December 15th, 2007
12:45 PM ET
14 years ago

Lowry: Dems will squash Huckabee

Is Huckabee this year's Howard Dean?

WASHINGTON (CNN) - Is Mike Huckabee the new Howard Dean?

That's what one prominent conservative thinks, and he's warning his fellow Republicans not to nominate the former Arkansas governor.

Rich Lowry, an editor of the conservative publication the National Review (which endorsed rival Mitt Romney this week), writes on the Republican Web site Friday that nominating Huckabee would amount to "an act of suicide" for the party.

"Like Dean, Huckabee is an under-vetted former governor who is manifestly unprepared to be president of the United States," Lowry writes. "Like Dean, he is rising toward the top of polls in a crowded field based on his appeal to a particular niche of his party."

"As with Dean, his vulnerabilities in a general election are so screamingly obvious that it's hard to believe that primary voters, once they focus seriously on their choice, will nominate him," he adds.

Huckabee, an ordained Baptist minister, has gained ground in several key primary states largely due to his appeal to Republican evangelical voters. Recent polls have suggested he now holds a double-digit lead over Romney in Iowa, and is in front of Rudy Giuliani and Fred Thompson in South Carolina.

And in the latest sign Huckabee's campaign is gaining serious momentum, veteran GOP strategist Ed Rollins - the architect of Ronald Reagan's 1984 landslide re-election victory - has signed on to help manage the operation.

Not so fast, says Lowry. According to the conservative commentator, nominating a Baptist minister would turn one of the party's assets - its message of social conservatism - into a liability.

"[A] Baptist pastor running on his religiosity would be rather overdoing it," he wrote. "Social conservatism has to be part of the Republican message, but it can't be the message in its entirety."

In response to Lowry's column, campaign manager Chip Saltsman defended Huckabee's electability and record as governor.

"Rich Lowry should know that four of the past five U.S. presidents have been governors, and all but Ronald Reagan were from the South," Saltsman said. "Mike Huckabee's candidacy is picking up steam because his optimistic, conservative message is resonating with voters who are looking for a leader with vision and experience. He has been elected four times for statewide office, twice as governor, in a Democratic-state because he places a premium on results, and that's what the American people are looking for."

- CNN Ticker Producer Alexander Mooney

Filed under: Mike Huckabee
soundoff (261 Responses)
  1. Luk Barka, Oklahoma City, OK

    Supporters of Mitt Romney are wearry, like the ignorant Glenn Beck who know basically zero about politics or any thing else for that matter, are saying that Huckabee doesn't have what it takes but the fact is that Huckabee is the most honest and down to earth candidate of the bunch.

    December 14, 2007 08:09 pm at 8:09 pm |
  2. HUCK,LA.


    December 14, 2007 08:11 pm at 8:11 pm |
  3. D.J., Laramie, WY


    December 14, 2007 08:16 pm at 8:16 pm |
  4. Ben Marble, M.D.

    Huckabee and Romney are BOTH 100% guaranteed LOSERS in the general election. If the REPUKES hope to win they will not choose either of them. Their single best candidate lies in RON PAUL who would easily defeat anyone the democrats put on the ticket.

    December 14, 2007 08:16 pm at 8:16 pm |
  5. raskele

    CNN: This story on the H is disgraceful. You do not have to give vent to people who have already indicated which side they are on as the gospel. The man said he supports Mitt. What do you expect? Same with G. Beck today. The guy is a Mormon, what do you expect? Use your panel. Caferty etc

    Again caught wrong footed.

    December 14, 2007 08:18 pm at 8:18 pm |
  6. Steve, Cedar Rapids, Iowa

    I just can't undertsand why the Republicans are out to blur the lines between Church and State. Go ahead and nominate looney right winger.. just helps elect more Dems next year. It won't matter who they nominate, the next elcetion as it stands now is the Dems to lose.

    December 14, 2007 08:23 pm at 8:23 pm |
  7. Sara Johnson sc

    If all the polls were right, why should we spend the money for an election??
    i thing before we start naming the next president or even the candidates we should wait for the votes to be counted.

    December 14, 2007 08:25 pm at 8:25 pm |
  8. Robert, Shelton, CT

    It shouldn't all be about winning, it's about principle first...

    December 14, 2007 08:28 pm at 8:28 pm |
  9. Barbara, Culver City, CA

    I never thought I'd find myself agreeing with anything printed in the National Review, but I think Rich Lowry is right on the money here. The Republican party is already in serious difficulty, perhaps in its death throes. Nominating Huckabee could be the nail in the coffin.

    December 14, 2007 08:39 pm at 8:39 pm |
  10. Jeff Jones

    How amusing that Democrats have the audacity to condemn even a single Republican candidate. Don't they even begin to realize that nominating Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama in the primary is the beginning of thier demise in the general election. How blind can liberals be. America WILL NOT elect Hillary Clinton or a black candidate who has a name that sounds like it was ripped out of an Al Qaeda handbook. Democrats, get a grip, Huckabee will destroy your top leading candidates in a general election. Democrats love to ride the emotional roller-coaster. In 2004 it was a banshee-screaming Howard Dean. This election cycle it is a cynically youthful candidate who presents canned speeches. You see, Democrats are driven by animalistic emotion, while Republicans think through things rationally. Therein lies the difference.

    December 14, 2007 08:42 pm at 8:42 pm |
  11. Shawnie - Grants Pass, OR

    Howard Dean my eye. He is Ross Perot + Gomer Pyle, and yes, you nominate him and the Presidency belongs to Clinton.

    December 14, 2007 08:42 pm at 8:42 pm |
  12. Jason, Austin, Tx

    Unprepared? You can disagree with Gov. Huckabee's policies, but to say he is not experienced is a stretch. His ten years as governor give him more executive experience than anyone else in the Republican presidential primary. Gov. Huckabee is a considerably prepared candidate so much so that his fellow Governors selected him to chair the National Governors Association in 2006.

    December 14, 2007 08:50 pm at 8:50 pm |
  13. Tarvis Provo Utah

    Huck, doesn't represent all of the base. I don't support his anti-mormon reteric and his running on a religous stance. He has week support out side of Iowa and most of that support in Iowa is from "one nich" as stated in the obove article. A vote for Mike is a Vote for a DEM. Wake up Iowa you don't represent all of the U.S.A.,nor do you represent all of the Republican base either. We want to win. This election is bigger than 2000 and 2004.

    December 14, 2007 08:53 pm at 8:53 pm |
  14. Dale Davis, Glendora, California

    Trust me. The Clintons are just waiting for Huck to get in. Just read the Drudge Report. The Clinton machine will do stuff you will not even imagine. They're just holding back for now.

    December 14, 2007 08:55 pm at 8:55 pm |
  15. Jon, Conway, Arkansas

    Huckabee as a governor stunk and I would hate to see do worse as President. As a student in Arkansas' failing education system, Huckabee has managed to land us 49th out of 50 in education. While he may impress many with charm and a sudden "Jarrod" syndrome with his weight, his ability to speak can only take him so much further than his track record as governor. Ignore his southern charm as it is only to get into OUR house.

    December 14, 2007 08:59 pm at 8:59 pm |
  16. JS, Columbia, SC

    Rich Lowry is scared. Anyone who reads the ticker and thinks for a minute he would say anything kind about any candidate other than Romney should join Lowry's losing campaign. I was undecided until doing some serious research on ALL the candidates and Mike Huckabee has far more executive experience and aplomb that Mr. Romney and he certainly is a better communicator, not to mention more honest and consistent than Flip Flomney.

    December 14, 2007 09:01 pm at 9:01 pm |
  17. Steve Mantua, NJ

    Ron Paul is the only Republican that can beat the Democrats? C'mon Tim, was that a serious comment? Atleast it would have made more sense if you said Ron Paul is the only libertarian who can beat the Democrats. In any event the man is irrelevant.

    December 14, 2007 09:07 pm at 9:07 pm |
  18. Tom - D.C.

    7:45 – Do have anything to show that demonstrates Huckabee is a religious bigot or are repeating party lines without any thinking?

    December 14, 2007 09:15 pm at 9:15 pm |
  19. Peter, Sandwich, MA

    I think in order to win presidential elections the candidate has to bring independent votes without discouraging his or her base. That's the reason why, say, Hillary is playing it both ways and try to position herself in the middle rather than extreme left.

    Huckabee, imho, plays it exclusively for the evangelicals who mentioned that they will not support Romney because of his faith.

    I am a registered republican in the people's republic of Massachusetts, so I know what a tough political discussion looks like 🙂 But I am scared of a candidate who bases his political decisions exclusively on his faith, this is not the right way to run the country or any civil enterprise, imho.

    I will be voting for Mitt in primaries and only for Mitt or Rudy if they win the nomination. I will not be wasting my time on any other republican nomination, in my opinion they are just not electable and Huckabee is CERTAINLY not my candidate.

    December 14, 2007 09:19 pm at 9:19 pm |
  20. Libby

    I sooooooo want the Republicans to choose Huckabee over Giuliani. Huckabee is supported by a niche of psychotics, the Christian evangelicals, which won't translate into popular support in the presidential contest. Giuliani is more of a mainstream candidate.

    December 14, 2007 09:24 pm at 9:24 pm |
  21. Libby, Orlando, FL

    I sooooo want the Republicans to choose Huckabee as their nominee. Huckabee will never play well in California, New York, etc .... Huckabee is a niche candidate ... he appeals to the minority Christian fundamentalist sect. Come on .... Democrats win in a landslide especially after Huckabee's comment that "women need to submit to their husbands." LOL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    December 14, 2007 09:29 pm at 9:29 pm |
  22. Lori Huthoefer, Diamondhead, MS

    Does everyone realize that if Hillary Clinton is elected, 2 families (Bush and Clinton) will have dominated U.S. politics for 24 years and potentially longer if she serves 2 terms? Mike Huckabee is the only candidate that comes to the table with one real tangible change: ELIMINATE THE IRS. Although it needs to be thoroughly studied, that alone will bring widesweeping changes. A two-time governor is certainly as qualified as anyone else, and everyone knows that much of the President's effectiveness is based on his cabinet and close advisors. Huckabee seems honest, genuinely focused on moral priorities, and most importantly willing to accept he may not be perfect, but eager to seek the right answer when needed. I don't feel that he would choose cabinet positions based on favoritism, but rather on qualification. That's an important message that is represented by the way he has run his campaign. The fact that he has been able to come this far on a shoestring budget tells me he's got an eye for fiscal conservatism, and not the same old game that has dominated U.S. politics for my lifetime. I'm watching him VERY closely, and like many, I like what I hear and see!

    December 14, 2007 09:29 pm at 9:29 pm |
  23. Lori, Lutz, Fl

    I am a registered Republican who is a social conservative & liberal depending on the issue. I like Richardson, Edwards & Clinton. Over the years I have come full circle on the Bushes & Clintons as far as liking & disliking them. I plan on voting for Clinton. I wish She would have one of those other two as VP. I would never vote for Obama for prez with his lack of experience. I cannot believe the ignorance of people who would vote for him because Oprah tells them to. That is scary. As has been said; let Hillary win this time around. Obama can gain some more experience & then maybe we can elect him in the future. That is just one woman's opinion.

    December 14, 2007 09:37 pm at 9:37 pm |
  24. N. Granados, Gilbert, Arizona

    Mr. Huckabee's appeal goes beyond the religious niche of the Republican party. He is the only candidate whose actions and words display a fully and properly formed conscience. He is someone that people feel they can trust. People are tired of party lines and politicians and investigations. They are looking for civil servants they can trust to look after the best interests of the country and its citizens.

    December 14, 2007 09:39 pm at 9:39 pm |
  25. Glen, Boston, MA

    It's interesting to watch this tenuous affair between the evangelical right (use of gov't to forward social agenda like liberals did since the 1960s) and real Republicans (little gov't interference). It was only a well funded and well orchestrated political machine that turned Southern Democrats into Southern Republicans.

    With the implosion of the Bush administration, it seems that symbiotic, if exceedingily hypocritical, relationship of two contradictory worldviews using the other for votes and power has been strained.

    I wonder if the evangelicals will return to the party that serves their economic interest (Democrats) or continue to fight for the party that gives lip-service to their social agenda (Republicans). Time will tell.

    December 14, 2007 09:40 pm at 9:40 pm |
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