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Posted by on Dec 15, 2007 in At TMV | 6 comments

Huckabee Slams Bush, Becomes Frontrunner

Yesterday, the press was given an article where Huckabee was interviewed about his foreign policy views, and his tone towards Bush is, well, ballsy to say the least.

What’s more, I think this is a significant turning point in his campaign. I’ll explain why after some AP reportage…


“American foreign policy needs to change its tone and attitude, open up, and reach out,” Huckabee said. “The Bush administration’s arrogant bunker mentality has been counterproductive at home and abroad. My administration will recognize that the United States’ main fight today does not pit us against the world but pits the world against the terrorists.” […]

He said this year’s troop increase under Bush has resulted in significant but tenuous gains, and he said – much as Bush has – that he would not withdraw troops from Iraq any faster than Gen. David Petraeus, the top U.S. commander there, recommends. The military has now slowly begun to reverse the troop increase. […]

While the Foreign Affairs article is missing the one-liners he is known for, it does have a few folksy comparisons to illustrate his points. On Iran, for example, he makes a case for diplomacy by saying, “Before we put boots on the ground elsewhere, we had better have wingtips there first.”

Okay, so here’s the most important thing about Huck calling Bush out on his questionable foreign policy strategy: he’s giving a voice to a lot of Republicans and Independents who feel the same. Some of those folks have already joined the Ron Paul campaign, but I bet there are a lot more out there who don’t feel that we should become completely non-interventionist, we just need a new direction. So that’s why Huck’s not mincing words and he’s not playing coy. He’s stating it outright, and if there’s one thing that excites voters around election time, it’s straight talking.

Also, does it appear to anybody else that this move has Ed Rollins all over it? I certainly think so. Rollins understands that many independents don’t really want to vote for a Democrat like Hillary, but if Huck goes after Bush and says the same things a lot of moderate Republicans and Independents are thinking, he gives them permission to vote for…gasp…a Republican!

In short, I’m becoming more and more convinced that not only can Huckabee become the Republican nominee, he can also win the White House.

(crossposted at Donklephant)

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  • Elrod

    You’re forgetting that Mike Huckabee’s raison d’etre for his candidacy is his social conservatism and his career as a Southern Baptist minister. That’s going to win over moderate Republicans and Independents? Are you kidding? Huckabee is despised by non-Christianist Republicans – largely because he resembles the frankenstein they’ve created by appealing to the religious right so long. He actually means all the theocon stuff, unlike most other Republican corporatist bigwigs.

  • Republicrat

    This is a caricature, Elrod. How does his softer stance toward the children of non-documented workers fit with the neo-con worldview? How does raising taxes? Or how about his belief that global warming is real? Huckabee is electable precisely because (at least so far) he appears to be where a lot of Americans come down on issues.

  • C Stanley

    Elrod, I think, makes a common mistake: projecting one’s own views on others. Moderate Republicans don’t have a visceral fear or distaste for religious conservatives; they may want fiscal conservatism to return to its former place of prominence but they don’t necessarily want to rout out the social conservatives from their midst. True enough that the people in the party who are hard right on economic issues (the libertarian wing of the party, and the Norquist/Club for Growth factions) are attacking Huckabee and attempting to stop his surge. But the moderates? I think they’re seeing that this guy is highly likeable and electable, and guess what- moderate. He has policy positions that cross party lines and could easily appeal to centrists.

  • Elrod

    McCain also believes global warming is real, and has a relatively humane policy toward immigrants (though it was Huckabee who welcomed Minuteman founder Gilchrist’s endorsement). The only thing that separates McCain from Huckaee policy-wise is McCain’s neocon foreign policy. Oh, and his in-depth knowledge of policy. McCain, not surprisingly, does better among Independents and moderate Republicans than any other Republican candidate. He would be a real force in the general election, as every poll has shown.

    Yet, McCain is nowhere near the top in the GOP primary and Huckabee is soaring. Why could that be? Could it be that Huckabee’s rise is associated with the biggest “character” issue that separates him from McCain – notably Huckabee’s Southern Baptist ministry. Forget for a moment McCain’s pro-life record, McCain doesn’t parade his religion as the raison d’etre for his campaign. McCain, despite his public re-embrace of Falwell last year, is still loathed by the Christian Right for his “Agents of Intolerance” comments in 2000. McCain is distrusted by the economic conservative base of the GOP for the same reason Huckabee is; both might actually raise taxes. But Huckabee is a genuine religious right leader, even if he is not as “angry” as some of the more Dobsonian elements.

    It isn’t that moderate Republicans despise religious conservatives. It’s that they don’t want the party led by somebody whose primary qualification for the nomination is his Southern Baptist ministry (as you yourself suggest). For Huckabee’s campaign up to now, his ministry background is at the forefront – even more than his governorship of Arkansas. Sure, he’s likable on the surface, but every moderate Republican I know supports Giuliani or McCain precisely because they want to return the party to fiscal conservative/law and order roots and not social conservatism at the top of the masthead. Moderate Republicans aren’t necessarily looking for likability, per se. They’re looking for moderation, somebody “sane,” socially tolerant, fiscally sound, not a “Christian leader” as Huckabee proclaimed in his Iowa ads.

    The GOP is a very establishment-oriented party. With one major exception – Reagan in 1976 (who almost got the nomination and set the stage for 1980) and Goldwater in 1964 – the Republican Party picks the nominee best able to unite all of the factions of conservatism with a character amenable to GOP voters. It was supposed to be George Allen until he macacaed out. Since then, there’s been no natural successor, which is deeply troublesome for Republican identity. Now the Republican Party risks falling into the trap the Democrats once fell in in the 1980s, where they become an interest group-dominated party whose nominee is less than the sum of its parts. With its core identity gone, the base shrinks and moderates defect to the other side.

  • C Stanley

    Now that comment contains a lot more that I’d agree with. However, no matter how powerful the GOP party establishment has been, I think they’re seeing that they aren’t omnipotent; clearly Huckabee is bypassing them right now and gaining appeal directly from the people. It remains to be seen whether or not that will outlast the early primary states (where he has natural appeal as an outside the beltway, folksy guy.) But to me it is looking more and more like a trend- the other candidates had their firewall states (Thompson, SC, and Giuliani, FL) and one by one the firewalls appear to not be fireproof. Those candidates may regret that their strategy to hold their fire on Huckabee in order to hurt Romney may backfire on them.

    The one part of your comment that I still disagree with is your read on moderate Republicans in general (your point seems rather like that famous quote from the newspaper editor who couldn’t believe that Nixon had won because no one she knew had voted for him.) In other words, I think the sentiment you are describing is more specifically attributed to moderate Republicans of your acquaintance, while most moderates in the party I think are just concerned about electability and don’t see an emphasis on Christian values as the liability that you do. In fact one of the reasons that I don’t think it’s as much of a liability for him is that he isn’t an intolerant type of Christian and he doesn’t seem to endorse any of the extreme ‘Christianist’ agenda- so I think he could be acceptable to a lot of Republicans who aren’t evangelicals.

  • Elrod

    It may be a matter of which moderate Republicans we’re talking about. Moderate Republicans I know are all of Northeastern origin – either New England, New York or Mid-Atlantic. To a person, they loathe the religious right but they support an aggressive foreign policy (not necessarily hardcore neocon), support lower taxes, lower spending – but also support the environment, social tolerance, public schools, etc. There are some of those folks here in East Tennessee too, mostly because this is an odd corner of the South where the GOP really is the Party of Lincoln (Civil War Unionists). The Lamar Alexander/Howard Baker wing of the party is still dominant here, and I’d call them “moderate” in comparison to the dominant GOP today; they’re more mainline Protestant (Presbyterian USA, Methodist, Cooperative Baptist) than they are Southern Baptist, Pentacostal or Church of Christ of the Middle and West Tennessee GOP. In the Northeast, most moderate Republicans were mainline Protestant or Catholic. I suppose in Georgia where you live (Atlanta area?) the Republican Party is more conservative than it is here. What moderate means in a Georgia context might be different than in East TN or the Northeast.

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