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Huckabee: On The Sidelines, In The Game

WASHINGTON - Sometimes staying out of a fight is the smartest path in politics.

Mike Huckabee and Mitt Romney, two 2008 Republican presidential primary foes who may go at it again in 2012, didn't jump into the GOP debacle in New York's 23rd District earlier this month. Republicans lost a seat they had held for more than a century because of an internal fight between conservatives and moderates.

The congressional race in an out-of-the-way rural area of New York could be seen as the first de facto primary of the 2012 presidential campaign.

Newt Gingrich, pondering a run, endorsed the GOP nominee, Dede Scozzafava. Her support of abortion rights and gay rights, union organizing, taxes and other issues made her more liberal than not only her own party's platform, but also many Democrats in Congress. Scozzafava dropped out after falling in the polls and suffering a backlash from national conservatives.

Potential GOP 2012 contenders Sarah Palin, the ex-governor of Alaska, and Tim Pawlenty, the current governor of Minnesota, endorsed the Conservative Party candidate, Doug Hoffman.

He eventually lost to Democrat Bill Owens.

By staying out, Romney and Huckabee risked being seen as too cautious in a proxy fight for the GOP's soul. But any criticism of either man is overshadowed by the criticism being directed at people who took sides.

Gingrich took heat from Rush Limbaugh and others for backing a candidate so at odds with the party's platform.

Some criticized Pawlenty for jumping on the bandwagon of a losing candidate who fractured the GOP's attempts to hold onto a Republican seat in Congress.

Romney stayed out, he said, because he does not back candidates who hold so many positions that differ from his own.

Huckabee agreed but took his explanation further. If he does run again, and that seems probable but not certain, he is already positioning himself as a bridge builder.

Huckabee has defended Gingrich while saying that he, himself, could not have voted for Scozzafava.

"I thought it was a little bit unfortunate that people were just tearing (Gingrich) alive," Huckabee said at a recent Christian Science Monitor breakfast. "He was doing it ... more from a standpoint of political practitioner. He recognized that as flawed as the process was, it was instrumental in getting to two candidates, and then people could have their choice."

Huckabee looks a lot more relaxed these days than when he dropped out of the 2008 primaries some 18 months ago. He hosts a talk show on Fox News, has written his seventh book, "A Simple Christmas," and says he won't seriously consider whether to run again for another year.

But he has jumped into some fights. He backs Marco Rubio, a conservative challenger to Gov. Charlie Crist in the Florida Senate primary, and has criticized national Republican officials for initially backing Crist. He is urging candidates who may want to challenge incumbent Republicans to do so in primaries, not as third-party candidates.

Huckabee has been among the GOP's fiercest critics of the government's bailouts of banks and automakers. Along with the eventual nominee, John McCain, and Libertarian Ron Paul, Huckabee tried to make spending and debt a moral and generational issue in the 2008 primaries. McCain won't be back in 2012, and Paul will be 77 years old. If Huckabee runs again and if worries over spending and deficits persist, he may find a more receptive audience in 2012.

"They said Lehman Brothers dies, Bank of America lives," Huckabee said of last fall's emergency bailouts. "Who ever gave the government that responsibility?"

"The biggest problem I had with (the bailouts) was the precedent it created, which is now what we are seeing," Huckabee said. "That any time a business or enterprise gets in trouble, they run to the government and say, 'Help, Uncle Sugar, you got to bail me out.' "

Huckabee equates the nation's escalating debt with a child with a broken arm. Any parent, he said, would take the pain on themselves to keep the child from having it.

"But what we are doing governmentally is essentially, 'I don't want a broken arm. I want to break both of my kid's arms for his future.' Because we are setting up an indebtedness situation, and a deficit, that is going to be untenable."

8 Responses »

  1. I hope Huckabee runs again in 2012! I'm convinced that he is the best shot we've got at taking the WH back!

    Having researched his time in AR for myself rather than accepting the word of people with ulterior motives, it is clear that Huckabee is a man with an impeccable executive resume.

    Huckabee took AR from a major deficit to an almost $3billion surplus while he was governor - and he did it while working with a Democrat legislature who hated him so much that they nailed his office door to the chamber shut!

    Here's a guy who can handle partisanship because he has dealt with it at its worst! Not by going to war with them, but by winning them over.

    So many of today's pols encourage the division & animus between us because they can profit politically by it.

    Wouldn't it be awesome to have a guy in office who not only believed in conservative principles, but also wanted to see our country united and actually had the ability to initiate that healing?

    • I absolutely agree with you. He will win us over with his incredible record of success. He has proven that it is leadership, great ideas and an ability to clearly communicate and walk the walk is what means something to people. Otherwise, he would not be a contender now. This is not about money, prestige, power or a putting another notch in his belt with a new challenge; It is about having a vision and believing that vision can meet America where she is, which overextended, disillusioned and divided, and take her higher, making her better and improving the lives of the next generations while we safeguard and improve broken parts of our system. Huckabee is a rare breed and an extraordinary man. We need him.

  2. Huckabee will make an outstanding president! I hope he runs - he can beat Obama! Can you imagine the debates . . . Obama stammering around unable to take a clear position and Huck with his amazing way to express a conservative position on ANY issue! Can't wait!

    • I can't either. Having Huckabee and Obama in the debates will likely be very embarrassing for Obama. Be afraid be very afraid. And if Palin gets in on the debates, we are in for a lively political season.

  3. The Governor has preached the same conservative message for years--even if it fell on deaf (Democratic) ears during his tenure in Arkansas. He is, by far, the most rational, eloquent and unequivocal voice for the conservative rank and file in the country and will be our next President. The only question left unanswered is the running mate.

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    Check it out, just google the words: Huckabee Fan Club

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  5. Governor Huckabee is "perfectly presdential" in every way! He reminds me so much of Reagan in the way he can inspire people and give them a good feeling about a future that otherwise seems bleak! He has been right on EVERY call since 2007 on the economy and THE FAIR TAX is the singlemost thing that would help us recover. We need him more than ever in 2012!

  6. I've been involved in taxes for lengthier then I care to admit, both on the personal side (all my working life-time!!) and from a legal viewpoint since passing the bar and following tax law. I've offered a lot of advice and rectified a lot of wrongs, and I must say that what you've put up makes utter sense. Please persist in the good work - the more people know the better they'll be outfitted to comprehend with the tax man, and that's what it's all about.