February 6th, 2008
04:00 PM ET
13 years ago

Blitzer: Huckabee deserves credit

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i.l.cnn.net/cnn/2008/images/02/06/art.huckabee.tsr.cnn.jpg caption="Mike Huckabee appearing on the The Situation Room Super Tuesday."]
(CNN) - As I suspected, Super Tuesday turned out to be a long night. We went on the air in The Situation Room at 4 p.m. ET, and didn't get off until 2 a.m. ET.

It was a good night for both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. On the Republican side, it was a good night for John McCain and Mike Huckabee. Mitt Romney didn't have such a good night. Super Tuesday did not wrap up the presidential nominations. Now, we get ready for the next contests, beginning this weekend.

I've been thinking about the finalists in this presidential race, and those who didn't reach the finals. A year ago, all of us believed that Hillary Clinton and John McCain would be major presidential contenders. Mitt Romney was always taken very seriously as a candidate. Some thought Barack Obama had a huge future ahead of him, but might not yet be ready for a presidential run. And few gave Mike Huckabee a real shot. Outside of Arkansas, most Americans never heard of him.

But the former Arkansas governor deserves a lot of credit. He has outlasted several much more visible and well-known Republicans, including Rudy Giuliani and Fred Thompson. Other former governors, including Tommy Thompson of Wisconsin (a former Secretary of Health and Human Services) and Jim Gilmore of Virginia, were initially taken more seriously than Huckabee. But he persisted and proved his critics wrong.

He has convinced a lot of people over the year that he is a gifted politician. He certainly didn't have the money or staff of the other major candidates. But he made up for that with a lot of grit and hard work. He was determined.

Years ago, I interviewed him after he lost more than 100 pounds. He had just written a book on his struggle with the early stages of diabetes because of his obesity. He went on a strict diet and began exercising. He documented it all in his book which I read.

You can certainly agree or disagree with his positions on the different domestic, foreign policy and social issues of the day. But you still have to give this politician credit in getting to this final stage of the game.

- CNN Anchor Wolf Blitzer

Filed under: Wolf Blitzer
soundoff (41 Responses)
  1. Vicki

    Why do all the political commentators disregard the fact that Huckabee is the only supporter of the Fair Tax. They all consistently credit his votes to the evangelicals however there is an entire community of Fair Tax supporters who are supporting him all over the country and no one reports on it.

    February 6, 2008 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  2. ani

    If Obama wins I vote for Huckabee or MCCain.

    February 6, 2008 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
  3. Nick

    Most people who actually listen to Huckabee, see his speeches and research him a little bit find that he is the most consistent conservative in the race. I was drawn to him a couple of months ago after seeing some of his speeches on Youtube. As a PBS commentator pointed out: every state where Huckabee spent time campaigning for Super Tuesday, he won. Imagine how much better he would be doing if he had more financial backing! Romney has outspent him at least 20-1 and has had a lackluster performance.

    February 6, 2008 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  4. james nickelberry

    Huckabee lost me when he endorsed the confederate flag! Im a black american disable vietnam combat veteran and I did like Huckabee. Im from Arkansas and understand what that flag means.

    Im supporting Barack Obama. I think he can unite this great nation unlike anyone else. McCain will only divide us along race, war and economics!

    February 6, 2008 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  5. Greg

    Thanks Wolf for your objective reporting. I am a regular viewer of The Situation Room and I think you are doing a great job. In this era where reporters are unethically abandoning all objectivity, you stand out as a true proffessional. Huckabee's is truly a story of a great American. No matter how his campaign ends up, he has really shown that dedication, determination, hard work, sincerity and humor can overcome any odds. He has had an impact in this election and given it a flavor that would have been absent without him and will continue to.

    February 6, 2008 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
  6. chgo7

    I think its sad how the media (Jacobson) say Huckabee 'took' votes away from Romney. What makes them so sure that McCain and Romney aren't "taking votes away from Huckabee"? Thats how I see it. I like Mike.

    February 6, 2008 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
  7. Greg

    Thanks Wolf for your objective reporting. I am a regular viewer of The Situation Room and I think you are doing a great job. In this era where reporters are unethically abandoning all objectivity, you stand out as a true proffessional. Huckabee's is truly a story of a great American. No matter how his campaign ends up, he has really shown that dedication, determination, hard work, sincerity and humor can overcome any odds. He has had an impact in this election and given it a flavor that would have been absent without him and will continue to.

    February 6, 2008 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
  8. David - Oregon City

    Romney and McCain are definitely spoilers for Mike Huckabee demonstrated by their expense per vote received.

    My estimations:
    Romney- $84,644,955 = 4,095,564 Votes @ $21.40 ea.
    McCain – $39,145,649 = 4,820,598 Votes @ $ 8.12 ea.
    Huckabee – $7,107,364 = 2,399,495 Votes @ $ 2.96 ea.


    February 6, 2008 05:30 pm at 5:30 pm |
  9. Brian

    Thank you. Finally someone out there in the news world is giving Mike Huckabee some credit! Sadly it took a "surprise" Super Tuesday effort in order for people to finally wake up to the realization that Mike Huckabee IS a strong candidate. I appreciate your acceptance of the "shock" that came from Tuesdays voters, but I only wish he would have gotten the media coverage as the other candidates who are, as you pointed out, taken more seriously. Maybe now the rest of the U.S. will finally get to hear about this underdog from Arkansas. Thanks again!

    Brian B.

    February 6, 2008 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
  10. Drew

    No doubt He deserves a lot of credit for what he's been able to do in the Presidential race, Thing about Huckabee that makes him stand out above all the other Republicans that are and were in this race is that he doesn't let his critics dictate how he should run his campaign, he's gonna run it the way he sees fit. He definitely has a future in the GOP even if he doesn't get the nomination this time around.

    February 6, 2008 05:32 pm at 5:32 pm |
  11. lynne

    Wolf – You are one of the reasons I have switched from Fox News to CNN. You are willing to give "fair and balanced" treatment to each of the candidates without adding your personal bias and making it sound like fact. You fit under the old "journalist" category. I hardly remember what that is anymore.

    February 6, 2008 05:32 pm at 5:32 pm |
  12. Heather Brewer

    Yes, and it makes you wonder what would've happened if he'd had the money and the large staff like the others had. He has a strong message, contrary to what many believe, that is, people who haven't looked closely enough at his solutions. What strikes me is that he is a politician who actually has a clear understanding of why he stands where he does on all of his policies. He has a philosophy behind his stance. Yes, some of his philosophy is touched by his religious faith, but it is also comprised of a secular morality and a common sense approach to making things work at the people's level. Read his book "From Hope to Higher Ground: My Plan for Restoring America's Greatness." You'll find practical policies and also a guide on what each American can do in his/her own life to address each issue. The plan isn't all about policy. It's also about people. A very novel idea in the current political world, it seems.

    February 6, 2008 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  13. Mark

    Evangelicals, one more thing...Who has said he will not vote for a constitutional amendment on abortion? Who has said he would not vote for a constitutional amendment on same-sex marriage? He's from Arizona. His name is Senator John McCain, and your vote for Huckabee is essentially a vote for John McCain - and you can deny it all you want, but that's the case.

    Huckabee is actually taking his own evangelicals for granted. If Huckabee were really carrying their policies, he would be urging people–McCain has made it plain as day that he's not going to be take the federal steps to secure the culture that the evangelicals demand of the Republican Party. McCain's made it plain. I don't know that the evangelicals know this. I don't know that they're aware of it.

    If Huckabee were genuinely interested in the causes of his constituents, he would be attacking McCain, not Romney. Other than Alabama, Romney and Huckabee have largely divided the evangelical vote - and in that case, Huckabee should be aligning with Romney, not McCain; if these issues are critical to him. But they're not - if they were important to him, he would be attacking the guy that's out there standing in the way of getting these things done, and that is McCain.

    Evangelicals and Huckabee are not interested in true politics, they are only interested in ensuring a Mormon does not get nominated...for professing to be Christian, some Evangelicals sure have a lot of anger and jealousy for a Mormon guy...I don't get it.

    February 6, 2008 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  14. Julia

    Very well put, Wolf. Mike Huckabee, while not the candidate I'll be voting for, has done a lot of things that are noteworthy. As you said, losing 100 pounds in and of itself is an amazing feat, and I think more people should be encouraged by the wonderful qualities this man does have.
    As you said, again, you may not agree with the man's views on the issues (I certainly don't), but he is a likeable person and he should be given an enormous amount of credit for staying in the game as long as he has.

    Always a pleasure reading your blogs, Wolf. You never fail to keep me informed and entertained.

    February 6, 2008 05:49 pm at 5:49 pm |
  15. An Agnostic Democrat

    Actually, I give him more credit than I do another former governor from Arkansas and his wife! And I'm a 49 year old, lifelong Democrat! Go figure! I may not agree with Huckabee's politics but that doesn't matter when you even breath the Clinton name.

    February 6, 2008 06:02 pm at 6:02 pm |
  16. sam

    i think condolezza should run for vp in the mccain ticket

    that's a winner combo

    February 6, 2008 06:22 pm at 6:22 pm |
  17. Kim

    I was a Romney supporter. I have been listeining to all the talking heads bash Mike Huckabee. I thought how in the world can Huckabee be that bad?? I went I checked out his record--folks it is good-I was impressed--I'm voting soon.

    February 6, 2008 06:29 pm at 6:29 pm |
  18. Joanie

    I agree 100% about his dedication and 'push forwardness'. A man with this much desire to keep fighting for what he not only believes ... his personal health and all the other areas...is worth the votes of the American people. He has proven to us all that, in his own life he has the unwavering determination to keep on going when it looks like he shouldn't. I'm proud of him and I think we all should be. He is the example we have been wanting and are looking for in a leader. He has never faltered or tried to play with his intrigity. Of all the candidates...Huckabee is the leader.

    February 6, 2008 06:52 pm at 6:52 pm |
  19. Ben

    Huckabee is the real deal. Just think what he has done in the face of media bias and anti-Christian bigotry like the comment below. In a fair system, he would be the frontrunner. Let's make it that way.

    February 6, 2008 06:53 pm at 6:53 pm |
  20. Rosa

    I am not a Huckabee supporter, however I have a great amount of respect for the man!! I am very happy to see that he is getting some positive press as he and his supporters deserive the credit!!! I am a very strong Christsian and I have not heard anyone in my church or any of my other Christian friends talk ill of Romney due to his religous convictions. I believe, as Christians believe, that we are not here to judge, we are not God. The White House is not a church and the leader of our country does not dictate what we believe in. Due to the reasons I believe that Huckabee and his supporters are not in line with McCain to try and push a Mormon out of the running, I think that this is absurd. I believe that like Romney, Huckabee has a message and thinks that he would be a good president and is trying to the best of his abilities to get the word out.

    February 6, 2008 07:00 pm at 7:00 pm |
  21. Cina

    Yes, agreed! It was a good night for Huckabee and all those from across the nation who have rallied behind him!

    With the vote nearly split down the middle in MIssouri, no one can really say that Missouri chose McCain, and rejected Huckabee. Same goes for South Carolina and Oklahoma. Huckabee still has a whole lot of enthusiastic supporters out there with grit just like their candidate!

    Wherever Mike goes, his message connects with people. Then when they go deeper and check his record as governor, they like him even more. No doubt he's a fiscal conservative who can manage a budget - look what he's been able to accomplish with a campaign budget that doesn't even come close to the spending of the other "top tier" contenders. Quite impressive!

    Thanks, Wolf, for some really good coverage last night. We kept it on CNN and the whole way through.

    February 6, 2008 07:08 pm at 7:08 pm |
  22. Ron Sprague

    One thing you have to agree on, wheather you like or dislike about Mike Huckabee's policies, you don't have to guess what he will be saying next.

    I relate to Mike Huckabee because he is the only one that can relate to the every day citizen Republican, Democrat, or Independent, and the only thing I have been hearing from him is for the good of our country.

    February 6, 2008 07:13 pm at 7:13 pm |
  23. browmaster

    I agree with Mark...

    I don't get all this anger towards Romney... all it is doing is splitting the Republican party... nobody really thinks that Huckabee has a chance its just not realistic.

    I like Romney but then I am from Utah however I didn't vote for him... I knew he would take it... I voted for Obama because I will not vote for McCain he is worse than the Dems....

    Just watch if McCain gets nominated Utah will be a blue state and we will have Democrats back in the Whitehouse...

    Way to go McCain and Huckabee you've split up the Republican party

    You've made millions of "Mormons" mad at you... Don't get me wrong Orrin Hatch made a run for President back in 2000 he's "Mormon" and that didn't matter that he lost... he wasn't the right guy for the job. You've targeted Romney not because he isn't the right man for the job but because he is "Mormon" now thats a real Christian thing to do isn't it!

    Romney is the Right guy (yes a subtle hint not a liberal like McCain) yet the Evangelicals are so angry (I really don't get why) that they would prefer to have Democrats in the whitehouse... and that is exactly what will happen.

    Wake up Huckabee get off your high horse and quite trying to take out the best man for the economy.... High taxes will only drive us to another depression we will not even stop at a recession.

    Let's put a business man in the Whitehouse one that knows how to straighten things out. One that knows how to keep us working and making the money we need to support ourselves, one that will fight for the Traditional Marriage, one that will fight against abortion except for cases where the health of the mother is in jeopardy or cases of rape or Incest... these are core conservative values

    February 6, 2008 07:15 pm at 7:15 pm |
  24. Cary Lacayo

    Credit is well deserved being that he has done it with 20 dollar donations from real people that care enough to see him make it. He hasn't got 5 million as hilary just announced giving towards her campaign. Huckabee is doing it on his merits, his genuine character making him someone you can trust. He conducts himself in manner that is worth every cent not as others have waisted in large amounts of money conducting themselves in an opposite manner. I hope people really take a look into Huckabee and see who and what he is about.....

    February 6, 2008 07:15 pm at 7:15 pm |
  25. Ken

    If Romney had dropped out prior to the SC primary......Huckabee would be in command now.....Romney never had a chance......I mean he has only won three primaries now....The rest were caucus states.

    February 6, 2008 07:21 pm at 7:21 pm |
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