

Another was Friday's withdrawal of a conservative rival, Sen. Sam Brownback of Kansas.

And Mr. Huckabee's progress was underscored by his rise in the polls in Iowa, where religious conservatives may make up far more than half the turnout for the Jan. 3 caucuses.

Recent Iowa polls show his support in double digits. Two recent surveys put him just one point out of second, although still well behind Mr. Romney. But support for all candidates in Iowa is fluid.

One explanation for his gains is that he is running a more positive campaign than Mr. Romney or Mr. Giuliani. Displaying a kind of low-key charm, Mr. Huckabee has concentrated on his own views, rather than assailing Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton.

That was especially evident Sunday night. When a panelist finally put a first question to him after Mr. Giuliani, Mr. Thompson, Mr. Romney and Mr. McCain had spent 20 minutes wrangling with one another, Mr. Huckabee replied, "I'm kind of glad I wasn't in on the first few minutes because it was all about these guys fighting each other."

His tone has been consistently less confrontational. In earlier debates, he urged compromise between President Bush and Congress on funding the State Children's Health Insurance Program, backed a conditional path to citizenship for illegal immigrants and urged greater stress on diplomacy with Iran and Syria to end the war in Iraq.

Even if he finishes second - or even first - in Iowa, Mr. Huckabee still will face difficulty raising enough money to compete with better-funded rivals in the big industrial states. But the positive impression he is making is propelling him into consideration, and, if he falls short, could make him an attractive running mate for Mr. Giuliani or Mr. Romney.
Carl P. Leubsdorf is Washington Bureau chief of The Dallas Morning News. His e-mail address is cleubsdorf@dallasnews.com.