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Posted by on Dec 22, 2007 in Politics, Religion | 7 comments

Guest Voice: Huckabee’s Smart Strategy Is No Accident

This is a Guest Voice column by Michael Reagan, Ronald Reagan’s oldest son, who is also a popular radio talk show host. Guest Voice columns do not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Moderate Voice or its writers.

Smart Strategy is No Accident

Making Sense, by Michael Reagan

In addition to seeing Mike Huckabee suddenly surge in the polls, the nation is also witnessing some of the smartest campaign strategies any candidate has displayed in a long time. The former Arkansas governor has shown he can play the game with the best of them, and better than most.

Let’s start with the Huckabee Christmas commercial, obviously aimed at evangelical Christians who constitute more than 40 percent of Iowa voters. Huckabee not only preached a sermon to that choir of Iowa voters, he spoke in front of what appeared to be a cross that appeared prominently in the background above his shoulder.

It’s important to keep in mind that this TV ad did not occur in isolation — it was an obvious response to Mitt Romney’s brilliant speech on his faith given the week before — a speech that won almost-universal praise. If the Rev. Mike Huckabee wanted to be seen as the Christian candidate, it required a response.

That’s what the latest Huckabee Iowa TV ad was — a 28-second answer to Romney’s speech.

That ad, one of the most brilliantly conceived and executed commercials ever seen, attracted worldwide attention. And no matter how many denials he and his supporters offer, that was a cross in the background and it was no accident it was highly visible. Remember that nothing happens by accident in politics. When it comes to such campaign gimmicks as TV commercials, everything is planned, down to the last detail.

That is not in the background because it is a bookcase — it was there because part of it forms a cross, plain and simple — the rest of the bookcase simply fades from view. And you have only 28 seconds to discern the fact that the cross that looms so prominently is merely part of a larger object.

It was a subliminal message, just as it was a subtle way of telling voters, “I’m the Christian, Romney is the Mormon.”

While it may have been part of a bookcase shelf or, as some say, a window, it was there because Huckabee and his advisors wanted it there to remind voters in Iowa that the candidate is a real Christian candidate running for the Republican nomination — one who is not afraid to display his Christianity boldly in this secular age which scoffs at all religious beliefs.

There’s no doubt in my mind that Ed Rollins, his top campaign advisor, planned that ad. Ed Rollins is a political genius when it comes to those kinds of issues and he proved that when he worked so effectively to put my father in the White House.

Mike Huckabee won’t admit it, but that ad was carefully crafted, it was effective, and it was his answer to Mitt Romney’s speech,

It’s interesting to note how those in mainstream media, who have so much trouble dealing with the birth of Christ, went absolutely bonkers over someone saying that he is a Christian, that what we are celebrating on December 25 is the birth of Jesus Christ, and daring to wish his fellow Americans “Merry Christmas” instead of some innocuous muttering such as “happy holidays.”

In his ad, Huckabee was also challenging the media by rubbing his faith in their faces.

Huckabee did in 28 seconds what it took Mitt Romney much longer. That’s political genius at work.

Mike Reagan, the eldest son of the late President Ronald Reagan, is heard on more than 200 talk radio stations nationally as part of the Radio America Network. ©2007 Mike Reagan. Mike’s column is distributed exclusively by: Cagle Cartoons, Inc.

TMV Editor’s Note:
Here is the actual ad:

  • pjacobsuk

    As a former news videographer, I can say with confidence that when you tape there are times a subject comes out with antlers from a background tree branch or a funny hat from the hood on a light pole. It just happens.
    I’ve just heard Huckabee’s description of the taping. It was taped quickly and at the end of the day and he was battling a throat infection. With that, I have no reason not to believe that that bookshelf (also being the whitest object in the background) became what the world was just dying to criticize -a Cross.
    I really don’t think Huckabee knew it would shine for the world to see. I seen weirder things happen.

  • Oh please… OF COURSE the cross is intentional (no matter how many shots it took to get it in there)! And we’re going to see more and more of this kind of ad. And that’s the way it is.

    What is remarkable is that, having created the golum/monster of activating the Christian right into the Republican Party mainstream, now that there is a genuine God’s honest Christian like Huckabee in there (a Baptist minister and everything, with a Bible College degree no less)… the main stream corporatists of the GOP (think the National Review and Wall Street Journal crowd) are absolutely APPALLED at the possibility of a Huckabee win! In their view, the whole point of activating the Christian right was to cynically exploit its disproportionate electoral power to advance their corporatist ends! A fake Christian like GW Bush who was really a corporate shill was just fine… but someone like Huckabee who thinks that Christ taught about helping the poor– even if it means raising the capital gains tax… well, the vapors don’t begin to describe their reaction!

    Injecting this kind of religion (and apparently a religious litmus test) into our public discourse is absolutely anathema to what the Constitution stands for… HOWEVER– it seems consistent with democratic values, as large numbers of people seem to think that this is o.k. (though until Huckabee, no one blatantly put it into a t.v. add before).

    Of course, given the mania over the steel columns that ended up forming a cross in the World Trade Center ruins (not to mention the Congress overwhelming passing a Christian country resolution recently), none of this is a surprise; it was only a matter of time before someone put not only Jesus, but the cross, directly into the political discourse of a campaign.

    Look: Romney’s speech was absolutely disgusting; let me not mince words. Quite contrary to doing what JFK did, and state that religious matters are PRIVATE– and have no place being litmus tests for public service or otherwise directly injected into the public sphere– Romney just tried to say YES THERE IS SUCH A RELIGIOUS LITMUS TEST… and me, being WHITE and sorta Christian should be good enough for the rest of you! Huck just trumped that… and said “I’m even Whiter and Christianer”.
    This is absolutely anathema to our Constitutional system… but its how its being played now.

    Again… the funniest part to me is how, having had people like Michael Reagan’s father activating this particular group into the party for the party’s own cynical corporate ends, now that decades later, a true believer is coming to the fore… they go absolutely crazy! It might be hilarious, if this particular group of cynical bastards weren’t currently in control of our country.

  • I think it says all we need to know that this is considered the message to appeal to the GOP’s Christian base according to Reagan.

    It was a subliminal message, just as it was a subtle way of telling voters, “I’m the Christian, Romney is the Mormon.”

  • Republicrat

    Gov. Huckabee has put the country on notice: He will run on who he is, and not run away from it. I haven’t heard any apologies yet on the pardons he gave.

    I agree with “Talking Dog” that National Review is appalled by Huckabee, since they’ve already endorsed Gov. Romney for the GOP nomination. But if on any given Sunday 40% of Americans attend church, and he can garner 2/3 of those votes, that’s a good start for next November’s election.

    As for the ad…

    For every person who reacted negatively to the Christmas ad, I suspect two reacted positively. It’s not just Christians saying “Merry Christmas” this year, and probably some of those even live in New Hampshire, where the ad ran. Ed Rollins coming to head the campaign was certainly Huckabee’s best Christmas gift this year!

    Say what you want. Huckabee is smooth, and he has enough positions that appeal to moderates (creative on immigration, believes in global warming, responsible taxation) that he could very well peel off enough votes to win the Big Chair.

  • DLS

    For every person who reacted negatively to the Christmas ad, I suspect two reacted positively.

    Yes, and the quality as well as the quantity is higher. Plenty of us have no problem with the mainstream Religious Right and we recoil at the bigoted and hateful behavior by the Left directed at anyone who is religious (except black Baptists who vote reliably Democratic, or the Jewish votes for Democrats that are expected nearly as much).

    Huckabee is much less defective than either Giuliani or Romney, and has some positive things to offer (decent, normal) people. That is the key issue here.

  • DLS

    the main stream corporatists of the GOP (think the National Review and Wall Street Journal crowd) are absolutely APPALLED at the possibility of a Huckabee win!

    Absolutely. The media are overwhelmingly liberal, but these two sources (and some others), which are conservative, are thorougly Northeastern-based establishmentarian. I bet many of them would love RINOs like Giuliani, Romney, or McCain, or Arlen Specter, etc. Don’t forget the vile behavior by the media in 1992 toward Perot on election night.

    What Huckabee said about exploitation of the Religious Right by the Republican Party (their votes are taken for granted; they’re allowed on the bus but never to have a say in where the bus is going) was absolutely correct.

    It’s so obvious even a non-religious guy, non-social-conservative like me can see what’s happening to them.

  • DLS

    The Wall Street Journal is also bitterly opposed to third parties or independent candidates and to proportional representation. Is anyone surprised?

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