Skip to comments.Huckabee questions McCain’s ability to ‘energize’ base
Posted on 02/12/2008 8:03:58 AM PST by TornadoAlley3
Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, showing no signs of giving up in his quest for the GOP nomination, on Tuesday questioned presumptive nominee Sen. John McCains (Ariz.) ability to turn out conservatives in a general election.
Huckabee, who has repeatedly bested McCain in conservative, Southern states, said he is the candidate winning the states that are essential to being elected as a Republican.
Republicans are not going to be elected because they carried Delaware, Connecticut, New York and California, Huckabee said, referring to some of the states McCain has won. He added that the question is whether the Arizonan will be able to energize the base of the party in a way that will get the foot soldiers out.
In a wide-ranging discussion with reporters at a breakfast sponsored by The Christian Science Monitor, Huckabee encouraged reporters to look a little deeper than just the number board.
Despite the long mathematical odds Huckabee faces as he remains in the race against McCain, the former governor indicated Tuesday morning that he has no plans to withdraw anytime soon. Huckabee said he plans to start campaigning in Wisconsin, which holds its primary Feb. 19, on Wednesday.
Campaign manager Chip Saltsman said after the breakfast that Huckabee would campaign there for much of the week and then make a decision about how much more time to spend in the state.
Wisconsin, which holds an open primary, would seem to be an obvious place for McCain to continue his path to the nomination on the backs of independent voters.
But Huckabee said the state has a strong pro-life core of Republican voters. The former governor said his support of a constitutional amendment banning abortion coupled with McCains opposition to such an amendment and his opposition to embryonic stem cell research will help him with conservative Republican voters there.
Huckabee also said his campaign planned to put a lot of effort into Texas, which is scheduled to hold its primary on March 4.
Texas is very, very important to us, Huckabee said, adding that he plans to spend a great deal of time there between now and March 4.
Despite the occasional attempt to distinguish himself from McCain on conservative issues, Huckabee continued to show an unwillingness to attack the senator.
That said, the former governor did question the long line of conservatives who have endorsed McCain in recent days, saying they are people that had nothing nice to say about him, and now theyre suddenly standing on stage with their arm around him.
Huckabee said he would never be the establishment candidate, but his supporters are not me-too people.
The former governor also sized up the current state of play in the Democratic contest, saying Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.), who is riding a wave of momentum, should have been taken more seriously from the beginning.
People underestimated Barack Obama and his capacity to inspire, Huckabee said. Obama may present a difficult challenge [for Republicans] because hes new and different, he added.
His weakness is he [has] never been tested.
Huckabee said Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) has run into trouble in recent contests because she can be too wonkish, and not as inspirational, as a candidate.
She does not have the personality of her husband. Very few people do, Huckabee said.
Despite the nearly cemented conventional wisdom that Huckabee cannot win the GOP nomination, he declined to talk about what he might do if he fails in his quest.
The former governor did rule out a third party bid and a Senate run. There has been a great deal of speculation that Huckabee might challenge Sen. Mark Pryor (D-Ark.), and the filing deadline to do so is inching closer.
Theres a greater chance that I would dye my hair green, cover my body with tattoos and go on a rock tour with Amy Winehouse, Huckabee joked.
The only way Huckabee would discuss the future, other than talking about his ongoing campaign, was to say that he would absolutely push for the anti-abortion rights amendment to be included in the GOP platform at this summers convention.
Huckabee’s right...not that Huckabee can do any better.
But he’s got a great ability to alienate it.
Is it even a question anymore?
The real question is: can Huckabee do any better?
Hmmm. Didn't see THAT one coming...
I question his ability to energize anything.
Exactly what I was thinking — Huck’s correct that McCain sucks, but Mr. Import-Illegal-Aliens-for-Jesus Huck is no better.
What? You not energized by his one liners? /s
Now there's a great campaign promise. I think I'd like the guy with a lessor chance of doing those things. ;-)
One thing a vote for Huckabee could do, is show the RNC that conservatives do not have to vote for their annointed one.
I agree. I guess one question is “What is the base?”. I don’t really know. The viability of the Republican party is, in my view, contingent upon answering that question and finding the common thread that unites. Clearly not all Republicans and not all conservatives have the same religious views, so specific details about one group’s religious convictions can’t be that point of unity. More general convictions like belief in self-determination, personal responsibility, the sanctity of life, commitment to providing the most nurturing environment for children, keeping America strong in the world, effort and merit-based achievement vs. socialism, etc. are more likely to be shared views and thus points of unity. What do we all agree on? Does anyone know?
The Huckster is only picking up support now because he's not John McCain.
He and McCain teamed up to get the last acceptable candidate out of the race and now he's representing himself as an alternative to McCain?
I'd vote for Ron Paul first, like the people in Montana.
I question Hucksterbee’s ability to energize anyone but brainwashed Amway/Quixtar pyramid scheme folks and religous fanatics.
My vote is with Ron Paul.
I disagree..check out Huck's speech from CPAC:
"If you can't beat 'em, maybe another option?""
Sunday, Jan 20, 2008
By David Sanders
When word got out this week that Sen. Mark Pryor wouldn't face the threat of a creditable Republican opponent, thanks, in part, to state Republican Party chairman Dennis Milligan's discouraging would-be challengers in his party from running against the first-term Democrat, it elicited a few responses from yours truly.
Simply on the surface, it appears that Milligan is derelict in his duties, which includes recruiting quality Republican candidates. His justification, best I can tell, is that putting up someone to challenge Pryor, who is widely considered unbeatable, might provide extra incentive for Democrats to work harder this year. Republicans don't want that, especially since Arkansas figures to be a target state in the upcoming presidential contest.
But is sitting out the race the only option for Republicans?
This election year has already provided numerous ups and downs - frankly, at times it has seemed like up is down and down is up. What was predicted to happen in the presidential primaries hasn't gone according to plan.
Since things are so unpredictable only weeks into 2008, there is always a possibility, albeit small, that the popular anti-Washington-we-need-a-change sentiment driving this presidential campaign, might, at some point, proliferate through the electorate and affect key senatorial and congressional contests, rendering vulnerable politicians who were once considered a lock for re-election.
That said, someone would have to be willing to run, to take advantage of such a future electoral ethos, but it appears the well is dry. No Republican of any stature is willing to challenge Pryor.
So I've come full circle - this isn't all Milligan's fault. In fact, fending off any serious challenge is a testament to Pryor's ability. He has avoided toeing the Democratic line in spite of some very serious divisions between the two parties.
During his five years in the Senate, he has carved out some positions that are indistinguishable from some of the Republicans running for president. That doesn't mean those positions were always preferred or acceptable. It's merely a qualitative appraisal of a record Pryor's staff likes to highlight these days.
In terms of the war in Iraq, Pryor went against his party, voting against a resolution to pull the troops out and another plan containing a defined timeline for a troop withdrawal. Pryor pushed a plan to leave Iraq, but with a "secret" pull-out date. For a while last year, Mitt Romney was supportive of Pryor's secret withdrawal.
He voted for the Patriot Act, which puts him in line with every Republican except Ron Paul.
After he voted for the ban on partial-birth abortion, he voted against a resolution affirming Roe v. Wade as the law of the land. This places him to the right of Rudy Giuliani and more in line with pro-life Republicans like Mike Huckabee and Fred Thompson, and others. (According to National Right to Life, Pryor's most recent votes on pro-life issues leave a lot to be desired.)
Pryor and Sen. John McCain teamed up together on the so-called "Gang of 14" to prevent a Senate meltdown over judicial appointments. They prevented Republicans from using the "nuclear option" to break the Democrats' filibuster, but they also cleared the way for many of Bush's nominees to receive a vote on the Senate floor.
Last summer, Pryor voted against his friend McCain to block the controversial immigration reform bill backed by the White House and Democratic leaders. In the past, Pryor had supported measures more friendly to illegal immigrants, which puts him in good company. Both Giuliani and Huckabee have now taken a hard line (to varying degrees) on illegal immigration, but in their previous jobs, both men supported pro-illegal immigrate policies.
Pryor voted to protect gun manufacturers from frivolous lawsuits and against a bill that would have outlawed a significant amount of gun ammunition as well as other bills supporting the Second Amendment, which puts him in line with Huckabee and Thompson, but to the right of Giuliani and Romney.
Milligan told The Associated Press that the 2006 Democratic sweep set Arkansas Republicans back 20 years. Since Arkansas' junior Democratic senator is getting a pass from Republicans and given the fact that he's been fairly conservative (comparatively speaking), Milligan and his party cohorts could, in the spirit of bipartisanship, consider Pryor for the GOP nomination. They have nothing to lose and are desperate to win.
------- David Sanders writes twice weekly for the Arkansas News Bureau in Little Rock and is a host of the Arkansas Education Television Network's "Unconventional Wisdom." His e-mail address is DavidJSanders@aol.com.
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