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 Townhall.com 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. Angela, Charlottte, NC

    I question whether Gov. Huckabee's rise is a result of his religious beliefs so much as his promise to abolish taxes during a debate. That being so, perhaps he should be asked how he intends to do it, and research should sbe done to show how it will affect average families.

    December 15, 2007 05:35 am at 5:35 am |
  2. Maeve

    Probably the most interesting and accurate aspect of Lowry's pontificating is that Huckabee has not yet been vetted appropriately.

    It's true that Huckabee largely has gotten a pass on questions that don't lean upon his religiosity in all the debates and in most television appearances. Has he really gotten grilled yet on his take on fiscal issues or the war in Iraq, for example? No. He's gotten softballs: questions that ask, for instance, if children of immigrants should be punished, which allow him to go all ethically pedantic on his fellow republicans.

    Sometime soon, maybe after a primary win in South Carolina and/or Iowa (folks in New Hampshire won't be swayed so easliy by a Baptist preacher), Huckabee's feet will be held to the fire, and the electorate will get a better look at the kind of guy republicans imagine they could embrace in the general election.

    Once they get a clearer and broader view, a big case of buyer's remorse will probably set in.

    Target stores shouldn't be adding employees to handle a stampede of people checking into what the Huckabee family has on their gift registry just yet.

    December 15, 2007 05:56 am at 5:56 am |
  3. Bob, DC

    People like his candid straightforward style. He appears to be authentic and speaks with passion. The guy has real charisma and charm. It's the emphasis on the religious stuff that bothers me. There was good reason our founding fathers wrote about seperation of church and state.

    December 15, 2007 06:02 am at 6:02 am |
  4. go4it, Columbia, SC

    Ron Paul would dominate the Democrats. Paul would win in a landslide against ANY democrat. But will the Republican voters be smart enough to elect him?

    December 15, 2007 06:23 am at 6:23 am |
  5. David Ware, Nouakchott, Mauritania

    Unfair politics....people start to prefer a candidate tand the party and press start a campaign against him by saying he would loose. What is this?

    December 15, 2007 06:38 am at 6:38 am |
  6. Independent in IA

    If Huckleberry wins (by some far stretch of the imagination) the general election, be prepared for disquieting truths:

    1. Shoe sales in America will drop dramatically....all the women who now spend hours finding '...just the right style' will be barefoot in the kitchen with one child balanced on her hip and at least one tugging on her dress.

    2. Drug manufacturers will have to stop making birth-control pills.

    3. Home owners will HAVE to invest in state-of-the-art protection systems to safeguard their families from released rapists.

    Is this really what you want?

    December 15, 2007 06:43 am at 6:43 am |
  7. Andy, Hickory NC

    "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." I'll bet Lowry wrote nearly identical words about Bill Clinton in 1992. Maybe about Reagan in 1980, too.

    December 15, 2007 06:59 am at 6:59 am |
  8. ANDROLOMA, Commerce City, Colorado

    Aren't the American people tired of theocratic retards?

    This country needs freedom from religion!

    December 15, 2007 07:37 am at 7:37 am |
  9. Terry, El Paso, TX

    Independent of IA says, "3. Home owners will HAVE to invest in state-of-the-art protection systems to safeguard their families from released rapists."

    That is an incredibly stupid thing to say, Independent. I will not insult your intelligence by suggesting that you really believe what you wrote, so I have to wonder why you are trying to portray Huckabee as "pro rape" and who you support – or work for. Unfortunately for America, some of the lackwits will pick this up and repeat it – again not because it is true, it is an obvious lie. But it is the kind of slur that tars the candidate in the minds of the unthinking.

    December 15, 2007 07:58 am at 7:58 am |
  10. anon, new york, NY

    Another Romney supporter showing his personal bias against Huckabee. Who cares his bias?

    Romney has many weaknesses too – his religion, his lacklustre political records, etc.

    December 15, 2007 07:59 am at 7:59 am |
  11. Karen Houston TX

    Huckabee's experience as governor is a good indicator of what kind of president he will be.

    Left the state with a half billion dollar defecit. Fought for special rights for illegals.
    Increased taxes 21 times while in office. Increased the cigarette tax 105%. Increased the gas tax 15%.

    Huckabee is not a moderate conservative. His record shows he is on the extreme right on social issues and a liberal on economic issues. He has no international experience and no foreign policy experience.

    He has MANIPULATED the right with his sly, distasteful "Christian candidate" ploy.

    I am one of the many millions who will not vote for this candidate under any circumstance.

    December 15, 2007 08:01 am at 8:01 am |
  12. Mike, Stevens Point, WI

    I must either be an anomaly or an idiot in this discussion, probably the latter. I'm a life long Democrat and an atheist for the past 5 years. Yet, I would vote for Huckabee over all but two of the Democrat candidates. My thoughts and beliefs aren't in line with all of his. However, he comes across as the genuine article.

    My frustration runs deep with bought off and rehearsed politicians. America has been over run with lies bought with corporate dollars for so long, that a candidate who is true to himself is what this country needs. We need to get out of the mindset of accepting crooked and paid for politics.

    December 15, 2007 08:02 am at 8:02 am |
  13. Dave, Beulah Michigan

    I couldn't agree with Lowry more. I have voted republican for 30 years and will bolt the party if he gets the nod.
    Run Newt – RUN!

    December 15, 2007 08:09 am at 8:09 am |
  14. Lee M, NJ

    "People are panicking on the Repub side because they know an avowed "Christian leader" who's as anti-science as he is pro-war will sink like a boulder in the general election lake, even if nominated. And even the Repubs won't nominate this guy."

    Posted By Steve, Lyons, CO : December 14, 2007 10:48 pm

    Steve, what are you really saying? That the Repubs would be better off covering up the fact that they are anti-science and would like the church and state mix some more?

    Why cover it up! Let's celebrate the fact that it's in the open and so people either for or against it will have a clear choice, rather than dealing with phonies who pretend to be all things to all people.

    And "they" are the republican talking heads, the hate radio people, fox news, Glenn Beck, national review etc., who want to fool and use the evangelicals but want to hide what it's really about.

    By the way, proving that he is first a politician and a phony "Christian" second, Pat Robertson endorsed Rudy Giuliani of all people, not Huckabee!

    All I'm saying is that the backbone of the republican party, the white evangelicals from the bible belt that has given them all these electoral victories, ought to be able to choose a man like them, rather than one of these other phonies chosen by the national review, fox news etc.

    December 15, 2007 08:23 am at 8:23 am |
  15. Bill Davis Yorba Linda, California

    Huckabee is not so much Howard Dean as he is Alf Landon in 1936. It would be a slaughter.

    December 15, 2007 08:24 am at 8:24 am |
  16. Randall Huggins, Kinston North Carolina

    LET'S NOT MAKE THIS A RELIGIOUS ISSUE.
    GOV. HUCKABEE IS THE MOST QUALIFIED CANDIATE FROM EITHER PARTY. I BET THE DEMS WISH HE WAS IN THEIR CAMP.
    WE WANT TO DUMP EVERY PROBLEM ON THE PRESIDENT. DO YOU FOLKS KNOW THAT THIS COUNTRY HAS A CONGRESS AND SENATE THAT PASSES AND APPROVES EVERYTHING THE PRESIDENT DOES? WHEN DO WE HOLD THEM ACCOUNTABLE FOR THEIR ACTIONS?
    WHAT HAS THE DEMOCRATIC HOUSE AND SENATE DONE FOR THE COUNTRY SINCE IT RECLAIMED POWER? I AM A REGISTERED DEMOCRAT AND I CAN HARDLY WAIT TO VOTE FOR HUCKABEE. I HAVE BEEN A LIFE LONG DEMOCRAT FOR ALMOST 50 YEARS AND I AM CHANGING MY PARTY AFFILICATION SO I CAN SUPPORT GOV. HUCKABEE.
    LET'S ALL THINK ABOUT THE GOOD OF THE COUNTRY AND LOOK CLOSELY AT THE CANDIATE AND PICK THE BEST ONE AND YOU WILL CHOOSE HUCKABEE.
    I SAY RUN HUCK! RUN! WE WILL BE BEHIND YOU.
    DRH North Carolina

    December 15, 2007 08:27 am at 8:27 am |
  17. Nate Meneer, NY

    If Lowry's is concerned about how candidates would do in the general election, why on earth is he endorsing Romney who has consistantly faired poorly in head-to-head polls?

    December 15, 2007 08:37 am at 8:37 am |
  18. Chris Borghese, Grove City, OH

    Here we go again. The media trying to sway the minds of the voters with who THEY think is the better candidate. Reader's beware, you are being brain washed. This is horrible reporting.

    December 15, 2007 08:38 am at 8:38 am |
  19. dk in South Carolina

    No, not unless the Republicans decide to torpedo him like the establishment Democrats back stabbed Dean.

    December 15, 2007 08:44 am at 8:44 am |
  20. Chris

    I AGREE! Huckabee won't be going anywhere in a general election. Hillary 2008!

    December 15, 2007 08:54 am at 8:54 am |
  21. Thomas, Denver, CO

    Huckabee will ultimately lose because he is inflicted with those disease so common to conservatives – a total lack of sensitivity and foot-in-the-mouth.

    No, I'm not talking political correctness.

    Suggesting "isolating" (his word)anyone infected with HIV, as Huckabee did, goes beyond "political correctness"...it's un-American.

    Then there was his tremendous personal support of a convict, who after being released, went on to murder two women.

    Huckabee's blindness to anyone that doesn't think, believe and pray like him may play well to the evangelical choir...but America is getting tired of the American Taliban trying to tell everyone else what to do.

    So, go ahead, GOP...nominate Huckabee with all his ignorant biases and blatant prejudices.

    He'll be quashed and the world will cheer that America finally got a presidential election right again..when we elect Obama.

    December 15, 2007 08:54 am at 8:54 am |
  22. Al Horta

    What's wrong with a president who has Christian values and believes. If we look back at many of our now famous presidents we will find most had a relationship with God. That is one of the reasons our nation is having so many problems, little by little we are losing the blessing of the Lord because of our secular liberal believes in which we try to govern oursleves without His help. America needs to return back to Godly values and honoring Him. A president who has a relationship with the Almighty is an asset not a debit.

    December 15, 2007 08:57 am at 8:57 am |
  23. Fred, TN

    You need a republican candidate who can bring people together from all walks of life, including but not limited evangelicals. There is only one candidate who can atrract all voters, republicans, democrats and independents. That candidate is Dr. Ron Paul.

    December 15, 2007 08:58 am at 8:58 am |
  24. CW, Greenfield, Indiana

    I think a big part of Huckabee's appeal is that he seems to make sense when he is talking. A lot of voters do not believe that borrowing money while simultaneously cutting taxes is a conservative practice. Balancing budgets and cutting costs, that's conservatism. Huckabee seems like he can think outside the tired old Dole-Bush script that we've all grown so tired of.

    On a different note, is it now impossible to elect someone who isn't a Southerner? There are 50 states, after all.

    December 15, 2007 09:00 am at 9:00 am |
  25. Dan, Frederick MD

    The arrogance of this man Lowry to tell anyone how to vote is astounding!
    There have been plenty of US Presidents who were deemed not presidential material who were great (Truman for example) and many other who were supposed to be great that were horrible.
    Someone tell Lowry to shut his yap!

    December 15, 2007 09:06 am at 9:06 am |
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