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Friday, November 16, 2007

Meet Mike Huckabee

posted by on November 16 at 12:20 PM

Posted by Ryan S. Jackson

Trying to successfully register as press for the King County Republicans’ Fall Dinner while admitting that yes, you’re there for The Stranger, is something like approaching the desk and announcing you’re a sexual predator. In a room where one of the KVI right wing radio guys is being treated like a rock star and the tables for the silent auction gleam with almost erotic reverence for Ronald Reagan, you feel very much alone.

This wasn’t the story I was there for, however. Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, newly minted by Iowa polling as tied with Mitt Romney for the lead, was making the keynote speech at the dinner and had agreed to a short press appearance, a rarity for candidates visiting this state and much-remarked-on by the assembled reporters.


The press conference was somewhat sparsely attended: myself (yes, I was able to make it in), David Postman of the Times, Hendrik Hertzberg of the New Yorker, Neil Modie of the PI, and a blogger from Sound Politics. Some of the highlights from the press conference:

-Huckabee seemed ready for the questions about some of the big-name evangelical endorsements going to Rudy, Romney and Fred Thompson. He noted pointedly that evangelical leaders closer to Washington DC seemed the least likely to support him, and continued to repeat the phrase "I'd rather have 100,000 soldiers than one general."

-On Iraq, Huckabee got in what one would assume to be a dig at neo-conservative leadership, noting Bush "listened to a lot of guys in silk ties and suits" rather than the generals. In the on-the-ground assessment, however, Huckabee said that he's "not accepting the premise that [Iraq] is worse than it was" and noted success in counter-terrorism operations in Anbar province.

-He considers Afghanistan a much worse situation than Iraq, comparing the local infastructure to "the surface of the moon," and going on to note that he believed the country was being driven to opium production by lack of other viable options. He didn't go into specifics on how he would turn the country around.

-A President Huckabee would have no interest in a draft, but is unhappy with the amount of military spending versus the country's GDP (he considers it to be unacceptably small).

-Huckabee intends to do web videos with Chuck Norris, and actually thinks Ron Paul is a great guy.

After the conference we were ushered out into the ballroom for the festivities. The fashion sense of the GOP faithful could be described as somewhat questionable, as Russel Johnson of apologized profusely to me for the elderly woman in the sheer outfit. Possibly in homage to the much-missed Reagan, most of the suits seemed to have been tailored sometime around the Gipper's second term.

Here's Johnson (right), with a blogger from Sound Politics:


At one point I shared a discussion with Doug Parris of Congressman Duncan Hunter's dark-horse campaign for president. How did the Congressman, polling at a fraction of one percent even in conservative Iowa and without any real issue to call his own, hope to become president?

The answer had something to do with chaos in the ranks of the GOP and Hugo Chavez. Behind me, another of the Hunter supporters was regaling a woman in a massive fur coat about the one-world government the French were hoping to create in Brussels.

I have to admit that at this point, I decided it was time for a martini.

The speeches began shortly after, with the crowd seeming pumped for Huckabee's appearance. A collection of county GOP functionaries led the introductions, and much backslapping ensued. Finally, the beaming Huckabee took the stage.

Mike Huckabee's stump speech, delivered in country tones of "aw-shucks, I guess I'm running for president," is something fairly incredible to witness. For the better part of forty minutes, he doesn't mention his opponents in the Republican field and only makes a single reference to the much-dreaded specter of "Islamo-fascism." He takes a pass on mentioning abortion, and the Clintons make appearances mostly as folksy anecdotes about what it took to win in Arkansas.

The seemingly dead electoral cliche Huckabee is dragging out to the stump is the American Dream, which he proceeds to give successful CPR to for almost forty minutes. Mike Huckabee's worked for everything he has. Mike Huckabee is a generation removed from dirt floors. Mike Huckabee doesn't agree with illegal immigration, but he's so glad "he lives in a country people want to break into to, not a country people want to break out of."

In a contest where the cross-dressing former mayor of New York is fighting to the death against a Massachusetts governor who used to handbill supportive messages to Boston's gay community, Huckabee has an aura of sincerity that most of the other front runners could only dream of. The Democrats probably do not want to run against this man.

Almost to prove how impressive Huckabee's speech was, the next to take to the podium was Dino Rossi. Throughout the night he had been the topic of conversation by every speaker, and was greeted with chants of chants of, "DINO!" at every mention.

Rossi's speech seemed to open a black hole in the room, sucking out all air, light, and hope. Of the roughly twenty minutes he spoke, eighteen seemed to be devoted to Christine Gregoire. If you weren't aware, Gregoire is the "governor for the government." In case anyone missed it, Rossi seemed to repeat the line ad nauseum, each time to increasingly tepid response.

Despite opening his speech by calling his campaign a "citizens movement," the entirety of his time on stage was a time machine to 1994: Big government bad! Gregoire like big government! So Gregoire bad! It would seem that if this is the strategy for firing up the troops and taking out a sitting governor, there should probably be a plan B.

RSS icon Comments


Mike Huckabee, meet my mouth. Slurp.

Posted by Mr. Poe | November 16, 2007 12:27 PM

Call me silly but Huckabee is going to be the Cinderella of the GOP and the big surprise. I think he will get the nomination or be second. Either way, he is going to be on the ticket for the GOP in 2008.

Posted by New Deal Demoncrat | November 16, 2007 12:27 PM

I think you've got your metaphor mixed up a bit. A sexual predator would probably be quite welcome at a Republican event.

Posted by Mike | November 16, 2007 12:35 PM

Screw Huckabee. Spend more time with the really crazy ones. You should ask Fur Coat Lady if she knows where the European Parliament meets (hint: not Brussels). Or pretty much anyone there about (a) torture or (b) immigrants.

Posted by Fnarf | November 16, 2007 12:41 PM

I was really hoping there would be a picture of the sheerly-clad elderly woman. Like, sheer all over? Was she wearing undergarments? Details, details...

Posted by Julie | November 16, 2007 12:49 PM

They have red eyes!

Get behind me, Satan!!

Posted by Tlazolteotl | November 16, 2007 12:53 PM

What you don't seem to understand is that I'm sparing you from having seen that poor woman, who might well have children who might have to change their names and leave the state.

(Also, someone from the event said I was making people nervous with my camera, and that I needed to stop taking everyone's photo.)

Posted by R.Jackson, Intern to the Stars | November 16, 2007 12:54 PM

@7. Understandable, I guess. I didn't want to see her face or know who she was or anything. Just... you know... what type of sheer outfit, exactly, would an elderly woman wear. Same thing with fur coat lady. This sounds like it was an excellent people watching opportunity -- I'm a little jealous.

On another note, man, does the guy from look like a giant douche in that picture. Maybe it's just a bad picture, but wow.

Posted by Julie | November 16, 2007 1:04 PM

Nice report! I hope you got Hendrik Herzberg's autograph.

Posted by Brendan | November 16, 2007 1:06 PM

Aww, Mr. Poe and your daddy complex.

Posted by Lake | November 16, 2007 1:19 PM

Ever since I first saw Huckabee on the Daily Show, I've been worried he might get the nomination. He's the only Republican that I can see beating any of the Democrats. He oozes sincerity and folksy charm, but on the issues he might as well be Pat Robertson. I think the red eye in the photos is proof of demonic possession. Evil, and scary.

Posted by Cascadian | November 16, 2007 2:08 PM

Exactly, and his name is so presidential.


Posted by Will in Seattle | November 16, 2007 3:30 PM

The following article was commented on by Mort Kondracke. Mort said that if only one-third of the accusations were true, the Hucksters candidacy is over;

The Dark Side of Mike Huckabee

and just one more;


Posted by Winghunter | November 16, 2007 4:38 PM

@13 - Yes, if a third of them were true ... but it turns out, they're not. These have been investigated over and over again. I refer you to:

... the one finding against him was reversed on appeal. So, this is hardly damning stuff.

So, a bunch of reporters hate him. That's hardly a shock.

As for the Club for Growth ... again, this has been refuted. 90+ tax cuts, and a reduction in overall state spending if you don't count federal pass-through. Sure, he had to raise taxes at other times ... to meet mandates. States have to do that sometimes.

Even the sainted Gov. Reagan had to ... I can only speculate that CFG would have been against him, too?

Posted by Ken | November 16, 2007 5:31 PM

Dude. You name Doug Parris and list me only as a "Sound Politics blogger".
That's the last time I pretend to like ya!

Posted by Don Ward | November 16, 2007 5:46 PM

Winghunter, and others, Huckabee responds to all of the accusations made against him in this interview with Hannity & Colmes two days ago...

Check it out:

LINK: Huckabee on Hannity & Colmes

Posted by Joe | November 16, 2007 10:41 PM

Thanks, Ryan, for mentioning me over that Sound Politics Blogger. I know it was confusing, so just to clarify the Chaos theory,
LINK:Political Chain Reaction
Some people just have a proper sense of perspective, Don.

Posted by Doug Parris | November 18, 2007 4:19 AM

Club For Greed doesn't like him?

Somebody is really afraid of him. Remember earlier this year, before the Iowa Straw Poll, the Club for Growth spent around $100,000 on ads here slamming Huckabee when he was only polling around 1%. This same organization got a Federal Election Commission fine of $350,000 for failing to register as a political action group and failing to list its sources of contributions. (The biggest fine ever levied by the FEC)

Whether you agree fully with him or not, Huckabee is a man with a message (& not million$) and a man of character (& no consultants). I'll take someone with a solid core of principles that he's held for a long time versus a candidate who flip-flops depending on how the polls tell him to believe.

Posted by Dale Fitzpatrick | November 19, 2007 9:55 AM

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