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2008 Presidential Race, Fred Thompson, Mike Huckabee

>Mike Huckabee for President?

>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

Immigration

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.

Taxes

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.

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Discussion

22 thoughts on “>Mike Huckabee for President?

  1. >Good point! I got it.

    Posted by Mark Mathews | December 24, 2007, 3:17 pm
  2. >Oh, Mark, no, I’d never insist that Christians should only vote for Christian leaders. I was speaking about people opposed to Christian values. Atheists can favor Christian values, and the religion of the person in office is irrelevant; it’s their values that are relevant.When I speak of voting in faith, I mean voting for a person whose values I can support, not with whose religion I agree. Many people are considering voting for someone whose values are clearly in opposition to their own, but who can “beat Hillary”. “I like ____,” they might say, “but he can’t beat Hillary, so I will vote for someone who can, even if his views are opposed to mine.”Oh, and the parallel to “going down to Egypt” would be any time we attempt to ally with the world go gain what God has promised us rather than rely on God.

    Posted by Stan | December 24, 2007, 2:40 pm
  3. >”Actually, my current choice is Duncan Hunter … but who knows anything about him?”I like Duncan Hunter. I hear his son is running for the House seat he held for so long.

    Posted by Jeff Wright | December 23, 2007, 9:46 pm
  4. >Stan,Could that not mean we can vote “in faith” for someone not of the faith and have faith that God will still achieve his purposes? I read your post on “Going down to Egypt” and think the parallel might be invalid for two reasons. First, Israel already had a leader, they weren’t deciding on one. They were looking for alliances for protection when God had already shown them he was able to protect them. Alliances for protection and alliances for leadership “might” be a bit of a stretch, although I understand your line of thinking. But in either case I feel there are too many other issues dealing with the specifics of the covenant with Israel that would be hard to work out there. The problem of alliances with pagan nations is not present in the NT.Second, from the language in your post, it sounds like you think God can “only” achieve his plan for America under a Christian president. You write:”It seems to me that too many of God’s people in America are willing to align themselves with an entity known to be opposed to Christian views to defend themselves against a worse entity known to be opposed to Christian views.”Does this mean that a person who is not a Christian is not someone that God’s people should vote for? You gave OT examples of God’s dealings with Israel. Remember also that God worked mightily through pagan leaders to work his plan for his people. Don’t get me wrong, I am a believer and in my heart it would make me “feel” better if we had a Christian president. But I think such a strong dependence on a Christian president is more along the lines of the sin mentioned in Deuteronomy. That is, too much trust in a man rather than trust in God. What I mean is, I should feel confident that God will work his plan out for his people even if we were taken over by another country and America no longer existed. This, of course, is an extreme. But I also trust him to do his will whether we have a Christian leader or not.So I would argue that it takes more faith to vote for a non-believer than it does to vote for a believer! If I vote for a believer I can say I trust the Lord but in reality I am trusting the fact that the man in office believes what I believe. However, if I vote for a non-believer, I can pray that the Lord will bring him to faith, that he will work mightily through him to accomplish his plan, and that God will be glorified by pagan leaders “unknowingly” accomplishing his plan as is demonstrated throughout the OT.

    Posted by Mark Mathews | December 23, 2007, 9:33 pm
  5. >Mark,As for “are we told to vote in faith”, as I understand Scripture, “that which is not of faith is sin”. It seems that when we place our lives in the hands of the Savior, everything is based on faith.(Fortunately I don’t define “faith” as “blind belief”.)

    Posted by Stan | December 23, 2007, 6:56 pm
  6. >Jeff,Actually, my current choice is Duncan Hunter … but who knows anything about him?

    Posted by Stan | December 23, 2007, 6:55 pm
  7. >As bad as I would hate to have to vote for Guiliani, I just see him as the best Republican candidate. He is a politician through and through, and friends, I’m afraid that’s what it takes in Washington. He has the ability to bring good leadership around him “and” take charge himself.—————————————Huckabee can hire a strong Chief of Staff and surround himself with other capable leaders as Bush did.—————————————Jeff, you know I have been a die hard Bush man. I voted for him twice and support his decision to go into Iraq. However, the “capable” leaders he has chosen I can count on less than one hand. By far, he has proven to be a terrible administrator. I am too afraid to chance that with a guy like Huckabee.Here’s an option, after a good politician gets the country straightened out we can put a guy like Huckabee in. I’m just afraid there’s too much at stake right now. Do you realize what all the next President will inherit? A current war with Iraq, trashed foreign relations, and an economy on the brink of disaster. I know all of these guys are talking about social security, reforming the IRS, and health care. But you know what? These are the same issues Bush and everybody else over the past 10-15 years have been promising and guess what, they’ve done practically nothing. We still have the same IRS, the same social security system, and the same health care problems only they’ve gotten worse.It’s a sad situation, this system we have. However, it’s the best in the world and we have to deal with it for what it is. And what it is is a good ole boy system that has to be worked the right way. Slick Willie knew that and worked it better than anybody. He is a slime ball but a class A politician.Guiliani is also a slime ball and a great politician. I’m putting my money on the slime ball and I’ll just have to pray for him a lot. It’s either that or all of you can get ready to have a lady President by the last name of Clinton.

    Posted by Mark Mathews | December 22, 2007, 3:47 am
  8. >I think Huckabee can definitely bring the country together and work with the other side of the aisle. For one thing, he has more executive experience than anyone else in the race. He was Governor of Arkansas for over ten years. Also, Arkansas is a heavily, Democratic state. On top of that, Huckabee got 48% of the african-american vote. I think these things speak highly of Huckabee in regards to both his electibility and his ability to extend his hand across the aisle.

    Posted by J.Wizzle | December 22, 2007, 1:18 am
  9. >Hello, Stan. Thanks for joining the discussion. “(My likely choice is way down the list.)”Hmm…Alan Keyes, perhaps? 😉

    Posted by Jeff Wright | December 22, 2007, 1:13 am
  10. >”A key point here is not whether you agree with where they stand (although that is important) but whether they can actually do something about these problems.”Right. This is why I don’t even discuss Alan Keyes, Ron Paul, or Tom Tancredo (who has dropped out of the race). This is part of the unease I feel about Huckabee. I do not know that he is the strongest executive leader of the bunch. If it came down to leadership abilities alone than maybe I would go with Guiliani. But it does not come down to executive leadership alone. You mentioned whether they can actually do something about the problems and I agree but WHAT they will do about the problems is very important. I think MORE important. As far as execution goes, Huckabee can hire a strong Chief of Staff and surround himself with other capable leaders as Bush did.

    Posted by Jeff Wright | December 22, 2007, 1:11 am
  11. >A key point here is not whether you agree with where they stand (although that is important) but whether they can actually do something about these problems. With a democratic majority we need someone who can work across party lines to get people to act. You can vote for these guys because you agree with where they stand but we’re not electing a king. The person you elect has to be able to get other people to act with him. Otherwise he’s just somebody you agree with.This in mind, McCain and Guiliani are the best choices.

    Posted by Mark Mathews | December 22, 2007, 12:01 am
  12. >I found an interesting political quiz at the Washington Post. Its called Choose Your Candidate. It has 25 questions covering various political issues. Here are my results:1) Rudy Guiliani – 105 pts, agreed with 2 answers. Iraq, Iraq 2.2) Mike Huckabee – 51 pts, agreed with 4 answers. Social Security 2, National Security, Energy, Immigration 2.3) Fred Thompson – 42 pts, agreed with 7 answers. Immigration, Economy, Budget Issues, Budget Issues 2, Gay Marriage, Gay Marriage 2, Poverty.4) John McCain – 30 pts, agreed with 7 answers. Health care, Social Security, Energy 2, Affirmitive Action, Education 2, Abortion, Gun Control.5) Ron Paul – 10 pts, agreed with 2 answers. Economy 2, Gun Control.6) Mitt Romney – 5 pts, agreed with 1 answer. Gun Control 2.You do not know which candidate gave which answer when you are choosing the one you agree with the most, of course. Guiliani came in first with me but that seems skewed because I only agreed with him on 2 answers. The reason that happened is because you weight your selections accorinding to Very Important, Somewhat, etc. I answered Very Important on the two answers about Iraq that I agreed with Guiliani on. The quiz confirmed that Thompson and Huckabee are the two candidates I agree with the most.

    Posted by Jeff Wright | December 21, 2007, 11:50 pm
  13. >I edited the original post and added a second section where I’ve begun to address a couple of the concerns I have with Huckabee.

    Posted by Jeff Wright | December 21, 2007, 11:36 pm
  14. >”Wow. I did not know that that was being rumored.”Yeah…I just e-mailed that article to you.

    Posted by J.Wizzle | December 21, 2007, 8:20 pm
  15. >From J-Wizzle. Article by Dick Morris:”As his political consultant in the early ’90s and one who has been following Arkansas politics for 30 years, let me clue you in: Mike Huckabee is a fiscal conservative.A recent column by Bob Novak excoriated Huckabee for a “47 percent increase in state tax burden.” But during Huckabee’s years in office, total state tax burden — all 50 states combined — rose by twice as much: 98 percent, increasing from $743 billion in 1993 to $1.47 trillion in 2005.In Arkansas, the income tax when he took office was 1 percent for the poorest taxpayers and 7 percent for the richest, exactly where it stood when he left the statehouse 11 years later. But, in the interim, he doubled the standard deduction and the child care credit, repealed capital gains taxes for home sales, lowered the capital gains rate, expanded the homestead exemption and set up tax-free savings accounts for medical care and college tuition. Most impressively, when he had to pass an income tax surcharge amid the drop in revenues after Sept. 11, 2001, he repealed it three years later when he didn’t need it any longer.”I have to admit, that presents a better picture than some of Huckabee’s critics are painting. I do like the idea of abolishing the IRS and replacing it with the FAIR tax. Whether or not it would be realistic to expect the president to actually implement that change is another matter. I’ll re-consider Huckabee in the area of taxes and fiscal conservatism.

    Posted by Jeff Wright | December 21, 2007, 8:16 pm
  16. >”PT, I wanted to bring up something else. Pat Buchanan thinks that if Fred has a poor showing in Iowa that he will drop out and endorse McCain (I’m guessing to help stop Romney). What do you think about that? Who would you vote for then?”Wow. I did not know that that was being rumored. I actually wish that McCain were more conservative because he would probably dominate in the general election. But he’s not. If that scenario happened before the TX primary, I would vote for Huckabee.

    Posted by Jeff Wright | December 21, 2007, 8:07 pm
  17. >”It’s strange that you take electibility in to account and then plan on voting for Fred Thompson.”Good point. However, the electability I was referring to was in the general election rather than the party primary. But if I consider Thompson’s electability in the GOP primary, yes, it looks like he doesn’t have much of a shot right now. I think it is valid for me to consider whether or not Thompson’s candidacy is a lost cause at this point. If it is, maybe I should consider the very top tier which I suppose is Romney, Guiliani, and Huckabee. I’m open to thinking about it.

    Posted by Jeff Wright | December 21, 2007, 8:05 pm
  18. >Boy, that’s a great question. Huckabee is 10 times more electable than Thompson!

    Posted by Mark Mathews | December 21, 2007, 4:41 pm
  19. >PT, I wanted to bring up something else. Pat Buchanan thinks that if Fred has a poor showing in Iowa that he will drop out and endorse McCain (I’m guessing to help stop Romney). What do you think about that? Who would you vote for then?

    Posted by J.Wizzle | December 21, 2007, 4:35 pm
  20. >I’m not going to write a long post about why you should vote for Huckabee. I’ve already sent Jeff a lot of articles on this issue. Many of them should put him and anyone else at ease when looking at Huckabee’s record on immigration, foreign policy, and taxes. Jeff, quick question. If you looks like it’s coming down to wither Romney or Huckabee, who would you vote for? Or would you still vote for Fred and neither of them?P.S.It’s strange that you take electibility in to account and then plan on voting for Fred Thompson.

    Posted by J.Wizzle | December 21, 2007, 4:22 pm
  21. >I understand your questions and concerns here but I wonder if God is as interested in having a Christian president as we think he is. I also acknowledge Romans 13:1 and gasp when I think of rulers such as Adolph Hitler, Joseph Stalin, and Saddam Hussein. Yet, the text says what it says. We see throughout the OT that God used many pagan rulers to carry out his plan for his people. So, while I do think God works through the leaders of the world to carry out his plan, I wonder how our “vote in faith” mentality coincides with Scripture.Are we told to vote in faith? Are we told to vote at all? I think we should vote, but I wonder where that particular command is. Certainly in light of our democratic society we can find texts that allude to that but to think anyone in Scripture had any idea of a democratic government is absurd. It simply did not exist. So we are left to work through some of these issues outside of what Scripture tells us explicitly.You raise some interesting questions. I guess the issue of electability is one of responsibility. Each party has the opportunity to determine who their candidate will be. We should cast our vote accordingly. But there is no sense wasting a vote thinking God is going to arbitrarily cause people who would otherwise vote for someone else to suddenly change their mind. This assumes God “wants” to have a Christian president in office. I just find that hard to believe. If that were the case, why doesn’t he have Christians in all seats of leadership all over the world? Is he that much more interested in America than other countries? It just doesn’t make sense. I think we should vote, but vote wisely in an effort to elect the best president for our country. Then, we should pray for him or her daily.

    Posted by Mark Mathews | December 21, 2007, 4:01 pm
  22. >This concept of “electability” is key for almost every voter out there, Christian and non-Christian alike. I hear people saying, “I like ___, but I probably won’t vote for him because he can’t win.” It is the common wisdom. I find it abhorrent as a believer that “there is no authority except from God and those that exist have been instituted by God” (Rom. 13:1). I’ve written several posts on the topic myself over the past month or so, including one about the need for a vote in faith and the other about the danger that we might be “going down to Egypt”. Do we, who believe that God is sovereign and holds all authority, really want to limit ourselves to who we think can be elected, or do we need to operate on conscience rather than pragmatism?I likely won’t vote for Huckabee, but not because he can’t win. (My likely choice is way down the list.) But I cannot vote based on mere pragmatism that says, “Evil will occur if I don’t vote against it”, suggesting “God needs my help to avoid evil from happening.”

    Posted by Stan | December 21, 2007, 2:50 pm

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