Politics from the Palouse to Puget Sound

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

"Conservative’s Dark Horse?"

From Intellectual Conservative:
As my friends and I made our way to the parking lot, we all pretty much agreed that yes, he would make a great President and, what a shame that he didn't have a chance.

I got an invite in the mail recently. 'Pig-Pickin BBQ with special guest Gov. Mike Huckabee, Republican presidential candidate.' Now the name Huckabee rang a few bells but I couldn't quite place him. Republican Governor? Running for president? Hmmm . . .

I asked around and no-one was quite sure who the guy was. Nevertheless, I showed up at Debardeau Plantation in Georgetown County, South Carolina at the appointed time. By asking around I was able to ascertain that Huckabee was the Governor of Arkansas from 1996 to 2007, and yes, he's running for President. OK.

After an average BBQ dinner at an average political event, host Mike Campbell introduced Governor Huckabee. Average looking, down home and folksy. Not at all what you'd expect a politician to be. As he proceeded to speak, I started sitting up straighter and leaning forward.

I didn't hear any 'talking points' or political double speak. No bland phrases meant to cover all sides of an issue. What I heard was straight talk that, by golly, sounded like it came from the heart.

After a cute joke, Gov. Huckabee started outlining his priories. First up was education. A pretty safe bet and one designed to appeal to the greatest numbers of voters. Looking at his website later, I realized that he wasn't just mouthing words. His record in Arkansas displayed an impressive record of education reform. And RESULTS.

Next came a ringing endorsement of the Fair Tax. Hey, this guy is starting to impress me. Especially when he called for an end to the $10 billion IRS industry. You go, guy!

After a while, every phrase he uttered resonated with me. "Over taxation, over regulation, over litigation . . . " Phrases last heard from Ronald Reagan and in complete accordance with this Reagan conservative.

Other issues important to Huckabee included energy independence. And, lo and behold, he actually proposed America use its buying power as leverage to get Saudi Arabia to step up to the plate at the risk of losing all the oil money we send over there. Sounded like a plan to me.

On Iraq, Gov. Huckabee flatly declared surrender is not an option. "As a country, we would lose our credibility and our honor." He didn't equivocate or mince words. He outlined the consequences of premature withdrawal from Iraq and declared them unacceptable. That's good enough for me.

Huckabee ended his speech without any of the usual flourishes. He wasn't staged, he wasn't pandering, he was just himself. Low key, passionate, sincere and straightforward. Very impressive.

As my friends and I made our way to the parking lot, we all pretty much agreed that yes, he would make a great President and, what a shame that he didn't have a chance. Pretty strange . . . our automatic capitulation to the prevailing notion that in order to win the presidency in this day and age, one must necessarily be a staged, pandering, packaged, politico, monied type of guy. Could it be possible that Gov. Huckabee has a chance of being elected President when he has spent all his time governing instead of campaigning?

A check of his website () confirmed and reinforced my first impression. Gov. Huckabee was Governor of Arkansas for 10 1/2 years with a solid list of accomplishments.

He's a former pastor. He's pro-life. He's socially conservative.

He's a strong fiscal conservative with a record to back him up. He cut taxes 90 times as Governor to say nothing of enacting the first major broadbased tax cut in state history. Oh, he also enacted the Taxpayers Bill of Rights.

His welfare reform program cut welfare rolls by almost 50%.

He was re-elected in 1998 with the largest percentage of votes ever received by a Republican gubernatorial candidate in the Democrat state of Arkansas. That's in addition to receiving 49% of the black vote. Remember folks, this is Clinton country and Gov. Huckabee is very much a Conservative.

On top of all that, he had the strength and determination to lose 110 pounds in 2003. He now runs marathons. To me, that indicates strength of character, fortitude, determination and a strong will. Pretty much the traits we need in our next president.

Upon reflection, Gov. Huckabee seems to have all the qualifications conservatives are anxiously looking for and not finding in the current crop of contenders. He stands for all the issues dear to conservatives. He seems to be the whole package. I'm going to keep my eye on him and hope against hope that I'm not disappointed once again. And though I hadn't planned on tuning in to the next Republican debate, I think I've changed my mind. I just want to make sure this guy wasn't a figment of my imagination.
I still say the GOP's only chance next year is to win the South as a whole the way they did in 2000 and 2004. I think a Mike Huckabee candidacy is the only way that is going to happen.

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