Conservative Backlash Against Huckabee – Updated Again

With Huckabee’s rise in the polls has also come a rise in the stalwart conservative criticism of the former Arkansas Governor.

There have been several major conservative personalities who have expressed doubts about Huckabee citing his somewhat liberal record on taxes, spending, and weaknesses in clemency of convicted criminals.

First, take Rich Lowry’s latest column in National Review which compares Huckabee to 2004’s Howard Dean:

The ghost of Howard Dean haunts the pundit class. As soon as a candidate of either party spikes up in the polls, he is compared with Dean, who had a spectacular boomlet in the second half of 2003 only to deflate as soon as people began to vote in early 2004.

After many false prophecies, Dean circa 2008 has finally arrived. He is former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee. Not because he will inevitably blow himself up in Iowa. But because, like Dean, his nomination would represent an act of suicide by his party.

Like Dean, Huckabee is an under-vetted former governor who is manifestly unprepared to be president of the United States. Like Dean, he is rising toward the top of polls in a crowded field based on his appeal to a particular niche of his party. As with Dean, his vulnerabilities in a general election are so screamingly obvious that it’s hard to believe that primary voters, once they focus seriously on their choice, will nominate him.

Lowry goes on to list numerous reasons why he believes Huckabee is basically “Huckacide” for the GOP as he calls it.

Second, Ann Coulter appeared today on The Big Story on Fox News and said the following about Huckabee:

“The Republican Jimmy Carter”

This is becoming fairly commonplace and shows a certain uneasiness about Huckabee from some in the Republican Party’s base.

An examination of Huckabee’s record holds that much of their criticism is probably justified from their perspective based on his past performance in Arkansas.

I’m wondering what kind of affect this type of criticism will have on Huckabee over the next 3 weeks before the Iowa caucuses. If it sinks in, the race could once again become completely wide open. As of now, Huckabee has taken the lead in South Carolina and Florida as well.

I think the race is still quite fluid and anything could change if this type of criticism becomes loud enough.


Power Line has a post from Dec. 7 in which they counter the notion that Huckabee is similar to Dean:

There are some superficial similarities. Dean and Huckabee are (or were) relatively little-known governors of small states. Each appeals to an important part of his party’s base on issues that other candidates have skirted, or on which they are at least less rabid. So is it likely that Huckabee will take off as Dean did, before his collapse in, coincidentally, Iowa?

I doubt it, for several reasons. First, while Huckabee is doing very well in Iowa and surprisingly well in national polls, he is second tier in almost all of the early primary states other than Iowa. In the current RealClear Politics standings, he is a distant fourth in New Hampshire, barely on the charts in Michigan, nowhere in Nevada, and lagging badly in Florida. Granted, he is competitive in South Carolina. But as actual returns begin to come in, attention will focus on the candidates who win. Outside of Iowa, that’s unlikely to be Huckabee.

Second, Howard Dean’s special genius–or, more likely, Joe Trippi’s–was fundraising on the internet. So far, Huckabee has shown little ability to raise money, on the internet or elsewhere.

Third, and most important, there are severe limitations on Huckabee’s appeal to Republican voters. Howard Dean made his name as an antiwar candidate, but his other positions were also reliably liberal. Huckabee’s record, on the other hand, is mixed. On fundamental issues like taxes and immigration his record is not at all conservative, and, not only does he have zero experience in foreign policy, his comments on security issues have been less than reassuring. As Republican voters learn more about Huckabee, most of them will like him less, not more.

Those are valid points as well. I am thinking that the truth lies somewhere in the middle. Is Huckabee the conservative champion many Republicans are looking for? In some ways yes, some ways no. Therefore, he stands a good chance, in my opinion, of winning several early contests and becoming a serious possibility for the Republican nomination if he does so.


More backlash.

Here’s Glenn Beck on The Situation Room voicing his disgust with Huckabee and saying he thinks his campaign will implode:

That’s a hat trick in terms of conservative pundits voicing contempt for Huckabee’s candidacy. That kind of drumbeat will not fair well for Huckabee’s campaign if it continues. All three of those came out on Friday, 12/14, so it will be interesting to see what happens next week.

  • If Mike Huckabee, who has more experience as a political Chief Executive than any other candidate running, is unprepared to be President, then how is Mitt Romney, who served a single four-year term as Massachusets Governor, more qualified? Who among those running is qualified?

  • Well if you look at executive experience, Huckabee is one of the most qualified on the Republican side. As you mentioned, Romney has had less in the government sector. Giuliani also has some as a mayor.

    On the Democratic side, Governor Richardson probably has the most executive experience.

    If it’s based on that alone, then senators and congressman need not apply.

  • Michael Jerryson

    Where was the conservative backlash against Giulani. This seems very unbalanced and I am perplexed at this (although it does fall in line with Pat Robertson’s referral).

    Giulani’s been a mayor. Ok, he was in charge of a city. But his liberal leaning and checkered past is far more decorative than Huckabee’s. It is almost as if some of these conservatives are disappointed Thompson is not doing better.

  • There’s always been the backlash against Giuliani, I reported on that numerous times such Dobson saying he would not support Giuliani at all.

    However, since Huckabee’s rise in the polls, this criticism has gotten louder. I think the difference is that people know where Giuliani stands, he’s very open, you either agree or disagree with him. Some conservatives are uneasy about Huckabee while others love him.

    I’m thinking perhaps some of them may be wishing they’d supported Thompson earlier.

  • Concerned in Iowa

    Who ever said that one had to have “political” chief executive experience? Romney’s strength has been his overall chief executive experience, which blows anyone else in the field away. Rudy’s strength has been that he was chief executive of a city that is far bigger than most states — and blows Arkansas out of the water. And, despite concerns about Rudy’s positions in some areas, nobody can argue with the fact that he cleaned up NYC and made it a livable city once again with jobs coming back into the City (which Bloomberg is quickly reversing).

    My beef with Huckabee is that he is self proclaiming himself as an authentic conservative when he’s nothing but a RINO! If it weren’t for the media promoting him, his campaign never would have taken off and he’d still be a nice guy stuck in the second tier. Yes, he’s using Clinton tactics (wonder where he learned those?) in initiating a “whisper campaign” against Romney and his Mormon faith. So the Radical Right in Iowa has jumped on board.

    These are the same people who cut off their nose to spite their face last year and abandoned a conservative gubernatorial candidate simply because they could not support a candidate who was divorced! While Jim Nussle would have advanced conservative causes, they cannot figure out why their “Christian” agenda gets no play with the liberal Governor and Democrat House and Senate that they assured would be victorious due to their stupidity and adherence to “principles.”

    Fact, Huckabee is conservative when it comes to abortion. Beyond that, he’s not much of a conservative. He balanced the budget in Arkansas by raising taxes. He pushed for McCain’s amnesty bill and, if elected President, will do whatever he can (in the name of Christian fairness) to provide for amnesty and/or special benefits to children of illegals, which is not a conservative viewpoint. On almost every conservative issue, Huckabee will leave conservatives in anguish and he will do what he did in Arkansas, pretty much decimating the Republican Party and the conservative movement within that party.

    This election is about leadership. While each has his flaws, there are no better leaders in this race than Rudy and Romney on the Republican side and Richardson on the Democrat side. I have faith that the Republican nomination will come down to one of those two. Unfortunately, I don’t know that the Democrats will wake up and realize their best candidate should not be in the second tier.

  • SPC Vaughn

    Sorry, I’m one of those staunch conservatives that support “Iron” Mike Huckabee. Mike brings out the best in the party. Huckabee 2012, the nation will be begging for him by the time Obama is done in four.