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. Darrel @Lone Rock Iowa

    Comparison chart for Huck and Dean
    Mike H Howie D
    Republican Demo/crat
    Salt Pepper
    White Black
    Composure Nerve Problems
    Going Up Down & Out
    Electable Questionable
    Rich Lowry has miss the mark a country mile on this one. No comparison
    Independant from Iowa

    December 14, 2007 11:06 pm at 11:06 pm |
  2. Ed, Santa Fe, NM

    Bush was qualified to be president? I think he's proved he wasn't. How about we elect someone HONEST for a change, and someone who doesn't have a personal agenda?

    December 14, 2007 11:21 pm at 11:21 pm |
  3. Farrell, Houston, Tx

    I don't care whether it's a democrat or republican that squashes Huckabee. This man has to be stopped.

    December 14, 2007 11:22 pm at 11:22 pm |
  4. Val Davydov, Agawam, MA

    Republican party is doomed if Huckabee is the one that gets the nomination.

    As governor of Arkansas, Huckabee dramatically increased state spending. During his two-term tenure, spending increased by more than 65 percent - at three times the rate of inflation.

    The number of government workers increased by 20 percent, and the state’s debt services increased by nearly $1 billion. Huckabee financed his spending binge with higher taxes. Under his leadership, the average Arkansan’s tax burden increased 47 percent, according to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, including increases in the state’s gas, sales, income, and cigarette taxes. He raised taxes on everything from groceries to nursing home beds.

    Huckabee answers these complaints by pointing out that he "cut taxes 94 times" while governor. True. But most of those tax cuts were tiny, like exempting residential lawn care from the sales tax. Some cuts reduced overall state revenues by as little as $15,000. On net, Huckabee increased state taxes by more than $500 million. In fact, Huckabee increased taxes in the state by more than Bill Clinton did.

    On its annual governor’s report card, Cato Institute gave Huckabee an "F" for fiscal policy during his final term, and an overall two-term grade of "D." Only four governors had worse scores, and 15 Democratic governors got higher grades, including well-known liberals like Ted Kulongoski of Oregon, Rod Blagojevich of Illinois, and Ed Rendell of Pennsylvania.

    But Huckabee doesn’t just embrace big government in the form of big taxes. He truly appears to believe that if something is a good idea it should be a federal government program.

    For example, having become health conscious while losing more than 120 pounds, he now calls for a national smoking ban. Because he believes that "art and music are as important as math and science" in public schools, he wants these programs funded - and thus, directed and administered - federally.

    Huckabee is, incidentally, the only Republican candidate for president who opposes school choice.

    He is the only Republican candidate who opposes President Bush’s veto of the Democrats’ proposed expansion of the State Children’s Health Insurance Program, and he is skeptical of most conservative proposals for entitlement reform.

    Calling himself "a different kind of Republican," Huckabee rails against high corporate profits and attacks free trade agreements. As governor, he raised the minimum wage and increased business regulation. He says it is "a biblical duty" to pass more regulation to fight global warming.

    Perhaps Huckabee’s only claim on conservative credentials is that as a former Baptist minister, he is more anti-abortion and anti-gay than the other candidates. In many ways, he has been running an overtly religion-based campaign. But even here, his preference is to increase and centralize federal government power.

    On election night in 2006, 55 percent of voters leaving the polls said they believed the Republican Party had become the party of big government. Mike Huckabee is doing his best to convert the other 45.

    I have a suggestion. Why doesn't this guy run on a Democratic side? He would fit right in. Wake up people!

    December 14, 2007 11:25 pm at 11:25 pm |
  5. S. Wright

    Rich Lowry is part and parcel of what is wrong with the current conservative problem: there are too many insiders in the beltway who have lost touch with Americans outside of it.

    Lowry whines, then whines some more, and whines a little more after that. He lost me as a conservative when he started hanging around Sean Hannity too much, and his brand of populist conservatism. Neither Lowry, nor Hannity, seem to be clued in to what Reagan believed. Both exemplify what Thomas Paine stated with regard to tolerance.

    It's not about shouting down your opposition, or continuously trying to be right all the time; it's about vigorous debate, exchange of ideas, and compromise when necessary.

    That's what conservatism stands for.

    December 14, 2007 11:37 pm at 11:37 pm |
  6. John Allen, Boston MA

    Great point. Huckabee IS unprepared to be president. Romney, on the other hand, may be the best prepared candidate the GOP has seen in a long time. I'm voting for Romney.

    December 14, 2007 11:41 pm at 11:41 pm |
  7. Chris F., Los Alamos, NM

    I don't know Lowry, but he is right... I am a conservative – socially, fiscally, militarily, and all. Mike is pro-life... only.

    Obama/Huckabee for the Democrats maybe... but my vote is with Fred!

    December 14, 2007 11:44 pm at 11:44 pm |
  8. No Socialist, NY

    huckabee is a sanitized version of bill clinton.

    he's another hillbilly carrying a 15 pound bible.

    plus he's a religious bigot.
    Posted By deroy WPB, FL : December 14, 2007 7:45 pm

    Even IF any of these comments were true, Huckabee would be a far better president than any of the Democrats. HUCKABEE 2008!

    December 14, 2007 11:45 pm at 11:45 pm |
  9. Mac Reynolds, Los Angeles, CA

    Honestly, Huckabee's record is MISERABLE. He is truly the "glass jaw" that the dems call him. That's why he has been the media darling for so long. Nobody ever calls him on his flip flops (like his new 8 point immigration bill that completely goes against what he has said in the past and in debates, etc.). He has so much baggage it is coming out of his ears. His days are numbered for SURE.

    December 14, 2007 11:45 pm at 11:45 pm |
  10. George, Billerica, Mass.

    Wow. So much for the 11th Commandment, "Thou shalt not speak ill of fellow Republicans."

    This religious component to the GOP is finally causing them headaches. They've pandered to the Christian right, most of the time have gotten their votes, but never quite delivered on the big promises. So surprise surprise many Republican voters now feel they are entitled to nominate whomever they want to, and now the party's establishment is objecting.

    This Republican nomination process is a window into an internal party struggle (social moderates vs. establishment vs. social conservatives) and I have to say I am loving every minute of it!

    December 14, 2007 11:46 pm at 11:46 pm |
  11. R Moore, Raleigh, NC

    Sounds like more desperation from the Romney campaign. Why can't his campaign just stick to the issues and show America why he should be president. Instead they waste tons of time and money bashing others. They are trying every angle to bash Huckabee. But I think most people see through it.

    I'm also amazed by the bigotry against Huckabee. In this politically correct world how can people call him names like hillbilly and make slighting remarks about his religion (15 lb bible). Are these the same people that preach tolerance? Sounds like the hypocracy they claim to hate.

    December 14, 2007 11:49 pm at 11:49 pm |
  12. larry browning coeburn, virginia

    I must admit that I am in complete "awe" of Mr Lowry's physic abilities concerning Mike Huckabee. This one man has discerned each and every vote of millions of people ! I know what my friends and family think about the upcoming vote(s)concerning all candidates. Hillary/Bilary will not win a national election. I also know that Obama has a chance but not much of one. A republican candidate will win the race in 08. NOT because of his party BUT because of the Dems lack of a message that makes sense to me and the rest of America. I personally do not know a single person that supports Hillary Clinton. I, like a lot folks here in Virginia well remember the "Clinton" days. I doubt this posting will appear given CNN's blatant support of Hillary. But prehaps the CLINTONNEWSNETWORK will let this slip by.
    L. Browning
    Coeburn, Virginia

    December 14, 2007 11:53 pm at 11:53 pm |
  13. Bryan Cox

    This is just another of many recent smear campaigns against Huckabee. Huckabee is likeable, honest, and intelligent. His spike in the poles is simply evidence that people are figuring this out. His religion should not make a difference to those who incessantly (and ironically) harp about tolerance (they simply mean that they want their views and values to carry the day instead).

    Huckabee is unquestionably electable and will undoubtedly rise further in the poles. Most people want the economic and environmental liberalism of the Democratic Party with the social conservatism of the Republican Party. Huckabee offers this balance much better than any of his closest competition, whether Democrat or Republican.

    All I can say is "Go Huckabee". I'm with ya!

    December 14, 2007 11:54 pm at 11:54 pm |
  14. No Socialist, NY

    huckabee is a sanitized version of bill clinton.

    he's another hillbilly carrying a 15 pound bible.

    plus he's a religious bigot.
    Posted By deroy WPB, FL : December 14, 2007 7:45 pm

    Even IF any of these statements were true he would still be a better president, by far, than any democrat.

    December 14, 2007 11:58 pm at 11:58 pm |
  15. Frank New york NY

    lowry doesnt know what hes talking about, huckabee appeals to more than just evangelicals because hes believable and likable.

    December 15, 2007 12:11 am at 12:11 am |
  16. Zach, Colorado Springs, CO

    I'm a registered republican but if Huckabee gets the nomination I’ll abstain. This whole Christian America façade needs to end here and now. Never thought I'd look to Europe for hope but we, as a people, really need to keep this crap out of the public sphere.

    December 15, 2007 12:13 am at 12:13 am |
  17. Glenn, Cary, NC

    "[A] Baptist pastor running on his religiosity would be rather overdoing it," – Lowry says?

    So. When a Mormon candidate trumpets his faith in a major media suck-up that's a powerful statement of personal principle. But when a Baptist candidate talks about his faith, it's somehow a cardinal political sin. Give me a break.

    Want to know what Mitt's chances of getting the nomination are? Just count the number of Mormans that are currently holding statewide offices in the south. Okay, so maybe statewide office would be an unfair test. Count the number of individual state legislators. Okay, Okay. Maybe not legislators. How about county or city office-holders? Sorry, Mitt.

    December 15, 2007 12:13 am at 12:13 am |
  18. Anonymous

    Another point i forget to make is that judging huckabee on his religion would be as unfair as judging obama on the color of his skin, its not fair and it shouldn't be discussed. Huckabee has said that he doesnt force his beliefs on other people also.

    December 15, 2007 12:14 am at 12:14 am |
  19. bob,laguna beach

    Huckabee is the man...all the way to the Whit House!!!!!

    December 15, 2007 12:19 am at 12:19 am |
  20. Dem, San Diego

    As a democrat, I would vote for the guy. No one else can honestly answer a question.

    December 15, 2007 12:20 am at 12:20 am |
  21. Michael, Cedar Rapids, Iowa

    This article has it exactly right. There are so many reasons why a two-bit Baptist minister is so wrong as President. His biggest accomplishment was losing 110 pounds.

    December 15, 2007 12:21 am at 12:21 am |
  22. Ross Lippincott; Davenport Iowa.

    I for one am getting sick and tired of the GOP trying to manipulate this election to turn out the way they want.
    If they have their way, it'll come down to Hillary and Rudy. America's best hope is that Obama and Huckabee get to square off. That would give this country the best oppertunity for the change it so desperatly needs.
    And that's my oppinion.

    December 15, 2007 12:22 am at 12:22 am |
  23. Nick, Fredericksburg VA

    The political pundits and party machines would love to pigeon hole the Huckabee campaign as only pertinant to a religous fringe. However his very surge is evidence that there is a huge opening for a believable pro-life candidate, who is also concerned about social and economic justice both domestically and internationally. This has the potential to cut across old political lines, and makes Mike Huckabee very electable. Let the fresh wind blow! It is time for change.

    December 15, 2007 12:32 am at 12:32 am |
  24. Clinton Andrews, Grosse Pointe, Michigan

    Rich Lowry bet on a horse (Mitt), and if the horse doesn't win, Rich loses.
    Ed Rollins has a track record of picking winners (some obscure actor with little political experience named Reagan). Rollins has bet the farm on Huckabee. Ladies and gentlemen, place your bets.

    December 15, 2007 12:46 am at 12:46 am |
  25. Jason, Albuquerque New Mexico

    Ron Paul has been surging longer than Huckabee. As a minister myself, I support Paul over Huckabee, because Huckabee is dangerous, and his views are narrowly construed. He doesn't represent Christianity in a large percentage of thinking ministers.

    Ron Paul followers, have love built into their slogan. That is more Christian than anything Huckabee is saying.

    December 15, 2007 12:53 am at 12:53 am |
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