Mike Huckabee

Huckabee: A Repeat Performance in 2012?

After his loss in the Republican Primary, Mike Huckabee blasted various leaders in the Religious Right movement for failing to support his campaign, which was really just a continuation of what he had been doing during his campaign.

Since then, in addition to maintaining his relationships with the various second-tier (and increasingly radical) leaders who did support his candidacy, he had been slowly making in-roads with those who had withheld their support.

The underlying issue that had plagued Huckabee during his campaign was that he was opposed by the economic conservative groups like the Club for Growth, which had soured the Religious Right on his prospects.  For all of the influence that the Religious Right wields within the GOP, the fact remains that it is the support of economic conservatives that can make or break a candidate and without that support, essentially no candidate can win the nomination, no matter how strong they may be on the social issues upon which the Religious Right power-brokers stake their claims. 

With that in mind, it looks like Huckabee, should he decide to run for president again, will find himself in the very same situation this time around:

But authenticity isn’t enough, and he’s also been giving thought, and some effort, to the part that failed him in 2008: political organizing.

“It would have to be far more organized and extensive than last time,” he said. “I would not try to go out and operate without the financial support.”

He’s also been meeting, he said, with some of the evangelical and Republican leaders who rejected him before. “In some of their cases, there’s a very different attitude to me now,” he said.

But some attitudes don’t change. Huckabee met in the spring with Pat Toomey, then the president of the Wall Street-backed Club for Growth, which had attacked him during the 2008 campaign for raising taxes in Arkansas.

“It wasn’t very productive,” he said of the meeting. “I realized then that these guys are just what I thought they were — they’re pay for play, and they do it anonymously on behalf of people who don’t want to be known as the funders of these hit operations. I find that repulsive.”

If Huckabee runs again and can't win over groups like Club for Growth, it will be a real test for the Religious Right: will they back the candidate who most closely shares their views and even brags that while other candidates come to them for support, he comes from them, or will they once again waffle and refuse to support him out of fealty to the economic conservatives and fears that he can't win, leaving Huckabee to settle for the fringe second and third stringers who made up the bulk of his support the last time around? 

Right Wing Leftovers

Marco Rubio: The New Doug Hoffman

It looks like the Right, fresh off its "victory" in backing Doug Hoffman in New York, is now focusing its attention on the Florida Senate primary race between Gov. Charlie Crist and right-wing darling Marco Rubio.

Mike Huckabee endorsed Rubio months ago and he's already received support from the National Review. Now the Club for Growth is getting involved in the race:

The Club for Growth took a major step Thursday toward backing Marco Rubio in Florida’s GOP Senate primary, launching an ad against Gov. Charlie Crist.

The ad criticizes Crist for saying this week that he didn’t, in fact, support President Barack Obama’s stimulus plan.

“Since Charlie Crist helped pass Barack Obama’s spending program, nearly 200,000 Floridians have lost their jobs,” the ad states. “Unemployment is the highest in decades. Personal income’s down. And the deficit in Washington is three times larger.”

The ad is not yet on TV but is slated for an ad buy, a Club spokesman said.

And today, the Family Research Council Action PAC officially endorsed Rubio as well:

Today FRC Action PAC, the political action committee connected to Family Research Council Action, is endorsing Marco Rubio for the U.S. Senate representing Florida. Tony Perkins, President of FRC Action, made the following statement:

"Marco Rubio has been a true friend of the family and the culture of life as a state legislator in Florida. Senators who will fight to defend the family against the radical leadership in the Senate are crucial to the future of our country.

"Rep. Rubio has fought to protect mothers and their unborn children. He supported pro-life legislation that would require doctors to complete ultrasounds before performing abortions thus giving the mother an opportunity to assess the consequences of her actions. Rep. Rubio also understands the importance of adult stem cell research in treating patients. He also endorsed legislation to ensure that taxpayers aren't forced to fund embryonic stem cell research.

"Rep. Rubio knows how taxes and out-of-control government spending burden our families. We believe he will stand up to the White House and Senate leadership as they attempt to saddle our children and grandchildren with an overwhelming mountain of debt.

"Rep. Rubio's many years of advocacy on behalf of pro-family causes will serve him well in the Senate. FRC Action PAC believes that Marco Rubio will be a true advocate for the issues that best uphold and strengthen families. We are proud to support his candidacy," concluded Perkins.

Ralph Reed Is Back In Business

Yesterday we noted that Ralph Reed's Faith and Freedom Coalition has been extremely active in mobilizing conservative voters ahead of Virginia's election and had even gotten Sarah Palin to record a robocall on its behalf.

Today, via the Brody File, we find out that Reed has also gotten Mike Huckabee to do the same:

We told you yesterday that former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin recorded a phone message encouraging Virginians to get out and vote on Tuesday.

Now, we have learned that a conservative group affiliated with former Christian Coalition founder Ralph Reed asked both Palin and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee to make calls to nearly 700,000 voters in Virginia.

The Huckabee calls were made Saturday and the Palin calls were made Sunday and today.

You can hear the Huckabee calls here:

Hello, this is Mike Huckabee and I'm calling to urge you to go to the polls Tuesday and vote for the candidates who reflect your values. Virginia, and America, are at a crossroads. The future of our nation is at stake, and on the issue of taxes and spending, the sanctity of life, and marriage, there are very clear choices.  Be an informed and educated voter and be sure and vote your values this Tuesday.  Thank You. Paid for by the Virginia Faith and Freedom Coalition.

At the Last Minute, Huckabee Suddenly Becomes a Hoffman Booster

Last week we noted that while just about every right-wing leader had endorsed Doug Hoffman's campaign for the House seat in NY-23 over the Republican candidate Dede Scozzafava, Mike Huckabee was one notable exception. Huckabee's refusal to take sides on this issue was not playing well with conservative activists, but now that Scozzafava has dropped out, Huckabee has suddenly become an ardent supporter of Hoffman's campaign:

We commend Dede Scozzafava for stepping aside and in light of her very unselfish announcement, we join the RNC and other Republicans in urging support for Doug Hoffman.

And his HuckPAC has announced that getting Hoffman elected is one of its top priorities:

This Tuesday voters will head to the polls and cast votes for three very important candidates: Bob McDonnell (candidate for Virginia Governor) and David Harmer and Doug Hoffman candidates for Congress in California and New York. We need to help get each of these fine men elected.

We are past the point where a donation to their campaign will matter that much, what we need now is to reach as many voters as possible within the next 36 hours and let them know Americans are focused on helping elect elect Bob McDonnell, David Harmer and Doug Hoffman.

Today I am emailing to ask if you will take a moment now to make phone calls to voters. We have set up phone banks for Bob McDonnell and David Harmer and you can begin calling voters immediately. Tomorrow we will launch a phone bank for Doug Hoffman. Even if you can only make a call or two, you will help make a positive difference in the final hours before votes are cast on Tuesday.

Also, if you know friends or family who will have a chance to vote on Tuesday for one of these candidates please make sure they do. Huck PAC volunteers have already made over 20,000 calls in Virginia and helped Bob immensely. I know if we make these final calls we can do more of the same.

Wow, what a bold, principled stance for Huckabee to take, throwing his support behind Hoffman just two days before the election ... and only after his Republican challenger has dropped out. 

Huckabee seems to be have been inspired by James Dobson and is now mirroring his feckless policy of making face-saving, self-serving, last-minute political endorsements.

NY-23: A Test of Huckabee's Conservatism?

Yesterday we noted that Doug Hoffman's campaign for the House seat in NY-23 had been endorsed by a veritable who's who of right-wing leaders and organizations.  In fact, endorsing Hoffman has become something of a test of one's conservative bona fides and so it was interesting that one name that was conspicuously absent from Hoffman's list of supporters was Mike Huckabee, and is appears as if Huckabee's refusal to endorse Hoffman is not going unnoticed by those on the right

“It’s very disappointing,” said Tom McClusky, vice president for government affairs at the Family Research Council. “You have names out there like Sarah Palin, Fred Thompson and Tim Pawlenty who are willing to take a stand. You’d think that would have pushed him to make a decision.”

“It concerns me. I think he should endorse. I think Doug Hoffman is his kind of candidate,” said Mike Mears, executive director of Concerned Women for America’s political action committee.

“I keep hoping that he is going to do it,” he said. “Conservatives are lining up behind Doug Hoffman.”

...

“When you’re a leader of the conservative movement, as Mike Huckabee is, you should make a bold statement,” said Mike Long, president of the New York State Conservative Party. “If you’re a leader, how do you not get involved?”

“If you want to show leadership, you’ve got to break away from the club,” Long added.

Politico speculates that Huckabee's reluctance to endorse Hoffman might be rooted in some sort of animosity he still holds toward Fred Thompson or the Club for Growth, both of whom have endorsed Hoffman, though that seems like a ridiculously unlikely reason for Huckabee to sit out this race to me.  But it does provide an opportunity for the Thompson, Club for Growth, and Huckabee teams to renew their rivalry and take pot-shots at one another: 

Both the Thompson camp and the Club for Growth gave evidence of those tensions by taking shots at Huckabee for his nonendorsement. 

“We’re very disappointed that Gov. Huckabee saw fit to come into the district for a Conservative Party event and then didn’t support or contribute to Hoffman,” said a source close to Thompson.

“He’s only hurting himself with his silence,” said Club for Growth Executive Director David Keating, who noted archly that “some people might conclude he supports Scozzafava.”

Sarah Huckabee dismissed the idea that Mike Huckabee had decided to stay out of the race because of any lingering tensions with Thompson or the Club for Growth, noting that he had thrown his early backing to Club for Growth favorite Marco Rubio in the hotly contested Florida GOP Senate primary.

“It’s absurd to say he doesn’t take sides,” Sarah Huckabee wrote in an e-mail. “He has taken a stand time after time for conservative issues. Where were all the conservatives when he was saying TARP was a bad idea?”

Staver Seeks To Moderate the Right's Stance on Immigration Reform

Last week I wrote a post based on Dan Gilgoff's article about efforts by Mat Staver and Samuel Rodriguez to moderate the Religious Right's position on immigration reform, noting that both were members of the Freedom Federation, which contains groups like the Eagle Forum who have been vehemently opposed to such reform in the past.

Now, Gilgoff has followed-up on this topic and appears as if Staver truly intends to try and get the Freedom Federation and its members to change their position on this issue:

"There was this rhetoric in the last immigration debate that was, frankly, harsh," says Mathew Staver, dean of the law school at Liberty University, founded by the late Jerry Falwell. "We need to understand that we are still a nation of immigrants, and we need to bring people out of the shadows and make them legal."

Staver, who is leading the effort to bring conservative evangelicals and other religious conservatives on board for comprehensive immigration reform, says he's motivated by biblical principles regarding the treatment of foreigners and by a desire to build bridges between the "pro-family" movement and growing ethnic constituencies. But the campaign may wind up dividing religious conservatives, some of whom helped lead the charge against George W. Bush's failed attempt at comprehensive immigration reform in 2007.

...

Now, Staver is trying to build support among Freedom Federation members for comprehensive immigration reform. Part of his goal is to bring Hispanics into the conservative Christian political fold. "The future of the conservative movement is at stake in the debate about immigration reform," says the Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, who has been helping Staver lobby conservative evangelical leaders on immigration.

At a recent coalition meeting in Washington, Staver had former GOP presidential candidate Mike Huckabee discuss his immigration views, which have been criticized as soft by many conservatives, with dozens of representatives from religious conservative groups. "Huckabee was attacked in the presidential race because he didn't want to remove educational benefits for the children of illegal immigrants," Staver says. "But that's a biblical concept—you don't punish the child for what his parents did."

And it looks like Staver has his work cut out for him, as the Eagle Forum says it's not budging while other members are still making up their minds:

"Many of our members oppose comprehensive amnesty because of their faith," says Colleeen Holmes, executive director of Eagle Forum, the conservative group founded by Phyllis Schlafly. "But this is really about conservatism versus liberalism, and conservatism says you need rule of law." The Eagle Forum opposes a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants ... Some Freedom Federation members, however—like Eagle Forum—remain strongly opposed to comprehensive immigration reform. Others, like Family Research Council Action, are still determining their position.

Considering that many members of the Freedom Federation have openly opposed efforts at immigration reform in the past, Staver's effort to push this issue could end up causing a rift in the movement that, ironically, the Freedom Federation was created in order to heal.

Huckabee: Who Needs FEMA When We Have The Salvation Army?

Last night, Mike Huckabee spoke at the Salvation Army's Annual Appreciation Dinner and, before his address, told the press that he's like to do away with the federal government's emergency response system in favor of relying of charitable foundations and donations because that would provide "hugs" and "spiritual support" to those impacted by national disasters: 

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee used his address at Salvation Army's annual dinner in Jackson last night to criticize the role of government in assisting in emergencies such as Hurricane Katrina. "Frankly, I'd rather see the kind of help that people need come through a relief agency than necessarily just come in a check in the mailbox from the government," Huckabee told reporters before the dinner.

"Because behind every bit of help that the Salvation Army gives is not just sterile, cold and indifferent," Huckabee said. "It is also being delivered by somebody who has a heart filled with love and who wants to share more than just the basic human needs, but also the emotional support and the spiritual support. It's one thing to just give a person a sandwich, but sometimes a sandwich plus a hug means a whole lot more and makes the sandwich taste better."

Huckabee Still Leading The 2012 Pack

As always, you can't read much into polls conducted more than three years before the next election, but since Mike Huckabee keeps coming out on top of polls asking Republicans to choose their favorite 2012 candidates, we are going to keep posting them:

Twenty-nine percent (29%) of Republican voters nationwide say former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee is their pick to represent the GOP in the 2012 Presidential campaign. The latest Rasmussen Reports telephone survey finds that 24% prefer former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney while 18% would cast their vote for former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin.

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich gets 14% of the vote while Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty gets 4%. Six percent (6%) of GOP voters prefer some other candidate while 7% remain undecided.

These numbers reflect an improvement for Huckabee since July when the three candidates were virtually even. Huckabee’s gain appears to be Palin’s loss as Romney’s support has barely changed.

In head-to-head match-ups, Huckabee beats Romney by 5 points and Palin by a whopping 20 points.

Huckabee continues to insist that he had not yet made up his mind if he'll seek the nomination in 2012, but since just about every poll conducted has him either leading or among the leaders, it's hard to imagine that he'd pass by this opportunity.

But while he makes up his mind, you can rest assured that we will continue to monitor his ties to the most radical fringes of the right-wing movement.

Right Wing Round-Up

  • Media Matters: Fox trumpets CAIR conspiracy theory charges made by author with anti-Islam history.
  • TPM: RNC Web Site Pays Tribute To Ronaldus Magnus. (See also "Meet The Writer Steele Used To Buff Party's Image.)
  • Steve Benen: Shadegg's "Soviet-Style" Stupidity.
  • Why does every endorsement in which Mike Huckabee is involved seem to carry a massive price tag?
  • Orly Taitz is not happy with the $20,000 fine she is facing.
  • SF Appeal: Stand For Marriage Maine complains that the opposition to the marriage ban now on the ballot in Maine comes from "mostly from the gay activist political elite from all corners of the nation, including Hollywood, Colorado, New York, Massachusetts" but the group displays a different attitude when it comes to sending its money out of state.

Huckabee: The Left Must Justify Obama's Nobel Peace Prize

Mike Huckabee releases a statement on the Nobel Committee to award the 2009 Peace Prize to President Obama:

There will be an outcry from those on the right who will say that Obama's nomination, made two weeks into his Presidency, is impossible to justify but I think such an outcry will sound like right-wing whining. The better response is simply to allow those on the left to explain what he did in his first two weeks as President that merited such recognition.

Umm ... why exactly is it the responsibility of "the left to explain" why he was awarded this prize?

Wouldn't it make more sense to let the, you know, Nobel Prize Committee explain its own decision?

The Norwegian Nobel Committee has decided that the Nobel Peace Prize for 2009 is to be awarded to President Barack Obama for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples. The Committee has attached special importance to Obama's vision of and work for a world without nuclear weapons.

Obama has as President created a new climate in international politics. Multilateral diplomacy has regained a central position, with emphasis on the role that the United Nations and other international institutions can play. Dialogue and negotiations are preferred as instruments for resolving even the most difficult international conflicts. The vision of a world free from nuclear arms has powerfully stimulated disarmament and arms control negotiations. Thanks to Obama's initiative, the USA is now playing a more constructive role in meeting the great climatic challenges the world is confronting. Democracy and human rights are to be strengthened.

Only very rarely has a person to the same extent as Obama captured the world's attention and given its people hope for a better future. His diplomacy is founded in the concept that those who are to lead the world must do so on the basis of values and attitudes that are shared by the majority of the world's population.

For 108 years, the Norwegian Nobel Committee has sought to stimulate precisely that international policy and those attitudes for which Obama is now the world's leading spokesman. The Committee endorses Obama's appeal that "Now is the time for all of us to take our share of responsibility for a global response to global challenges."

Right Wing Leftovers

  • Joseph Farah is not happy with Rep. Michele Bachmann's refusal to join in with the Birthers.
  • Mike Huckabee will be headlining the Viriginia Family Foundation's Annual Gala later this month.
  • The Apostolic and Prophetic Conference, featuring Rod Parsley and others, is currently underway in Miami, Florida.
  • Will the Right really sue over the passage of hate crimes legislation, as FRC suggests?
  • Speaking of FRC, its Virginia Values Voter PAC released its first ad against Creigh Deeds.

Freedom Federation Welcomes Huckabee

We've written several posts about the new right-wing supergroup known as the Freedom Federation over the last few months.  Consisting of various right wing groups including the Family Research Council, Concerned Women for America, Eagle Forum, the American Family Association, Traditional Values Coalition, Wallbuilders, Vision America, and many others, the group's mission is to create a unified political front for the Religious Right.

Today, Deacon Keith Fournier writes in Catholic Online that he was recently invited to attend a meeting of the Freedom Federation's steering committee but was reluctant to go ... until he found out that they were going to have a special guest speaker - Mike Huckabee:

I have made some inspiring new friendships with champions such as Rev. Sam Rodriquez and Bishop Harry Jackson. And, it is a joy after several years to renew old ones with my friends Ken Blackwell and Matt Staver. However, the drive to Washington D.C., even with good “beltway traffic” is at least four hours for me since I moved back to Chesapeake, Virginia. I am “swamped” these days, on every front of my life. So, let me be honest. I accepted the invitation because a special guest had promised to drop by and share his thoughts. That special guest is one of my favorite public servants, the former Governor of Arkansas and former Presidential candidate, Mike Huckabee.

I have long admired this genuinely good man. I had the privilege of interviewing him for Catholic Online during the last Presidential campaign. We have published those interviews as related stories under this article. When he entered the meeting, filled with dedicated people (mostly evangelical protestant leaders, though this time I was not the only Catholic) who themselves possess leadership gifts, he filled the room with his presence. Real leaders have a presence about them which just fills the room. His warm smile and attention to every person he greeted was impressive. His warmth toward me made the long drive worthwhile. However, it was his insights, shared over the course of a long and dynamic meeting which convinced me that this is a man who has not even begun to give his gifts to the service of his Nation.

I sat next to the Governor and, I must admit, I invited some of his responses through my own questions and observations. I could say he “had me” when he called my champion, the late Servant of God John Paul II, “one of the great spiritual and Christian leaders of our lifetime” and shared anecdotal stories from the late Pope’s life. However, there was much more to come in the rich content of his intelligent public policy positions. It was the substance of those deeply held positions on the issues which matter most which won the day and only deepened my admiration for the man. He breaks the molds of the empty political labels of “left/right”, “liberal/conservative.” He espouses truly human, just and concerned positions. I will be returning to them, I am sure, in future articles. However, permit me to share just one of his comments.

In the context of discussing the fundamental human rights issue of our age, the right to life from conception, to birth, throughout life and up to and including a natural death - what I call the “whole life/pro-life” position, which the Governor clearly embraces - he said these words: “To say that one person has value, but another does not, that one has human dignity but another does not, or somehow has less… that is the kind of thinking that slavery was built upon, and worse… . The dignity of every human person and the value of every human life must be the pole star of all public policy.” These words are not a slogan, they are a creed to the Governor, a deeply help vision of life and worldview. They flowed from the heart of a man who cares deeply about this nation and about our future together.

Many of the leaders of the Freedom Federation's member organizations backed Huckabee's presidential bid back in 2008, but many others did not, for which Huckabee regularly and roundly blasted them as sell-outs.  Since then, he has been hard at work positioning himself as the Religious Right's most ardent defender and the effort has recently begun paying dividends.

Huckabee continues to insist that he has not decided on whether he will make another run for president in 2012 ... but he certainly seems to be working hard to win over and unify the Religious Right behind him in case he decides to do so. 

Right Wing Round-Up

President Algonquin J. Calhoun?

Did anyone on Mike Huckabee's webteam bother to actually read this article which they are promoting on Huckabee's website?

Tom Roeser has an excellent observer in the Chicago Daily Observer about Governor Huckabee. The article, titled "Thought While Shaving: It Just May Be Huckabee's Time" focuses on the Governor's appearance before the Illinois Family Institute. Mr. Roeser says "I must say that the performance delivered by Mike Huckabee at the Illinois Family Institute was unrivaled." Mr. Roeser goes on to say "In summary, I think it's becoming Mike Huckabee's time."

Roeser does indeed say that it might be Huckabee's time ... and does so while comparing President Obama to a character from Amos 'n Andy:

In 2008 it seemed to many that Obama was the embodiment of sweet reason on race: a highly cultured Sidney Poitier type who starred in "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner"-the 1967 soft-liberal rendition that showed us a black physician who was every bit as sophisticated as the upper-class family played by Spencer Tracy and Katherine Hepburn. But to many Obama has emerged as a dangerously unskilled president... maimed by his soft-hidden but nevertheless demonstrable black radicalism... to show himself as an immature, consummate narcissist really uneducated-and for all his suavity--a boob. He's wearing very thin.

He's even wearing thin with the Left: Howard Fineman of Newsweek and George Herbert of The New York Times editorial page... not to mention Frank Rich of the NYT. In short he's beginning to be lampooned on Saturday Night Live as an unskilled orator who substitutes speech-ifying for strategy. With his speeches, he is coming very close to the caricature of Algonquin J. Calhoun, the fast-talking lawyer on radio and TV's old Amos `n Andy... someone who can stretch definitions beyond the breaking point. Lawyer Calhoun was an egotist too... remember, people who are old enough?... who believed he could spin words faster than listeners could compute.

For those who are not "old enough" to remember, here's a refresher:

Johnny Lee is best known as the shyster lawyer Algonquin J. Calhoun in the Amos 'N' Andy TV Series. In some of the 1948-49 radio episodes where the Calhoun character is introduced, he is referred to as "Five Percent Calhoun" because his fee was 5% of whatever he got for his clients. Calhoun was often enlisted by The Kingfish to get him out of legal trouble or to help Kingfish rip Andy off with one of his investment schemes ... This portrayal of a "coon lawyer" was perhaps one of the most offensive to middle class African Americans. The NAACP complained bitterly about the portrayal of "Negro lawyers ... as slippery cowards, ignorant of their profession and without ethics."

Right Wing Leftovers

  • LifeNews: The man who allegedly shot and killed pro-life advocate James Pouillon and a local businessman last month has been declared mentally incompetent to stand trial.
  • AP:  Louisiana Democrats have accused GOP Sen. David Vitter of accepting campaign money illegally funneled to him by a former Mississippi congressman through a political action committee of that state's governor.
  • I have no idea how the Catholic League has managed to release a statement about David Letterman that is really an attack on Penn and Teller.
  • It looks like Mike Huckabee has his own crazy right-wing conspiracy theorist to deal with.
  • Finally, speaking of Huckabee, here's a photo of him hanging out with Lynyrd Skynyrd.

Right Wing Round-Up

  • David Weigel: National Organization for Marriage Chairman Takes On Kevin Jennings.
  • The New Republic: The never-ending lunacy of Betsy McCaughey.
  • Why do right-wingers hate America?
  • Texas Freedom Network: Could the Republican Party of Texas move even farther to the extreme right? Apparently, yes.
  • Why is Stand For Marriage Maine linking marriage equality to an increase in AIDS infections?
  • Why is Mike Huckabee using his position with Fox News to bolster his PAC?

Conference Recap: Far Right Leaders Vow to 'Take Back America' from 'Evil' Obama and Democrats

The How To Take Back America conference held in St. Louis September 25 and 26 drew some 600 activists and, according to organizers, 100,000 online viewers. The gathering was an expanded version of the annual conference held by Phyllis Schlafly’s Eagle Forum, co-hosted this year by radio personality and far-right activist Janet Folger Porter and promoted by other right-wing bloggers and radio shows.

Conference leaders and participants were both fearful and optimistic: fearful that if the Obama administration gets its way, freedom in America will give way to servitude to a tyrannical socialist government; and optimistic that Americans are angry enough to resist that tyranny and will sweep Democrats out of power in House elections in 2010.

Joining conference participants and echoing the themes were presidential candidate Mike Huckabee and several Republican Members of Congress, including Michele Bachmann (MN), Trent Franks (AZ), Steve King (IA), and Tom McClintock (CA).

Among the themes of the conference:

  • a continued merging of messaging and organizing among the Religious Right and “teabagger” right
  • the fervent belief that America is at a tipping point between freedom and fascist power: President Obama and his congressional allies are on the verge of delivering America into Socialism, Communism, and/or Nazi-style tyranny, and that government is therefore to be feared and resisted
  • optimism that the tea bag movement and anti-health-reform town halls are a sign that Americans are prepared to resist that tyranny
  • extreme opposition to Democratic health care reform efforts, with some support for the congressional Republican alternative and some demands for a no-compromise approach that would involve ending all government involvement in health care, including Medicare
  • recent attacks on ACORN are just part of a larger effort to target progressive community organizing groups and their religious supporters and “defund the left”
  • hostility not only to same-sex marriage but also to any legal protections for LGBT Americans and same-sex couples
  • a new push to use “abortion as black genocide” as a wedge between African Americans and pro-choice progressives built around a new “documentary” portraying abortion as 21st century genocide
  • American exceptionalism – the belief that America’s founding was divinely inspired and the nation has been uniquely blessed by God – is alive and well, though America is now living under a curse for having elected Barack Obama
  • activists don’t need a majority to take back America; if their minority or “remnant” is committed enough God will use them
  • the apparent passing (or grabbing) of the torch from Phyllis Schlafly to Janet Folger Porter

The most widely read book among these activists may not be Mark Levin’s Liberty and Tyranny or Glenn Beck’s Common Sense but Saul Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals, which was invoked repeatedly by speakers and participants.

A Coalescing of Right-Wing Themes

The wide range of issues covered by workshops indicated the ongoing merging of Religious Right and far-right anti-government rhetoric that has been a hallmark of anti-Obama organizing. In this, you could say that Phyllis Schlafly has been ahead of her time: for decades she has combined Religious Right opposition to abortion, feminism, reproductive choice, and gay rights with concerns about a far-ranging list of threats to the American way of life, including federal judges, international treaties, the United Nations, and supposed secret plans to merge the U.S. with Mexico and Canada in a North American Union.  

Former and probably future presidential candidate Mike Huckabee won a cheering standing ovation from this crowd when he adopted its anti-UN stance, demanding that the organization leave the U.S. and not get one more dime in American funding. Huckabee complained about giving a platform to “murderous thugs” and said, “Enough! It’s time to get a jackhammer and to simply chip that part of New York City and let it float into the East River never to be seen again.” Huckabee managed to combine a couple of the far right’s favorite targets by declaring that the UN “has become the international equivalent of ACORN and it’s time to say enough.” (This from the man who said minutes earlier that the conservative movement was at its best when it was built on a strong intellectual grounding.)

Ferocious hostility toward the Obama administration is a unifying force in bringing together social and religious conservatives, a trend also evident at the Values Voter Summit in Washington, D.C. the week before. At How To Take Back America, for example, a session on health care reform focused less on the threat of publicly funded abortion and more on the “fascist” government “takeover” of the economy as a “power grab” by the president. The proposed “cap and trade” energy legislation was described as an effort to tax and control every American’s energy usage. 

President Obama: ‘He’s just evil.’

The depth of hostility toward President Obama -- described by a representative of the American Family Association as “a scary, scary individual” -- cannot be overstated. Rep. Trent Franks called Obama “an enemy of humanity” who “has no place in any station of government.” Another speaker, anti-gay activist Matt Barber, strung together as many insults as he could in describing the president as “a secular humanist, a radical socialist moral relativist.” 

Obama’s push for health care reform is not about health care, said Rep. Tom Price, it’s about power. A representative from Oregon Right to Life said “it’s not about health care, it’s about subjugation and control…He is a statist. He believes in control by government and its dear leaders, fascism by any other name.”  During a session on how feminism is destroying society, a questioner asked if President Obama’s push for women to go back to college was a precursor to women being forced into hard labor like they were in Russia. 

In fact many speakers and participants suggested parallels between the Obama administration’s actions and the rise to power of the Nazis. (One favored technique is to list a set of policy actions that sound like Democratic proposals and then spring the surprise that they were all actions taken by Hitler.) 

Similar hostility was directed toward Democratic congressional leaders. Speaker after speaker accused the president and his allies of pursuing a Marxist agenda, and one dubbed Obama, Nancy Pelosi, and Harry Reid the “new axis of evil.”

Several people suggested that armed resistance to tyrannical government may be needed. A speaker who drew parallels between America today and her experiences growing up under Nazis and Communists urged activists to buy more guns and ammunition; someone suggested that “the Second Amendment” would be the answer to threats by state governments to impose forced vaccination and quarantines during a flu pandemic.

Stopping Health Care Reform

Blocking Democratic health care reform proposals (Rep. Price called House Democrats’ HR 3200 a “monstrosity”) was among the hottest topics at the conference. As noted above, rhetoric focused on the issue less as a policy disagreement and more as a last-ditch battle against a power-hungry president to preserve freedom in America. One speaker said dramatically that if this “diabolical change” were not defeated, government of the people, by the people, and for the people would perish from the face of the earth.

Among the most extreme anti-Obama and anti-government speakers were three doctors who led a workshop session on “How to Stop Socialism in Health Care,” which moderator Andy Schlafly called “the most important issue we’re facing.” 

Lawrence Huntoon, representing the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (which bills itself as a conservative alternative to the AMA), argued that any governmental “interference” in the practice of health care is unconstitutional, and that the Obama administration is really only interested in power. “Just like the fraud and deception of socialism itself,” he said, proposals for reform have more to do with government gaining control over the lives of individuals than of health care. 

The second speaker, Dr. Frank Rosenbloom of Oregon Right to Life, lashed out at President Obama’s policies and at suggestions that opposition to his administration reflected racism. Obama, he said, is a supporter of Planned Parenthood and therefore responsible for genocide against black children. “Liberals are the true racists in this society,” he proclaimed. But he was just warming up.  Rosenbloom compared Obama to Adolf Hitler, saying “fascism is happening here and now.” Recalling President Obama’s statement that if his daughter mistakenly became pregnant, he would not want her to be punished with a baby, Rosenbloom said that is the sort of “moral sewage that is running our country.”

Rosenbloom, who said Obama is “not stupid,” but “just evil,” rejected Rep. Price’s plug for HR 3400, a Republican alternative bill, demanding that government get out of health care completely. He called for an end to Medicare and Medicaid, saying that people could be provided for through tax subsidies for buying insurance. 

A third speaker,Dr. Allen Unruh, said “we either live in freedom or in servitude, there is no middle ground.”  Unruh said Obama health care plans would result in dismantling the 1st, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 9th, 10th, and 13th amendments and said it would turn all doctors into “slaves of the state” and result in "slavery reenacted by our first black president."

Abortion: No Compromise, New Wedges

While anti-Obama and anti-government fervor felt like the energizing force of the conference, the intensity of opposition to legalized abortion was also undiminished. 

Arizona Rep. Trent Franks, citing Obama’s pro-choice policies, called him an “enemy of humanity:”

Obama’s first act as president of any consequence, in the middle of a financial meltdown, was to send taxpayers’ money oversees to pay for the killing of unborn children in other countries…there’s almost nothing that you should be surprised at after that….we shouldn’t be shocked that he does all these other insane things….A president that has lost his way that badly, that has no ability to see the image of God in these little fellow human beings, if he can’t do that right, then he has no place in any station of government and we need to realize that he is an enemy of humanity.

Huckabee also called for “no compromise” on the issue:

That’s why the position that I believe that we must uncompromisingly hold toward the sanctity of human life is an absolute and cannot be negotiated and cannot be given away. And I will never support anyone for public office who does not believe that we should protect every single human life. It’s better to lose elections than to lose our culture and to lose civilization.

Huckabee added that he didn’t believe an uncompromising anti-choice stance would lead to lost elections, saying he was encouraged that younger women are more anti-choice than their mothers and grandmothers.

Anti-choice activists are mounting a renewed effort to use abortion as a wedge issue, portraying legaliized abortion as “black genocide” and promoting Maafa 21, a new “documentary” meant to help stir anti-abortion sentiment in African American churches. Janet Porter told of attending a showing of the movie in Arizona, after which a speaker urged people to confess if they had voted for pro-choice candidates like President Obama. An African American woman, Porter says, rose and prayed, “Forgive me Lord, for putting race over you.”

Along the same lines, Rep. Franks touted his “Susan B. Anthony – Frederick Douglass Pre-Natal Non Discrimination Act,” which would ban abortions carried out on the basis of race or sex. He bragged that the bill would put members of the Congressional Black Caucus and other liberals in a box, because they don’t want to support discrimination, but that if they do vote for the bill, they will be acknowledging that “there’s a person involved.” 

Freedom with an Asterisk

An overriding theme of conference speakers was that the nation is poised on losing its freedom. Rep. Tom Price said that in Washington “we see a crowd in charge that is not too fond of freedom.” 

Of course, freedom to these conference-goers does not extend to LGBT Americans who want to live their lives free from discrimination or serve the nation in the armed forces. Several workshops focused on the dire threat to children and communities posed by the prospect (and reality) of gay couples getting married. And for this crowd, stopping marriage equality is not enough: they are out to prevent civil unions and domestic partnerships as well. They believe the Employment Anti-Discrimination Act is a grave threat to religious liberty. They believe that allowing gays to serve openly in the military would threaten national security. And please don’t get them started on transgender people.

Gay rights advocates, like Obama, were described by Liberty Counsel’s Matt Barber as bullies who get their way with propaganda and “goose-stepping” intimidation of those who oppose equality.

Attacking Progressives

Conference participants were downright gleeful about the troubles facing ACORN, which they claim has been routinely engaged in voter fraud. They were warned, however, that congressional action to deny funding to ACORN is only a first step in attacking funding for organizations affiliated with ACORN and more broadly, groups doing community organizing in poor communities like the Industrial Areas Foundation.

A group of participants from Wisconsin, for example, distributed materials attacking the state’s Catholic bishops for supporting social justice-oriented religious coalitions like Common Ground, which they argue has a “Radical Left Agenda” -- which in their mind includes things like government support for day care. 

In her address, Rep. Michele Bachman said liberalism is repulsive to the American people and called for a renewed effort to “defund the left,” something she criticized Republicans for failing to do when they were in power. “Defunding the left is going to be so easy and it’s going to solve so many of our problems,” she said.

Franks touted his “pre-natal discrimination” bill as a way to “completely defund Planned Parenthood,” which is high on the Right’s agenda.

Taking Back Congress in 2010

Many speakers shared Phyllis Schlafly’s optimism that the anti-Obama, anti-government anger evident in the health care town halls, the tea bag parties, and the conference itself is spreading like wildfire and will make it possible for the Republicans to reclaim the House of Representatives in 2010 and bring a screeching halt to the Obama administration’s plans to drive America into socialist subservience.

Porter announced plans for a rally at the Lincoln Memorial on May 1, 2010, and she’s already got several members of Congress, including Reps. Franks and King signed up. Porter claimed that the event was not about impressing the media or Washington elite, but about touching the heart of God with a show of national repentance for having elected such wicked leaders. She said attendees would be able to give God a sign of their readiness to turn from their wicked ways by putting money into barrels that would be given to the opponents of targeted Democratic congressional leaders.

Passing the Torch

The entire conference had the feel of a generational passing of the leadership torch from Phyllis Schlafly to Janet Folger Porter. Photographic tributes to Schlafly’s life were capped with a long “surprise” recounting of her career by Porter during the final evening program. Porter presented Schlafly with the “American Hero of the Century” Award. For her part, Schlafly praised Porter repeatedly throughout the weekend, saying, “there aren’t extravagances enough to praise Janet for the role she’s played in taking back America and rebuilding the conservative movement.”

Although they don’t agree about everything (Porter argued that Mike Huckabee was God’s chosen candidate in 2008, while Schlafly disparaged his conservative credentials), Porter is in many ways a perfect successor to Schlafly. She shares many of her characteristics, including a no-compromise approach to politics, a strategy of promoting the most extreme and fantastical claims about opponents’ aims and goals, seemingly limitless energy for the fight, and a talent for self-promotion.

Porter has a documented record of promoting even the wildest right-wing conspiracy theories, including “birtherism” and claims that the Obama administration is planning to round up conservatives into internment camps and exterminate millions of Americans through a flu vaccine plot. None of that apparently can diminish her shine in the eyes of the public officials hoping to gain or keep her favor. Both Rep. Franks and Mike Huckabee credited Porter for getting them to the conference. Huckabee went a little further, saying there are two Janets he answers to, his wife and Porter. Porter co-chaired the Faith and Values committee of Huckabee’s presidential campaign. So if Porter does indeed become the new leader of Schlafly’s loyal followers, that’s good news for Huckabee’s future political ambitions.

Janet Porter Introduces God's Choice: Mike Huckabee

Janet Porter introduces Mike Huckabee at the How To Take Back America Conference:

Rick Scarborough Preaches to the Choir at the How To Take Back America Conference

For weeks we have been covering the run-up to the How To Take Back America Conference, writing about the fringe Religious Right activists who are hosting it and the Republican leaders like Mike Huckabee and Michele Bachmann who will be addressing it, asking just how radical one has to be before they find themselves shunned by the GOP.

Earlier this week, we released a report on the organizers and participants which chronicled the various right-wing conspiracy theories and inflammatory rhetoric they have spewed over the years and, given that their long records of firey fringe activism are well-known, nobody can feign surprise when these activists got up to the podium and spewed those same rabidly fringe views at the conference.

Case in point: Rick Scarborugh of Vision America.

Scarborough, who served on Mike Huckabee's Faith and Values Committee during the latter's presidential campaign, unleashed a fiery sermon more befitting a Sunday sermon than a political gathering. But since the two are essentially one in the same for Scarborough and the other participants, his proclamations that he is neither a Republican nor a Democrat but rather a "Christocrat" who will support only candidates who proudly stand up on the campaign trail and say "yes, there's a God" and who realizes that the Constitution is a godly document designed to guide this nation by Christian principles, just as the Bible is designed to guide the lives of all of mankind. He then rails against Republican failures to defund the Department of Education and Planned Parenthood before turning his attention to President Obama and "his minions" who are intent on giving civil rights to "sodomites" while banning the Bible and putting Christians in jail. Eventually he turns to the "shadow government" constructed by President Obama filled with "well-financed, well-heeled, and highly-staffed professional infidels who have dedicated their life" to destroying America.

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Mike Huckabee Posts Archive

Kyle Mantyla, Friday 11/18/2011, 1:59pm
For the last few years, there has been a deepening rift between some Religious Right leaders and the organizers of the annual CPAC conference over what the Religious Right saw as a growing embrace of libertarianism over social conservative values at the event. For instance, various groups have been boycotting past conferences due to the participation of the gay conservative group GOProud while Mike Huckabee has not attended in several years on the grounds that the conference had become, as Politico put it, "outdated, nearly corrupt and unrepresentative of the conservative movement.... MORE >
Brian Tashman, Wednesday 11/09/2011, 2:05pm
When Gary Glenn, the head of American Family Association’s Michigan affiliate, announced his run for U.S. Senate, Kyle wondered “how long it will be before Glenn receives Mike Huckabee's endorsement given that Huckabee believes that ‘if we had leaders like Gary Glenn across America, our work wouldn't be so hard.’” Well, today Huckabee made it official, endorsing Glenn and saying he “will be a Senator that will take his values with him to Washington”: I am very happy to endorse and support Gary Glenn for the United States Senate in Michigan. Gary is a... MORE >
Kyle Mantyla, Monday 10/24/2011, 10:04am
Shortly after Rick Perry's prayer rally earlier this year, organizers of that event started promoting a Religious Right voter mobilization effort called "Champion The Vote," which seeks to "mobilize 5 million unregistered conservative Christians to register and vote according to the Biblical worldview in 2012." It turned out that the Champion The Vote effort was a project of organization called United In Purpose, which is being funded by conservative millionaires for the purpose of mobilizing "40 million out of the estimated 60 million evangelicals in the United... MORE >
Kyle Mantyla, Monday 10/17/2011, 4:33pm
Rush Limbaugh really ought to do some basic research before accusing President Obama of targeting Christians.   And WND, of course, gives Limbaugh a run for his money.   Mike Huckabee sure does like joking about voter suppression.   Harry Jackson continues his shameless shilling for energy interests.   Bryan Fischer credits Rick Perry for "not throwing Robert Jeffress under the bus" and predicts that he will be the GOP nominee.   Finally, imagine there's no pizza. MORE >
Kyle Mantyla, Monday 10/03/2011, 4:41pm
Pat Robertson says he will no longer be making political endorsements because "the truth of the matter is politics is not going to change our world. It's really not going to make that much of a difference." Suddenly, Mike Huckabee and Mitt Romney are BFFs. Bryan Fischer is very excited that Rush Limbaugh talked about his article on the radio, even though Limbaugh has no idea who Fischer is or where he saw the article. Lots of legislators seem to love Wallbuilders "ProFamily Legislators Conference." Finally, the Supreme Court has rejected Alan Keyes... MORE >
Kyle Mantyla, Friday 09/30/2011, 4:37pm
Disappointingly, Mike Huckabee is not considering entering the Republican presidential race. Glenn Beck is now targeting kids with a new children's show on his GBTV network. Bryan Fischer's latest conspiracy theory is about how President Obama wants the Supreme Court to strike down health care reform so that he can use it to win re-election. Shocklingly, FRC is not happy that military chaplains can now conduct same-sex marriage. On a related note, Elaine Donnelly says it is ridiculous for the military to recruit at gay venues. Finally, Liberty University... MORE >
Kyle Mantyla, Monday 09/26/2011, 4:41pm
Mike Huckabee says it is "economic terrorism" to encourage companies not to fund anti-gay groups. Herman Cain won the Florida Straw Poll. Michele Bachmann reportedly held her own gathering with pastors. The New York Times profiles Bradlee Dean. Supreme Court Justice Sam Alito spoke to a private gathering at Regent University. If anyone knows of smacking of arrogance and stupidity, it would be Newt Gingrich. Finally, Cindy Jacobs has some big news for Australia. MORE >
Brian Tashman, Tuesday 09/20/2011, 10:11am
Only a few years ago Religious Right groups and Republicans were running as far as possible away from the Personhood Colorado campaign, the effort to pass an extreme anti-choice measure that was twice handily defeated by Colorado voters. Last year, the National Right to Life Committee, Americans United for Life, Colorado Citizens for Life all refused to back the Colorado personhood amendment, and the Colorado Eagle Forum called the personhood campaign a “disaster.” But now, the Personhood Mississippi campaign –which is nearly identical to the Colorado effort – has... MORE >