Archive for the ‘Mike Huckabee’ Category

WMUR-ABC Republican Debate

January 6, 2008

Thirty minutes into the Republican debate from St. Anselm College, I have the following observations:

• They all look tired. I am surprised by how fatigued Mitt Romney looks.

• The question on whether each candidate would follow President Bush’s foreign policy seemed to put the candidates on their heels. So did the use of video and sound from President Bush. The last things these guys want is to be lumped in with Bush.

• On the substance, I thought the responses of Giuliani, McCain, Thompson and Romney on the danger of terrorism were all solid. It was interesting to see Romney reach for some foreign policy substance by invoking specific Islamist clerics. Politically, however, Huckabee had the best comment, saying he’s “not running for George Bush’s third term.”

• Given the level of scrutiny on Huckabee’s past critiques of Bush’s foreign policy, I have to note that I was the first columnist to examine his statements in this area. I wrote: “Quick to personify nations while talking about international relations, at times he sounds like he is channeling a European member of the Green Party.”

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Iowa Caucus Day

January 3, 2008

While my expertise is New Hampshire, I’ve been doing this long enough to make a couple of observations about Iowa. Given the vagaries of the caucus process, my sense is still that John Edwards will perform better than expectations. Remember he came in second last time and his organization has worked hard to make itself the second choice of the supporters of the lesser candidates.

The Biden Campaign is denying that it has made any deals with other candidates. Says Biden’s Iowa State Director, Danny O’Brien: “There are no discussions underway and there will be no deal with any campaign. We believe Sen. Biden is strong enough on his own. Everyone knows that Sen. Biden is a popular second choice for the supporters of all the other campaigns. We remain confident that Sen. Biden will surprise folks this evening.”

As for Hillary Clinton, her success hinges on the size of the electorate. If there are many new participants in the caucus process, she loses. But if the excitement around Barack Obama is great enough and if the energy coming from the far left is as strong as it seems, tonight could be a very long night for her. My guess is that her team has identified most of the die-hard participants, the people you need to win a caucus in a normal year. The big question is, is this a normal year?

I’m less interested in the Republican side in Iowa. The uptick in support for Mike Huckabee baffles me as did the margin of victory for George W. Bush in 2004. Both cases seem to reflect the strength of religious and values voters within the GOP — at the expense of other concerns. With John McCain and Rudy Giuliani both having opted out of Iowa and Huckabee — to me — not having legs, I just can’t see this contest being as determinative on the Republican side. That said, if Mitt Romney can win big there, I do expect him to benefit from a slingshot effect into New Hampshire.

A final thought: a string of Massachusetts politicians have profited thanks to their proximity to New Hampshire — Michael Dukakis, Paul Tsongas, John Kerry. In Romney’s case, the phenomena appears to be working in reverse. The more New Hampshire voters get exposed to Romney, the less they like him. I believe this is directly linked to the fact that the persona Romney has forged as a presidential candidate is so different to the one he demonstrated as a governor. In most cases, this wouldn’t matter. But New Hampshire voters got a close look at Romney in 1994 when he ran against Ted Kennedy and again from 2002 until 2006. So for him, the usual proximity advantage is actually a disadvantage.

I’ll post again later tonight.

Huckabee Scores

September 6, 2007

Hats off to Mike Huckabee who did just about as good a job as somebody can do in refuting Ron Paul last night. Paul had been launching into his tirades all night, and it fell to Huckabee, whom just weeks ago I criticized on the grounds of his foreign policy, to confront him. NOTE: none of the other major candidates went near Paul. I thought he showed guts.

“MR. HUCKABEE: We have to continue the surge. And let me explain why, Chris. When I was a little kid, if I went into a store with my mother, she had a simple rule for me. If I picked something off the shelf of the store and I broke it, I bought it.

I learned don’t pick something off the shelf I can’t afford to buy.

Well, what we did in Iraq, we essentially broke it. It’s our responsibility to do the best we can to try to fix it before we just turn away because something is at stake. Senator McCain made a great point, and let me make this clear. If there’s anybody on this stage that understands the word honor, I’ve got to say Senator McCain understands that word — (applause, cheers) — because he has given his country a sacrifice the rest of us don’t even comprehend. (Continued applause.)

And on this issue, when he says we can’t leave until we’ve left with honor, I 100 percent agree with him because, Congressman, whether or not we should have gone to Iraq is a discussion that historians can have, but we’re there. We bought it because we broke it. We’ve got a responsibility to the honor of this country and to the honor of every man and woman who has served in Iraq and ever served in our military to not leave them with anything less than the honor that they deserve. (Cheers, applause.)

MR. HUME: Go ahead. You wanted to respond? He just addressed you; you go ahead and respond. (Continued applause.)

REP. PAUL: The American people didn’t go in. A few people advising this administration, a small number of people called the neoconservative hijacked our foreign policy. They’re responsible, not the American people. They’re not responsible. We shouldn’t punish them. (Cheers, applause.)

MR. HUCKABEE: Congressman, we are one nation. We can’t be divided. We have to be one nation under God. That means if we make a mistake, we make it as a single country, the United States of America, not the divided states of America. (Cheers.)

REP. PAUL: No. When we make a mistake — (interrupted by applause) — when we make a mistake, it is the obligation of the people through their representatives to correct the mistake, not to continue the mistake! (Cheers, applause.)

MR. HUCKABEE: And that’s what we do on the floor of the —

REP. PAUL: No! We’ve dug a hole for ourselves and we dug a hole for our party!

We’re losing elections and we’re going down next year if we don’t change it, and it has all to do with foreign policy, and we have to wake up to this fact.

MR. HUCKABEE: Even if we lose elections, we should not lose our honor, and that is more important to the Republican Party.

REP. PAUL: We’re losing — we’ve lost over — (cheers, applause) — we have lost — we have lost 5,000 Americans killed in — we’ve lost over 5,000 Americans over there in Afghanistan and Iraq and plus the civilians killed. How many more do you want to lose? How long are we going to be there? How long — what do we have to pay to save face? That’s all we’re doing is saving face. It’s time we came home!”

Huckabee’s Foreign Policy of Servanthood — Whatever That Means

August 14, 2007

At this point in the presidential campaign, I feel I have a pretty good idea of the foreign poilcy of most of the candidates. From Ron Paul to Barack Obama to Rudy Giuliani to Hillary Clinton, their expressions of what America’s role in the world are comprehensible — although I might not always agree. In the midst of the Mike Huckabee boomlet, generated by his garnering of 18.1% in the Iowa Straw Poll, I took a look at his book, “From Hope to Higher Ground: 12 Stops to Restoring America’s Greatness.” I can honestly say I don’t have any idea where Huckabee is coming from with this stuff.

Here are some quotes:

“When the kid in the neighborhood with dominant power uses his superiority to demand his way, win at every contest, force others to run errands, and ridicule the weaker children, that individual may maintain his position of dominance, but he will be resented by the other kids in the neighborhood,” he writes.

Is America under President Bush the bully that he describes? It’s somewhat unclear from the text, but he does not write anywhere that it isn’t. Just two paragraphs higher in the book, he says, “the less vulnerable a nation is to military defeat, the more vulnerable it is to the resentment and outright animosity of even those nations that could rightfully be described as allies.”

While he rejects the notion that it is “all our fault that America is resented across the world,” he also writes, “we can’t ignore our role and responsibility” to “bring smiles of approval instead of curses of contempt.” Perhaps, by that thinking, some of that resentment is our fault.

Previously in the campaign, Mr. Huckabee drew attention when he launched into a passionate oration about God in response to a question about creationism at a Republican debate. His faith is also present in his foreign policy outlook: “The most powerful demonstration of leadership is not a clenched fist of brute force but an open hand of humble assistance. This is the very model of leadership and strength expressed by Jesus, who reminded us that if we really wanted to be great, we must be willing to serve rather than to be served, and that the spirit of our actions is as important as the actions themselves.”

You can read more in my New York Sun column.