Huckabee Criticizes Romney For Lack of Executions in Massachusetts

Steve Benen mentions an interesting tidbit about the anti-Romney ad that Mike Huckabee doesn’t have the money to run on TV “refuses to run on principle”. Apparently, the ad criticizes Mitt Romney for the lack of executions in Massachusetts during Romney’s gubernatorial terms. As Benen points out:

Apparently, Huckabee — you know, the evangelical, pro-life Republican — is going after Romney for not having executed any Americans during his gubernatorial tenure.

I realize Republican politics are far more crass than norms should allow, but it’s disconcerting to think “You didn’t kill anyone” has suddenly become a criticism in conservative circles.

Frankly, I’m not surprised about using a “law and order” critique in Republican politics. Is it crass for Huckabee to use? Absolutely (disclosure – I am absolutely opposed to the death penalty. And, for that matter, the correctional system that we’ve developed in this country). But regardless of the merits of the death penalty, the funniest thing about this line of attack on Romney is that it shows Mike Huckabee’s manifest ignorance with the concept of the separation of powers and the job of governing. First of all, this is because there is no death penality in Massachusetts! So in order for there to have been executions under Mitt Romney’s term, the state legislature would have had to adopted one. They did not–even though Romney did introduce a bill to reinstate the death penalty.

The second problem with this line of attack is that even if Massachusetts did have a death penalty, the governor of the state would have nothing whatsoever to do with actual executions. That is, of course, the role of the judiciary. The only involvement that a governor might have is that of granting clemency or pardon to a convict on death row. (And, to his enormous discredit, Mitt Romney apparently never granted clemency or pardon once during his terms.)

This isn’t high level stuff here. Anyone with a basic high school civics class under their belt–or hell, anyone’s who’s ever watched a couple of episodes of Law and Order–knows perfectly well that the governor plays virtually no role in executions.

Explain to me why Mike Huckabee is surging in the polls again? Surely Republican voters are looking for some basic level of competence and decency in their candidates. At least, I hope they are.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2008, Law and the Courts, , , , , ,
Alex Knapp
About Alex Knapp
Alex Knapp is Associate Editor at Forbes for science and games. He was a longtime blogger elsewhere before joining the OTB team in June 2005 and contributed some 700 posts through January 2013. Follow him on Twitter @TheAlexKnapp.

Comments

  1. Michael says:

    Explain to me why Mike Huckabee is surging in the polls again?

    Because he isn’t named Romney, Giuliani or McCain? At this point Mickey Mouse may just win the Republican primary as a write-in.

    Sorry, but Ron Paul still has no chance.

  2. legion says:

    True on all points, Michael, including RP 🙂 But I think Huckabee’s recent surge is simply because the religious base of the GOP hasn’t had anyone they could root for until now, and they’re finally shifting off the ‘undecided’ tag.

    Between RP and Huckster, and the other spineless wonders in the primary field who’ll parrot any opinion that gets press regardless of whether its good or bad, I think we’re going to see just how insane candidates can really get in these next few weeks…

  3. Michael says:

    Between RP and Huckster, and the other spineless wonders in the primary field who’ll parrot any opinion that gets press regardless of whether its good or bad, I think we’re going to see just how insane candidates can really get in these next few weeks…

    And I must say that while I am enjoying this reality show, I keep getting this sinking feeling that one of these people may one day become President of the United States.

  4. Michael says:

    Infact, I can see the slogan now:

    20 candidates entered this race, but in the end there can only be one winner….and 300 million losers.

  5. Dantheman says:

    Because Huckabee has a lock on one large segment of the Republican base — the evangelical religious conservatives, who gave up being on the fence waiting for one of the other candidates to be acceptable to them. No one in the Republican field is capable of being acceptable to the entire base (Romney tried and tripped over his non-conservative record; Thompson was a great hope to do so, and might have succeeded if he actually campaigned). I suspect that if George Allen did not have his “macaca moment” and went on to win his election in 2006, he could have held the Republican coalition together.

  6. NoZe says:

    >…the funniest thing about this line of attack >on Romney is that it shows Mike Huckabee’s >manifest ignorance with the concept of the >separation of powers and the job of governing.

    Oh, trust me, Huckabee’s smart enough to know this…he’s just not one to let a little bit of civic knowledge get in the way of a good pander/1

  7. Michael says:

    I can only wonder how much of this the GOP could have avoided if Dick Cheney had resigned.

  8. Wayne says:

    Governors have the final say in an execution. Many have commuted death sentence to life. Yes it would hard for Mitt to carry out a death sentence since Mass didn’t have the death penalty. However for Huckabee to state it, as an example of his toughness on crime is not outlandish even if other candidates didn’t have the opportunity to do so. It simply state that he can make life and death decision.

    Rudy use his prosecution of criminals as an example. McCain use his P.O.W status an example of his sacrifice for the country even though it wasn’t done by choice. McCain use his military service and make it sound like he knows everything military. The list goes on and on for all the candidates.

    Some love and hate Huck because of his religion. I think his surge is due to his interview skill and likeability. He still makes gaffs but the overreactions to the gaffs helps him more then the gaffs hurt him.

    That said, Go Fred!!!

  9. Tlaloc says:

    Surely Republican voters are looking for some basic level of competence and decency in their candidates.

    Yeah, people who routinely celebrate the torture of helpless prisoners are high on my list of decent human beings…