Huckabee For President? What He Has Going For Him, and Against Him

Mike Huckabee, Source: Scott Olson/Getty Images

Scott Olson/Getty Images

“I am a candidate for president of the United States of America,” said former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee in a not-so-surprising turn of events, announcing his bid for the 2016 election on Tuesday in Hope, Ark. “America’s leadership in the worlds completely evaporated and the countries more polarized than ever in my lifetime,” said Huckabee. He discussed his history with the state, both personal and political, and where he sees the nation failing — putting in a few digs on President Barack Obama (“93 million Americans don’t have jobs”). But as a candidate, Huckabee is far from a frontrunner for the GOP.

Where is he in the polls?

According to polling averages from Real Clear Politics, combining April polls from the Wall Street Journal/NBC, Fox News, Quinnipiac, and CNN/ORC, Huckabee falls sixth in line for the Republican nominee, behind former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, Sen. Marco Rubio (Fla.), Gov. Scott Walker (Wisc.), Sen. Rand Paul (Ky.), and Sen. Ted Cruz (Texas).

Like other candidates, his announcement was proceeded by a the publishing of a book. Where Hillary Clinton had Hard Choices and Carly Fiorina had Tough Choices, the conservative Republican governor had his own version, God, Guns, Grits, and Gravy. Yes, it has the advantage of alliteration, but it also crams more stereotypes into the title than seems like it should be possibly for anything outside of a satirical web comic depicting the French view of Americans (and yes, I see the irony there).

What advantages does he have?

For one thing, he’s a governor, and depending on who you ask — Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ) springs to mind, though he’s hardly an objective commentator — 2016 will be the fighting ground of many governors. It puts him in a place of the politically experienced, alongside Jeb Bush, and ahead of candidates like Ben Carson — a former neurosurgeon and newbie in the political arena. “We were promised hope but it was just talk, and now we need the kind of change that really could get America from hope to higher ground,” said Huckabee, according to the LA Times. “I learned how to govern and I learned how to lead,” he said of his time in Arkansas.

Huckabee also has the strong support of sections of America’s religious community as a Baptist pastor and social conservative, in particular evangelicals voters. His far right positions on same-sex marriage are likely to be alienating, especially given his history of poorly chosen words, speaking of the “militant gay community,” according to the Huffington Post. But on some issues, he may pull a wider appeal. In the past, he pardoned over 1,000 individuals during his time as governor, something that earned him criticism from opponents.

But it also gave him the opportunity to discuss the law enforcement system and the role that race too-often plays in affecting rulings. “There were issues where I felt like African-American males were given harsher sentences, especially for drug crimes, than were upper-middle-class white kids who were arrested for the same thing,” said Huckabee, according to NewsWeek. “Upper-middle-class white kids whose fathers can get them an attorney, get to go to rehab with no criminal record, and a poor black kid from a single-parent home gets eight to 10 in the Arkansas Department of Corrections.”

He also could pull on the ear of low-earners in America, arguing against trade deals he says would “drive wages lower than the dead sea,” according to The New York Times, and had been critical of fellow 2016 hopeful, Jeb Bush, who had discussed the possibility of increasing the Social Security age.

While his views may have changed, in the past he was in favor of cap-and-trade policy to help curtail the effects of global warming — not likely to win him votes form his own party, and given his flip-flop on that issue, he isn’t likely to win more liberal voters on the issue anymore either.

His opponents

One noticeable trend to his 2016 announcement was his penchent for referencing his opponents — a lot of them — and not in a friendly sense. He hit on Cruz, Paul, Bush, and Christie for Obamacare, commitment to office, family background, and Social Security policy respectively. As mentioned earlier, he has experience to list in opposition to his fellow conservative religious leader — Carson — who has never held public office.

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