Time To Start Thinking About Huckabee 2016
Mike Huckabee seems to be making the moves necessary to run for President again, For reasons only he can understand.
The Washington Post’s Tom Hamburger and Robert Costa report that Mike Huckabee appears to be at the very least assembling what could be the core of a Presidential campaign is he decides to run for President in 2016, an opportunity he passed on four years ago:
Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, who turned his stunning victory in the 2008 Iowa caucuses into a thriving talk show career, is reconnecting with activists and enlisting staff to position himself in a growing field of potential Republican presidential candidates.
This week, Huckabee is leading more than 100 pastors and GOP insiders from early primary states on a 10-day overseas trip with stops in Poland and England.
Huckabee’s newly formed non-profit advocacy group, America Takes Action, has begun to serve as an employment perch for his political team, recently bringing on a number of experienced campaign operatives.
Advisers are already scouting real estate in Little Rock, Ark., for a possible presidential campaign headquarters.
Huckabee is scheduled to spend part of November holding private meetings with powerful GOP financiers in Las Vegas, New York, and California, gauging their interest in being bundlers for his possible campaign and asking for pledges of five-to six-figure donations to his aligned organizations. And he is planning two strategy sessions in December, in Little Rock and Destin, Fla., near his new Gulf Coast home, to discuss timing, potential staffing, and an opening pitch to voters.In January, Huckabee will publish “God, Guns, Grits, and Gravy,” his latest manifesto on politics and culture.
Huckabee, 59, who was governor of Arkansas for a decade, is one of the more enigmatic candidates in a potential Republican field. He has kept a relatively low political profile since 2008, largely staying out of the internal debates that have animated his party over the last few years. Nevertheless, Huckabee maintains a connection with many conservative voters and regularly polls along with former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and Sen. Rand Paul (Ky.) at or near the top of a potential Republican field.
Huckabee’s “heart is into it,” his daughter and political confidant Sarah Huckabee told The Washington Post in an interview Tuesday. “He is personally engaged and more aggressive in taking on meetings. He can’t wait to get back to South Carolina and Iowa.”
For the elder Huckabee, host of a weekly Fox News Channel show that bears his name and a regular commentator on the network, exploring another presidential bid requires a delicate finesse: Fox News, as a policy, terminates its relationships with commentators who create exploratory committees or otherwise show serious intent to run for office.
“I have to be very careful about this,” Huckabee said in an interview Tuesday with The Post.
He noted that he has “obligations in broadcasting,” and that, when it comes to running for president, “I am not doing anything official at this point.”
Still, in the interview, Huckabee signaled that he has begun thinking about areas where he might differentiate himself from some of his potential adversaries.
Asked about potential competition in pursuit of Christian evangelical voters, Huckabee said: “That’s part of the whole process of having a primary election period. … It provides an opportunity for comparisons.”
Huckabee declined to say whether he admired the pugnacious approach taken by Cruz, who favored a government shutdown last year and takes a more militant approach than that taken by GOP congressional leaders.
“I wouldn’t want to evaluate his direction or tactics,” Huckabee said. “They are unique to him, and he has to find his own way,” to win support.
Huckabee’s shift from semi-retirement to being on the cusp of another presidential run began in July 2013, according to Republicans close to him who requested anonymity to speak freely.
As Huckabee sat on the beach one day with his family, he was joined by Chip Saltsman, the longtime political strategist who had managed his 2008 campaign.
Saltsman asked Huckabee about whether he was interested in running again. Huckabee shrugged and said he was not sure. Saltsman replied that if he had any inclination to do it, he needed to start mapping out a run as soon as possible in order to keep up with his potential rivals. Saltsman’s parting message: Call me when you’re ready. A couple days later, Huckabee rang Saltsman and said, “Let’s go.”
In some sense the fact that Huckabee might be looking at another White House run isn’t entirely surprising. Even at the start of the year, polling in Iowa was showing that he remained quite popular with the Hawkeye State’s Republicans even six years after his surprise win in the caucuses. A later poll, conducted just two months ago, again showed him leading other potential 2016 candidates notwithstanding the fact that, unlike them, he had not spent much time this year visiting the state. More recently, the former Arkansas Governor seems to have made a conscious effort to reassert himself into the public sphere with comments about the possibility of impeaching the President, a threat to leave the GOP if the party changes its position on same-sex marriage that was clearly meant as a rallying cry to the social conservatives that would serve as his base of support if he did run, and joining others on the right in making bizarre and blatantly political comments about immigration and the Ebola crisis. If Huckabee is serious about at least keeping the door open to a Presidential run, he’s been doing everything one would expect him to do in that regard.
It’s possible, of course, that this is all a feint on Huckabee’s part just like we saw during the 2012 election cycle. Back then there were also several polls, both from Iowa and nationwide that seemed to show him to be the Republican frontrunner, ahead even of supposed “next in line” candidate Mitt Romney who had secured the backing of much of the GOP business and financial community early on in the process back then. After flirting with the idea for months, and indeed speaking out on national issues as he has over the course of this year, Huckabee ultimately bowed out of the race in an announcement that was designed mostly to bring attention to his Saturday evening show on Fox News Channel. After that, while he did participate in the 2012 race in varying degrees, Huckabee largely faded from the national scene to concentrate on the television show and a daily call-in radio show that ran for a year and a half before going off the air last year, Now, he has a book coming out and that could either be the prelude to a return to politics, or just a new direction for his media career and, to be honest, his current activities could be seen as either advancing the return to politics or advancing the media career.
Let’s assume that Huckabee is seriously thinking about getting back in the race for now. After all, that is how he’s going to be acting for the next several months at least and the impact that he could have on the race as a competitor for the votes of social conservatives in states like Iowa and South Carolina could have a big impact on whether or not other candidates get into the race, and how they run their own campaigns if they do. In that regard, you can count Daniel Larison among those who don’t think a Huckabee 2016 makes much sense:
Back in 2011, a second Huckabee bid would have been more understandable. He had won several elections in the 2008 primaries, and won a decent number of delegates to finishsecond in the overall delegate count, and there was obviously a strong desire among many conservatives in the 2012 cycle to thwart Romney. That was the best chance that Huckabee had to run a genuinely competitive race, and then he could have at least claimed to be the runner-up from the last contest, but he didn’t take it. He also has the liability of being something of a Bush-era throwback in a few respects. More than any other Republican candidate in 2008, he positioned himself as a “compassionate” conservative with the poor fiscal record to prove it. Because of his emphasis on social issues throughout his campaign, he had a very loyal base of support among evangelicals, but he could never reach anyone beyond that base. Huckabee was the perfect example of a factional candidate, and that is what he would be next time.
Especially if Santorum also chooses to run again, a Huckabee campaign would appear to add nothing to the debate that won’t already be there. Huckabee would likely not have much financial support for a campaign, since Republican donors are always allergic to anyone for whom social issues are the priority. He would once again have to run a campaign on a shoestring as a retread candidate, but he would be running against many more better-organized competitors than he faced last time.
Allahpundit, on the other hand, posits that a Huckabee candidacy, among other things, could be something that the GOP establishment would like to see because of the impact that it would likely have on what seems like a likely Presidential run from Texas Senator Ted Cruz:
Having Huck and Ben Carson both in the race will probably hurt their nemesis, Ted Cruz, more than anyone else. Exit question: If you’re a social conservative in Iowa, how on earth do you begin to sort this out? You’ve got Huck and maybe Santorum on the menu if you want to send a message about values. But if you do that, withholding your vote from a more mutifaceted social con like Rubio, you risk helping Bush or Christie. After all, the establishment candidates would be thrilled to see Huck or Ben Carson win Iowa since it’s unlikely that their niche candidacies will play in less evangelical states like New Hampshire or Florida. On the other hand, if you’re a social con in Iowa who does want to cast a vote for someone who can contend in New Hampshire or Florida, how do you go about choosing between Rubio, Walker, Perry, and Jindal (and maybe Ryan)? Seems likely to me that those four or five will end up splitting a big pool of votes fairly evenly, which would leave room for Paul or even Bush or Christie to steal a win by consolidating their own niches behind themselves.
Adding Huckabee into that mix would just end up further reducing the influence of social conservatives on the process, at least early in the process in states like Iowa, South Carolina, and Florida, and give much more room to mainstream conservatives to not only court those social conservatives not wedded to an ideologically pure candidate but also appeal to the voters in the middle that are the key to winning not just the General Election but also the open primaries that characterize the vast majority of the important states in the GOP nomination process. That being said, I tend to agree with Larison that Huckabee’s days as a candidate with a viable chance at the GOP nomination have passed him by. Perhaps he would have had a change in 2012 given the extent to which conservatives engaged in an endless search for an alternative to Romney only to be disappointed by Bachmann, Perry, Cain, Gingrich, and Santorum, each of whom rose in the polls at some point during the race only to fall back to Earth rather quickly when it was clear that they could not sustain their momentum and that the resources behind Romney were simply unbeatable. With his resume and his record of success in 2008, Huckabee likely would have been a more viable challenger in 2012 than the others, although its unclear that he would have been any more successful than they were in stopping Romney’s momentum. Four years later, though, it’s hard to see what it is about Huckabee that would differentiate him sufficiently from the other candidates to give him an edge. In 2016, it will be nine years since he left office as Governor of Arkansas, and while he remained in the news for a year after that as a ran for President, he hasn’t exactly been a household name since his campaign ended early on in the cycle. What recommends him to voters over Marco Rubio or anyone else is not clear at all.
Nonetheless, it appears that for the moment at least we’ll have to start considering the possibility of a Huckabee campaign in 2016. If nothing else, it would mean he’d have to end his Fox News Channel show and, based on this rather obvious Freudian slip by FNC host Megyn Kelly, I don’t think his colleagues would miss him (NSFW Freudian slip in video):
Tell us what you really think, Megyn.
Bwhahaha, giggle, snort, gasp, chortle.
Sorry, I was thinking about Huckabee 2016.
Another book tour?
My Preferences from a “RINO”
I’ll vote for Hillary if its any of these:
@Will: Bob Dole? I’m glad you’re not an ageist!
OK, so yes I agree that Huckabee’s goal here is to promote his social conservatism rather than outright winning the nomination. And early on, I also agree that that message will get diluted with the other social cons. BUT, you forget what he did in 2008: stayed in the race until the bitter end. He isn’t going to bow out simply because there’s no chance of him winning – he’s going to keep pushing his agenda until the nomination is made.
I was on another website…reading about an historic and astounding agreement between the US and China.
But it was pretty serious…
So I decided to take a break from really important stuff and come over to OTB and wallow in some complete nonsense for a bit.
We needs a Fu#kabee / Santorum 2016 ticket !
28% of Americans will be fanatics for ’em, the other 72% will be dying of laughter.
We could really use the comic relief!
Yeah, Bob Dole is the man. I voted for him in 96′. He;s only 90 now. 90 is the new 70!
@Franklin: Huckabee’s goal here is to promote
his social conservatismMike Huckabee. FTFY.
playing off the old “God, Guns, and Guts Won the West”. I’m going to print a bumper sticker, “The US Army and Federal Infrastructure Development Won the West”.
Jeb’s the only one that really worries me as a Democrat. He’s smart, rational, experienced and happens to come from Florida. If he comes out of NH it means the GOP is serious about winning.
Christie used to worry me, but he has no self-discipline, cannot shut up. That won’t wear well, not even with Republicans let alone the broader electorate.
Paul would effectively kill the only thing the GOP has going for it: the macho tough guy image. We elect people we think will kill bad guys, and Paul reads like a wimp. If he meant to run for POTUS as a neo-isolationist he needed to do some serious military service first. He’ll confuse the goobers in Iowa and SC. NH will probably love him, but the Koch Brothers would have to back him because the establishment sure won’t.
Portman and Pence and the rest of the non-entities? They’re the chicken breast on the menu. When you don’t know what to order, you order chicken. If either of these guys makes it out of NH it will only be against a very weak field.
Romney? He was insufferable last time, coming across as an entitled rich a-hole. If he runs he’ll add “again” to “entitled, rich a-hole.” His Mormon social conservatism would be more of a burden. People imagine he can run on “See, I told you so!” but he wouldn’t be running against Mr. Obama, he’d be running most likely against Hillary.
Huckabee would be fun – he can perhaps take Iowa and South Carolina in the primaries. New Hampshire? His big problem would be money. That plus being batsh!t crazy and completely out of touch with the 20th century let alone the 21st – plusses in the GOP, minuses in the country.
I’d say 60/40 Hillary against anyone but Jeb, then it’s 50/50. But out there in the distance is Elizabeth Warren. If Hillary slips, Warren is next up.
Paul frightens me. I don’t trust that guy for $@!@$@ He reminds me of Gregg Stillson in the Dead Zone.
@Will: Just out of curiosity: why do you put Pence in group A, and Walker in group B? What makes them different from each other?
Someone on Twitter today said that Huckabee has become a grifter like Palin. I think this is right. He’s learned how to work the press for his own benefit.
FWIW, I think Walker will get the nod. He’s from the Midwest and he works very well with social conservatives. He’s a weasel for what he did to the unions in Wisconsin (and the manner in which he did it), but conservatives will see that as a plus.
@michael reynolds: Agree, but with a couple of quibbles and comments. (Are Quibbles related to the Tribble Rand Paul wears on his head? He can’t control his hair and he wants to lead the western world?)
I’m not at all sure the Koch Bros aren’t now the establishment. I think we’ve been seeing a palace coup, not a revolt, with the TP used (and I mean used) to beat down the door and soon to be thrown away. I would dearly like to know how much Koch money went into primaries for the TP crazies and how much for the less visibly crazy “establishment” candidates.
Portman is my senator, was my congressman, I’m typing this 10 miles from Indiana, and I barely know who Portman and Pence are.
I can’t imagine anyone voting for Bush III. But if I sit and think about it, the electorate are a box of rocks with no memory past six months. I’ve come around to agreeing with you. He will run and he’s the biggest threat. I think he’s just waiting for enough money to buy his way around the immigration thing.
“I think Walker will get the nod. He’s from the Midwest and he works very well with social conservatives. He’s a weasel for what he did to the unions in Wisconsin (and the manner in which he did it), but conservatives will see that as a plus.”
My thinking is similar. He’s the one guy who checks all the boxes with all groups that constitute the GOP, and his fights with the unions help him in the primaries. Plus winning 2 governor’s races and a recall attempt in 4 years in a blueish-purple state looks good to the ones who want an electable candidate.
I think Walker is too divisive. I know he’s had to battle recalls and reelection the last few years, but I think he lacks the charisma to win the nomination. There are also some potential scandals brewing that could really derail him. Overall, though he reminds me of Pawlenty in looking great on paper, but would hardly generate enthusiasm in a national campaign.
As for Pence, he fits the bill as a pragmatic Midwest governor who has kept a low profile and is very popular on both sides of the GOP which is rare. He also seems quite knowledgeable about a broad spectrum of issues.
Any examples? I live in Indy now, and keep a pretty close eye on Pence for local issues. He hasn’t displayed any stupidity on issues–yes–but I haven’t really seen him come out as knowledgeable on many issues. (In other words, I’m not calling him stupid but I haven’t seen evidence that he’s smart.)
But, I realize that could be because I’m reading only state-domestic news. Perhaps he is making speeches and statements in the national press of which I’m just not aware.
Pence is far too socially conservative (and outspoken about it) to win a general election.
I remember that Republican retreat that they invited Obama to during his freshman year…he ran circles around Pence. How he became a Governor I’ll never know.
He’s kinda funny too, though. He censors comments on his Facebok page…and edits his own Wikipedia page.
First off, my bar is low these days for candidates and for their grasp of issues. Pence was kind of an unknown to me a year ago, but I’ve seen a few of his appearances on places like Meet the Press and I like what I hear. I don’t agree with him on every issue, but I like the way he communicates to regular people. He doesn’t seem like such a polarizing figure. You probably have a better sense of him than I do, but he hasn’t said or done anything yet that makes him a deal breaker for me.
Well, Palin made some comment last week about wanting to run for office (no office specified), so I suppose Huck had to jump onto the bandwagon.
I really hope that Huckabee is serious about 2016.
He, like Palin, Bachmann, Trump, West, and Perry bring a level of entertainment value that is unmatched in the Democratic Party.
I say we assume Huckabee is grifting until he starts to lose weight. Then he’s serious.
After what we’ve seen the past two mid-term elections, I’m actually nervous about the Republicans nominating one of their crazier candidates (Huckabee included). Perhaps it’s just my own bias against her coming through, but I just don’t see a terribly enthusiastic Democratic electorate (even in a Presidential year) if Hillary is the nominee. Any Republican probably has a better chance in 2016 than we think … and Michael Reynolds is right, if Jeb Bush gets the nod, well President Bush III would be much better than President Cruz the I.
@Tillman: You reminded me to look for pictures of Christie before his surgery and lately. Lost some. Long way to go.
And before someone jumps all over, ‘His weight shouldn’t matter!’, doesn’t much to me. But they have invented television since W. H. Taft got elected. Will matter to many.
It’s always fun to speculate this far out. So many things can happen, and, I suppose, potentially a dark horse candidate could come out of nowhere, but given this group of political hawks on OTB, it’s hard to imagine anyone will evade notice for that long.
Huckabee is a definite no, and he now makes his home in my neck of the woods. I guess I’m pretty darn well to a RINO now too. I’m in that land of moderation where the conservatives laugh and call me a liberal and the liberals look horrified at my backwards conservative views
I also chime in that Jeb is a dangerous, potentially powerful candidate, for all the reasons Michael said. I am not inclined to vote for him, but really I’m basing that solely on his last name – Doug has talked about it before, but it really would concern me if our choices came down to a second Clinton or third Bush – is there really no one better suited than this small cabal of leaders? – but Jeb wasn’t terrible as I remember here in Florida. Certainly more than Scott.
I’m still toying with the idea of supporting Rand Paul. I know his foreign policy ideas appeal to me, to some extent, but I’m also wary of him and not sure I really know him. Like someone else said, maybe he’s Dead Zone guy.
Christie maybe too, but he’s got too much of a sleazeball Yankee image to beat the TP side of the ticket down here.
God, Guns, Grits, and Gravy, as a political slogan, does not sound propitious in a general election. County sheriff maybe. Of a county in Arkansas. Or Mississippi.
Jeb is one of the few Republicans who doesn’t give off a distinctly creepy vibe. Paul, Walker, Romney, Ryan, all just yuck. Jeb feels like an actual human being.
I think Hillary needs Warren as Veep. An all-woman ticket. The Left loves Warren and she serves the useful function of driving the Money wing of the GOP insane, drawing fire to herself while exciting the blue team base. But it would take balls (heh) for Hillary to do it, and her instincts are always to be cautious.
If she plays it safe, tries to sit on her lead and run out the clock, Jeb could beat her. She needs issues. I’ve been saying for a long time that the GOP may be brain dead but they still possess the manic, destructive energy of a zombie. Meanwhile the Dems are out of ideas. With gay marriage all but a done deal, we’ve run out of people to “liberate.” We’re going to be left to hope that Republicans in Congress behave in their usual cretinous ways or else nominate one of the many available Republican creeps – a good bet, but not a sure thing.
Does Hillary have a vision? We just got our asses kicked because we wouldn’t stand up for our accomplishments and wouldn’t put forward a plan for the future. We can’t have any more of that, we can’t and won’t have a coronation, the American people won’t allow it. Hillary needs to be for something besides Hillary.
Personally I think that’s a horrible idea (at least for Warren). People like me still aren’t going to like Hillary Clinton any better, and to be honest, I think Senator Warren would have more influence over a Clinton administration (especially if Dems get the majority back) than she would as Vice President.
All that said, I just can’t picture a President Hillary Clinton. I’m really hopefully that her stumble comes in the primary again, and doesn’t wait until the general election. I don’t think I could see myself voting for a Republican (even Jeb), but you never know. My (socially libertarian) side still doesn’t even discount the possibility of (grudgingly) marking my ballot for Rand Paul if by some chance the Republicans were to actually nominate him (and Clinton really is the Dem nominee).
@michael reynolds: Warren really should stay in the Senate. We need a few good, solid liberals in the Senate, far more than we need anyone as Veep.
No VP is going to make me more enthusiastic about Clinton. About the only thing that would make me enthusiastic about Clinton would be Andrew Cuomo running, and Clinton mopping up the floor with him. That man is a horrid little toad, and anyone who crushes him will have my gratitude.
I support Biden as VP, again. He’s so very vice-Presidential. And he won’t be giving up a senate seat.
Haven’t you noticed? In the last election, much of the country decided that it was cool to try to emulate Arkansas & Mississippi.
Personally, I blame “The Beverly Hillbillies”… It was the first big push in the post-WWII generation to make ignorant cool. (direct descendants: Duck Dynasty)
Now look what we have: Part of the country uplifted by the landing of a space probe on a comet, the other fearing the wrath of an invisible sky pal if it is not obeyed by the masses.
Mike Huckabee, the guy who commuted the sentence of a rapist who went on to rape and murder a young woman? The same Mike Huckabee who commuted the sentence of a repeated violent felon who went on to murder four police officers?
@michael reynolds: If I were running, my platform would emphasize more investment in science and technology, a huge whack at the defense budget (moving from expensive weapons systems back into S&T research), investment in US infrastructure (a lot of it was built during the 1950s and has come to the end of its lifetime), getting rid of certain federal agencies and shoving their duties back down to the states (devolve anything to do with education, for example.), shake up the FBI and CIA, stop the silly War on Drugs, and beef up civil liberties.
I’d also suggest we replace Obamacare with the following system: a National Health Service based on something like what Japan has, with the added twist: as soon as you’re 21, you can get off it and deal with whatever the free market throws up at you. Leave the private sector deregulated. Also allow people to move back on to the NHS if they’re off it, but only if they’re in at least as good health as the average person of their age on the NHS. The NHS gets to nag you about your weight, eating your veggies, and gets to carry out medical triage. Basic minimum. Anything beyond that, you get covered on the private market. Get rid of Medicare.
(I have much more radical ways I’d like to see a society organized, but I realize most of them are too much for the US. They probably would be accepted in a space colony, however.)
@Todd: “My (socially libertarian) side still doesn’t even discount the possibility of (grudgingly) marking my ballot for Rand Paul if by some chance the Republicans were to actually nominate him (and Clinton really is the Dem nominee).”
And if that were the case, then my message to you would be the same as to the good citizens of Kansas today: You deserve everything that happens to you.
@Will: “but I like the way he communicates to regular people”
Translation: “He says what I want to hear and he lies well enough that I can suspend my disbelief… because I’m a Republican!”
@Gustopher: “Warren really should stay in the Senate. We need a few good, solid liberals in the Senate, far more than we need anyone as Veep.”
I agree that she should stay in the Senate… unless and until she is nominated to the Supreme Court.
Ideally to Scalia’s seat.
The only thing that’s going to make me enthusiastic about Clinton will be the Republican nominee.
I probably dislike Huckabee more than most of the commenters here do.
But you have to have something to talk about where you can lay out your crucial social markers, I suppose.