>Is Mike Huckabee the best candidate for President of the United States in the GOP primary? Yes, he is an evangelical Christian. Yes, he is a socially conservative Republican. These two facts are important and carry a good deal of weight with me as I am weighing our options. But these two facts alone are not enough to secure my vote.
With our current poll question, I asked: “What is most important to you as you consider who to vote for this primary season?” I provided three options: 1) “Electability, chances of beating the other party’s candidate in the general election,” 2) “Political philosophy, principles,” and 3) “Personal character, values, religious & moral beliefs.” I strongly believe that we must consider all three. We can rank their relative importance but all three must play a part.
I probably do not need to make the case for options two and three on this blog. I trust we are agreed on these two points. But I suspect some conservatives could take or leave option one. I used to think this way myself throughout the nineties as a Buchanan Brigadier. If Pat would have ran third-party in ’96, I would have supported him against Clinton and Dole. He would not have won, and I would have known that going in to it, but I would have voted for him on principle. In politics, however, you do what is best for the nation by advancing your political philosophy and principles and you do that by winning. Of course, you can still continue to advance the belief in your philosophy and principles in defeat but you can only put them into practice in the public square when you win elections.
There is so much I’d like to flesh out in this post but time constrains me. Hopefully I can develop some of this in the comments section over the next few days. I suspect J_Wizzle is licking his chops in anticipation of taking this task on. I have no problem with Mike Huckabee regarding category three: personal character, values, religious & moral beliefs. But I have yet to be convinced of his strength in categories one and two.
Is Huckabee electable in the general election? I don’t know. Polls seem to indicate that he would hold his own against Clinton but fall significantly short against Obama. I don’t necessarily think he falls short because he can’t win the general election (as some pundits believe) because I think it is probably too early to tell. He falls short for me in the area of electability in relation to the other GOP candidates. There are a couple other candidates who I think would fare better than Huckabee in the general election. Electability is the not the top priority of my three categories but it is one of the three.
Regarding political philosophy and principles, is Huckabee my conservative candidate of choice compared to the other candidates? As of right now, I do not know. Again, I do not have the the time to make the case completely in this post. Hopefully I can at least begin some good discussion with this post. According to our second poll, most of our readers will be voting for Huckabee so I’m sure I’ll get some feedback on this. I think Huckabee has fallen short in two, possibly three, main areas in this election: foreign policy, immigration, and taxes. I can give examples of concern for each of these three areas but I will have to make the case for this in another post or in the comments section. When I survey the complete picture, his campaign platform and his record as governor of Arkansas, I am left wondering if he is truly the candidate his campaign promises indicate him to be.
But I am open to hearing arguments in favor of Huckabee. Tell me why I should vote for him. Earlier this year I would have voted for Fred Thompson. I think he really messed up by not launching his campaign during 4th of July weekend and waiting until September. He missed the opportunity to take advantage of the momentum that was starting to build for him earlier in the year when he was rumored to be considering a run. It appears this much of his support has gone to Huckabee. Should I switch from Thompson to Huckabee too? I think Fred Thompson is strong in all three of my categories although polls seem to indicate that he is not going to make a strong showing in the primaries. Maybe he can close the gap over the next few weeks. I don’t know. Probably not. If you want to tell me why I should vote for Huckabee instead of Thompson, I am willing to listen and as time allows I will spell out some of my concerns with Huckabee regarding foreign policy, immigration, and taxes.
[edited to add the following]
Part 2: My concerns with Huckabee
My basic concerns are these: Huckabee has shown a willingness in the past to, in effect, subsidize illegal immigration by offering government support to illegal aliens. If “subsidize” is too harsh then I think it could at least be shown that Huckabee has supported measures that would undermine efforts to stop illegal immigraion. His current plan looks good but I’m wondering where his support for these measures were before.
– Huckabee supported a bill that would make “illegal aliens eligible for state-funded scholarships and instate tuition if they graduate from high school in Arkansas.” Quoted from Where Are They On Securing America’s Borders? at Fred08.com. Source: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, 1/27/05.
– “Last week, Huckabee described it [the bill] as ‘inflammatory…race-baiting…demagoguery.’ He said the bill, which seeks to forbid public assistance and voting rights to illegal immigrants, ‘inflames those who are racist and bigots and makes them think there’s a real problem. But there’s not.'” Quoted from Where Are They On Securing America’s Borders? at Fred08.com. Source: AP, 2/3/05.
Huckabee has denied Thompson’s charges and claims that he did not support in-state tuition for illegal immigrants. Who is correct? The Washington Post runs a column called The Fact Checker by Michael Dobbs. Just a few days ago The Fact Checker posted this item: Pinocchios for Huckabee on Illegal Immigrants. Check it out for yourself.
I am not interested in getting into the particulars of this in-state tuition issue. What I am interested in is that it seems that Huckabee has been inconsistent over the years on illegal immigration. His current plan looks like a tough, smart, workable plan so I will give him that. But there appears to be a disconnect between his current plan and his track record. That is what concerns me. If I am wrong, please let me know. If what I am saying is inaccurate, I would like to be convinced otherwise.
I’ll make this one brief since I have been provided with some further information since I began this post. My concern is basically the same of my concern with immigration. Huckabee’s current plan looks good but I am unsure whether it reflects his record over the course of the past decade. When Huckabee began to rise in the polls, establishment Republicans began to go on the attack. He was characterized as a tax-hiking governor and I admit that I fell for that story. Since then I have seen a much more balanced picture of Huckabee regarding taxes.
Let’s keep the discussion going.