Mike Huckabee

Welcome Back, Christian Coalition

The Christian Coalition has had its share of problems in recent years. Ever since Ralph Reed left, the Coalition has been in a freefall, watching as state chapters sever their ties with the national organization and then start suing each other and then trying to hire a new president to turn everythying around, only to have him resign before ever taking office because they are unwilling to consider broadening their agenda.

It was into this chaos that Dennis Baxley stepped when he took over the Christian Coalition of Florida earlier this year, seemingly fully aware of the organization’s increasing irrelevance:

Until the Christian Coalition shows again that its endorsed candidates can win major offices, Baxley said, its influence will be negligible.

"Is anyone going to care what grade they get from the Christian Coalition?" Baxley asked. 

But Baxley has been working hard to turn that around and got off to a good start by getting Mike Huckabee to headline their God and Country Gala back in July.  And now it looks like Baxley is doing his part to recapture some of the Coalition’s former glory by experimenting with the Right’s standard means of generating coverage for itself: saying stupid things in the press

Here's what Dennis Baxley, a former state legislator from Ocala and the executive director of the Christian Coalition of Florida, one of the most prominent groups on the religious right, said during an interview with the Miami Herald about Obama's outreach to the Christian community:

"He's pretty scary to us,'' he said. "I think his Muslim roots and training -- while they try to minimize it -- it's there."

Asked what he meant, Baxley pointed to Obama's childhood stint in Indonesia and his Muslim relatives.

"That concerns me particularly in the period of history we are living in, when there's an active movement by radical Muslims to occupy us,'' Baxley said of Obama's background. "That whole way of life is all about submission. It concerns me that someone rooted in those beginnings, how it might have affected their outlook. That's what scary for me."

Baxley on Obama's trip to Europe: "I think you can tell from his appeal and how a lot of the media emphasized how loved he is in other places. I'm very concerned that our own American values rooted in Christian principles be protected. It's fine with me if he wants to run for chancellor of Germany or chief of the European union, but not for president of the United States. I'm concerned about someone who has those global priorities. I just want someone who will take those responsibilities of preserving American values and American culture and not try to make us citizens of the world."

On Obama's description of himself as a devout Christian: "I don't want to pass judgment. I take him at face value. I do look at his story and where he's been, and the influence of the Rev. Wright-type of Christianity, and I'm not sure that's what I relate to...He wants to tax the rich more and redistribute wealth to other people -- where I come from that's socialism. Karl Marx was not a Christian."

Asked if he speaks in public about Obama's "Muslim roots'': "I really don't talk about candidates. I talk about issues. My greatest challenge is not Obama, it's apathy. I'm trying to get values voters to rise out of their apathy and participate...I can't speak for anyone else but I'm probably typical of all of the people who are suspect of those Muslim roots. We all know what early intervention with children is all about, and I am really wondering what the influence was on him from his father's background and being in a Muslim country. I'm not cooking up some plot about Muslims trying to inject a leader into our country but I am wondering how it influences his thinking."

Are McCain-Palin Afraid to Be Seen With The Right?

John McCain had never, until recently, been the darling of the Religious Right.  Even while crafting a political record that furthered much of their agenda, McCain had never been particularly fond of the Right, a view that was on full display back in 2000 when he lashed out against the movement’s leaders as “corrupting influences on religion and politics” and “agents of intolerance.”

Because of this long-standing mutual animosity, McCain had never been invited to most of the annual right-wing gathering and presumably wouldn’t have attended if he had.  But that changed last year when he suddenly realized that he desperately needed their support if he was to win the Republican nomination, at which point he started showing up at their confabs, showing up at CPAC, addressing the secretive Council for National Policy and joining all the other GOP hopefuls at the FRC’s Values Voter Summit.  

At the time of the FRC summit, McCain’s campaign was thought to be dead in the water and the battle for right-wing hearts and minds was being waged between Mike Huckabee and Mitt Romney.  But since then, McCain has managed to secure the nomination and, though his relationship with the Right remained strained, he began working hard to win the over; an effort that finally succeeded with his decision to name Sarah Palin as his running mate.    

But now the time is approaching for this year’s Values Voter Summit – The Battle for America’s Future:

And while the organizers are racking up big name speakers like Sean Hannity, Tom DeLay, Newt Gingrich, and Mitt Romney, two names are conspicuously absent from their list of confirmed speakers:  John McCain and Sarah Palin. According to the Summit website, both have been invited - yet with only a few days before its begins, neither has agreed to attend.

There appears to be a pattern developing here.  Just last week, Palin had been scheduled to address Phyllis Schlafly’s reception at the Republican Convention only to cancel at the last minute.  And now, with the biggest right-wing political conference of the year about to get underway - an event which McCain addressed just last year – both he and his running mate are nowhere to be seen.  

It seems as if the McCain campaign it trying to have it both ways; picking Palin specifically to appease the Right yet trying to avoid actually being seen in public with them out of fear of undermining the “maverick” image they are desperately trying to craft.

Barton: Don’t Listen to the Maverick

It’s easy to get confused about John McCain – is he the “straight-talkin’ maverick” his supporters and the media love or is he the candidate who votes 90% of the time with George W. Bush, has a long record of anti-abortion zealotry, and caves to this party’s right-wing base?

Well, right-wing pseudo-historian, former Mike Huckabee supporter, and current McCain cheerleader David Barton has some pretty solid advice:  ignore what McCain says and just look at his record:

“There was some talk about Christians staying home, but that’s over,” said David Barton, an evangelical Christian from near Fort Worth, Texas “And I’ve been telling my friends not to listen to Obama or McCain. Just see how they voted. McCain is right on judges, he’s right on life issues, he’s right on the marriage issue. We can talk about some things I didn’t like, but when it comes to Biblical teaching he’s the obvious candidate.”

Now if only the media would do the same.

Palin-McCain?

Supporters of Republican Vice Presidential nominee Sarah Palin are desperately trying to come up with anything they can think of to rebut concerns about her lack of qualifications and experience, from claiming that she has foreign policy experience because Alaska is near Russia to claims that she has national security credentials because she is "commander in chief" of the Alaska National Guard.

As ridiculous as those arguments might be, at least they don’t undermine John McCain’s claims to be qualified and experienced enough to run the country, which is what Mike Huckabee seems to be inadvertently doing:

"Over the past few days, we’ve been hearing all this stuff about how Gov. Palin doesn’t have experience. Let me tell you something, I can assure, having been a governor, myself, for 10 and a half years, she’s had more executive experience in two years than her counterpart Joe Biden has had in all the years that he’s been making speeches, because she’s been making decisions -- he’s been making just simple speeches."

Apparently, less than two years as Governor of one of the nation’s least populous states counts for more in terms of experience than Joe Biden’s 35 years in the US Senate.  If that is indeed the case, then Palin’s 18 months in office must likewise count for more than John McCain’s own 22 years in the Senate.

Considering that “she’s been making decisions” while McCain’ has “been making just simple speeches,” maybe the two ought to switch positions on the ticket so that McCain can get some “executive experience” under his belt before seeking the presidency.

You’d think that the McCain campaign would realize the lunacy of this line of argument, but you’d be wrong:

The McCain campaign will launch a television ad directly comparing Gov. Palin’s executive experience as a governor who oversees 24,000 state employees, 14 statewide cabinet agencies and a $ 10 billion budget to Barack Obama’s experience as a one-term junior senator from Illinois.

So Obama has no “executive experience” because he’s only served in the Senate?  Kind of like John McCain?  Why is the McCain campaign running ads that undermine their own candidate’s qualifications?

Huckabee's Anti-Romney Crusade Marches On

Today's papers are filled with articles about Mitt Romney's presence at the Democratic Convention in Denver, suggesting that his high-profile role is something of an audition for the vice-presidential spot on John McCain's ticket.

As the Politico reports, McCain is preparing to name his running mate soon and Romney is clearly among the front-runners

So McCain seems to be applying the Woody Hayes axiom of football to politics: Two of the three things that can happen when you put the ball in the air are negative (an incompletion or an interception).

Instead, he’s likely to make the vice presidential equivalent of a handoff up the middle.

Or, in the words of a top adviser, “a solid, safe pick.”

For months, the selection of Romney had been dismissed because of one  seemingly intractable problem: McCain simply didn’t like the guy.

But according to this adviser, that has changed.

“He has really gotten to like Romney. They’ve come a long way.”

So one would think that, as the liklihood of Romney getting the nod increases, Republicans would be rallying around him - but you'd be wrong because Mike Huckabee seems bizarrely intent on slamming Romney right up until the very last minute:

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee says if John McCain selects former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney as his running mate, it eliminates what he calls "the Joe Biden issue" for Republicans.

"During the primary, Romney attacked McCain. He attacked me," the one-time presidential hopeful said today on Rush Limbaugh's radio show. "One of the problems McCain would have if he picked Romney was that it takes the Joe Biden issue off the table where Biden is saying great things about McCain and terrible things about Obama. They'll be running those tapes back over and over during the debates when Romney was attacking McCain and saying, 'Which time do we trust you? Then or now?'"

Limbaugh responded he didn't think the primary infighting among Republicans would make much of a difference in the general election.

"That's true for both parties, and McCain's running ads right now featuring Hillary endorsing him," Limbaugh said. "There is a gold mine of Hillary audio and video that McCain can make an ad of. Those things happen in primaries."

Huckabee said he would still support McCain even if Romney is selected as running mate, citing his opposition to abortion rights.

Huckabee has committed himself to doing whatever he can to help John McCain win, but has also repeatedly made clear that he really, really wants the vice-presidency and doesn't think Romney is an acceptable option.

As his own hopes seem to fade, Huckabee can't quite seem to let go of his personal animosity toward Romney or realize that constantly slamming the man who may very well become McCain's running mate is not helping the cause.

The One-Sided Battle Rages On

It is no secret that Mike Huckabee and Mitt Romney did not exactly like one another during the GOP primary.  But ever since John McCain secured the nomination, the Romney campaign has largely held its tongue while Huckabee and his supporters have continued to attack Romney in an effort to prevent him from getting the VP spot on McCain’s ticket - a spot Huckabee clearly wants all to himself

So, with reports swirling that McCain may be ready to make his selection, it comes as no surprise that Huckabee would try to get a few last jabs in, sitting down with CNSNews and bad-mouthing Romney for, of all things, enforcing the law:

In an exclusive video interview with CNSNews.com, Huckabee said that, had he been in Romney’s shoes, he would not have used his executive power as governor to carry out the court’s unilateral declaration that the other branches of state government must certify same-sex marriages.

“You know, it’s interesting, the California decision as well as the Massachusetts decision, I don’t think should ever have been implemented by the governors, Schwarzenegger and Romney,” said Huckabee.  “They were both decisions that the governors simply could have said the court has said that we have to do it, but let them enforce it.  Because those were administrative decisions that had to put that in place and there was no mandate.”

When asked whether Romney’s decision to comply with his state supreme court’s order to allow same-sex marriages should disqualify him as a Republican vice-presidential nominee, Huckabee said:  “Well, you know, I’ve not probably been an advocate for him in that position. And, you know, I am going to let him defend himself. And I don’t want to relive the primary. But I think that that was a very unfortunate position that he took in saying that, ‘Well, I can’t do anything about it.’  Oh, yes you can.”

Huckabee said he did not hold Romney “singularly” responsible for same-sex marriages in Massachusetts, but that he did hold him “responsible for implementing” them.

“He could have stopped it, and should have stopped it,” Huckabee said.

Asked if he would have had clerks and justices of the peace certify same-sex marriages had he been in Romney’s position, Huckabee said: “Absolutely not.”

As we noted before, for a guy who fancies himself a “Christian leader,” Huckabee’s not big on the whole forgiveness thing.

What To Do When God’s Candidate Loses?

Once upon a time, Janet Folger declared that the only hope Christians had of not being rounded up and sent off to prison was to support Mike Huckabee.  It was that sort of passion that landed her a position as co-chair of Mike Huckabee’s Faith and Values Coalition, whom she had anointed the “David among Jesse’s sons” after the Values Voter Debate she organized back in 2007.

In essence, God had chosen Huckabee and it was Folger’s job to make it clear that those with firm Christian principles must refuse to support anyone else:

There are sheep, and there are shepherds. Sheep follow the pundits, the polls, political expediency and promised perks. Shepherds follow principle. Gov. Mike Huckabee is such a man. So are those who stand on principle with him.

So wedded to Huckabee was Folger that she even started a front-group that ran ads against both Mitt Romney and John McCain:

Senator John McCain favors forcing taxpayers to fund embryonic stem cell research, which the National Right to Life Committee says: "requires killing human embryos."

McCain violated our Free Speech rights with the notorious McCain-Feingold Act, and personally sued Wisconsin Right to Life for communicating with their members prior to an election.

John McCain is one of only seven Republican senators who voted against the Marriage Protection Amendment supported by President Bush.

John McCain:  Against protecting life.  Against protecting free speech.  Against protecting marriage.

But that was then.  Once God’s candidate failed to secure the nomination, Folger changed her tune, declaring it imperative that those with firm Christian principles now support John McCain. 

Folger was blasted by Gordon Klingenschmitt for selling-out in the pages of WorldNetDaily, but that obviously didn’t silence her, as she has returned to the pages of WND - this time to blast WND founder Joseph Farah for his own staunch refusal to support McCain, beseeching him to put aside his own principles for the greater good:

Here's the bottom line: If McCain is elected, we WILL get the judges we need to bring this slaughter to an end. All of our efforts and all of our labors that have taken us this far will have been worth it. If Obama is elected, we will not only see the court stacked against us with life-long appointments, we will lose every single advance we have ever made in every state, city and county.

You want to protest? Get a sign and march. We're out of time. Besides that, I'm sick of marching – I want to win: I want to restore protection to children in my lifetime.

I've given my life to the pro-life movement, and I don't have another life to give it. Neither do the 50 million children whose lives were stolen from them. If we don't take what may be our last chance, I don't believe we're going to see another one. If we choose protest over influence, Obama will not only make sure that another 50 million children lose their lives, but he'll make sure we won't recognize what's left of our nation when he's through with it.

I urge you to choose life, that we and our children may live. That choice is John McCain. Any other choice will be lethal … literally.

In the course of six months, Folger has gone from a militantly principled Huckabee activist who was convinced that he was God’s chosen candidate to a vocal supporter of John McCain, whom she was recently proclaiming was against protecting life, free speech, and marriage and therefore utterly unacceptable.

Will McCain Poke The Right in the Eye?

Ezra Klein predicts that John McCain will choose Joe Lieberman as his running mate and explains his reasoning:

For the Republicans, however, 2008 can't be [about] mobilization. Their half is too small. Their brand is too damaged. And they recognized that when they chose John McCain -- who's not a base mobilizing evangelical conservative anyway -- as their nominee … [Lieberman] lets McCain telegraph an ideological ambiguity and shift towards a policy agenda that's about process, about "reaching across party lines and getting things done," rather than about sops to the conservative base.

That may very well be true, but for this strategy to work one has to assume that the McCain camp would be willing to sacrifice nearly the entire Religious Right base in an effort to win support of moderates and independents because, as the Right has made abundantly clear, their now tepid support for McCain hinges almost entirely on his choice of running mate.  

Just last week, we were noting how the Right was nearly unanimous in their opposition to Lieberman and that, while they were just starting to warm up to McCain, their efforts at mobilizing their grassroots activists on his behalf came to a screeching halt when he suggested that he was open to the idea of naming a pro-choice running mate.  

Right-wing activists have been battling one another over whom best fills the McCain campaign’s need to appease the base for weeks now, a battle that continues even to this day:

Among those doing some soul-searching this week is Betty Kanavel, who lives in the tiny Monroe County town of Ida and will vote for no one who isn't anti-abortion. She would like McCain to pick Mike Huckabee, the charismatic preacher and former Arkansas governor who finished third in Michigan's primary.

The 56-year-old Kanavel, who works part-time at her church, also is concerned over Romney's religion.

"I probably shouldn't go there, but I will anyway: The Mormon religion is totally not the Bible," Kanavel said, adding: "It's very hard, but if he's the choice, OK. He is a good man."

But this is a debate that has raged over Mike Huckabee vs. Mitt Romney and is rooted in the fact that both are, at least nominally, pro-life.  Lieberman, for all his faults, is ostensibly pro-choice - a fact that will not be easily glossed over by the Religious Right: 

Let us be clear on this. Our values and our respect for the Constitution make clear that women must have the right to choose—and we will continue to fight for that right

When McCain floated the idea of a pro-choice running mate a few weeks ago, the Right went completely off the rails and leaders like Richard Land have been taking every opportunity to make absolutely clear just what such a decision would mean to McCain's campaign: 

If he picks a pro-life running mate, it will really cement evangelical support. If he picks a pro-choice running mate it will give oxygen to all those doubts, and deflate the momentum that has been building.

As James Dobson explained last month when he announced that he was changing his position from “never” to “maybe” on McCain, his support hinged in large part on McCain’s choice of running mate:

I don't even know who his vice-presidential candidate will be. You know he could very well choose a pro-abortion candidate and it would not be unlike him to do that because he seems to enjoy a frustrating conservatives on occasions. But as of this moment, I have to take into account the fact that Senator John McCain has voted pro-life
consistently and that's a fact.

In case that wasn’t clear enough, FOF’s Tom Minnery recently told the San Francisco Chronicle that Dobson is essentially waiting to see who McCain picks before officially endorsing him:

"Admittedly, for a lot of us, McCain is an acquired taste," said Tom Minnery, who leads the government and public policy division for Focus on the Family.

But if McCain chooses a strong social conservative for his running mate, Focus on the Family's leader, James Dobson - whose conservative radio broadcasts are heard by 200 million people worldwide - could endorse him.

"We'll wait to see who his vice president is before embracing him," Minnery said.

If the McCain campaign decides that a pro-choice running mate is what the campaign needs, it’ll be because it has concluded that he can with without the Right or, more likely, that the Right will put aside its principles because they have no alternative but to support the campaign regardless of his running mate.  But the Right is in no mood to be insulted in this manner.  As it stands now, McCain’s support from the right-wing base is tenuous at best and will likely collapse completely were he to fill out his ticket with a pro-choice candidate.

As Dobson explained it, McCain has a history of going “out of his way to stick his thumb in the eyes” of the Religious Right – and choosing a pro-choice running mate would be the ultimate poke in the eye to the Right; one that would make it nearly impossible for them to support him.

McCain’s Ultimate Insult

Last week, the on-line activists who constitute Huck’s Army were issuing demands to John McCain and the GOP that Mike Huckabee either had to be named the vice presidential candidate or given the keynote speaking slot at the convention.

The RNC ignored their latter demand, giving that coveted spot to Rudy Giuliani, and now it looks like McCain might be on the verge of ignoring the other:

Mark Halperin set off tremors in the political world last night by reporting via two Republicans that John McCain had settled on Mitt Romney to be his running mate.  

Top sources in McCainworld, though, say this morning that no final decision has been made. 

There are mixed signals at this point, as to whether Romney has emerged as the favorite. 

That seems to be the "body language" from the small group of aides who McCain is consulting on the decision, a GOP source says. 

And that interpretation was reinforced when word spread among Romney loyalists last night that the vice-presidential roll-out tour included Michigan.  

It is hard to overstate how insulting this would be to those who backed Huckabee in the primary.  It is widely believed that Huckabee played a key role in sinking Romney’s own presidential aspirations by thwarting his efforts to consolidate the support of the right-wing establishment and serving as McCain’s attack dog, with members of his campaign team starting anti-Romney front groups and constantly harping on Romney’s Mormon faith.  The animosity between the two camps came to a head when Romney bought off the vote at the Values Voter Summit, which Huckabee rightly won. 

Back in January, Joe Carter, who ran Huckabee’s research operations early on, explained the campaign’s hatred for Romney:

[W]hat will destroy Romney's chances is that he will lie about an issue, know that he is lying, know that you know he is lying, and say it anyway. It's not just that he's dishonest. It's that he thinks we're stupid … the reason that Romney's dishonest campaign tactics have helped him in the short run is that most people have yet to realize--as have the other campaigns and the mainstream media--he is a liar. But eventually the public catches on … Supporters of Romney will no doubt be offended by my criticism. I could counter that I'm offended that conservatives are backing a man that, until recently, was just another Massachusetts liberal. Instead I'll just hold my tongue and wait for Romney's campaign to implode. His "lie and buy" strategy may get him a narrow victory in Iowa but he'll flame out soon enough.

In the months since Huckabee dropped his own presidential bid, he’s been anything but subtle about the fact that he’d love to be McCain’s VP and his supporters have gone all out to echo that point and make clear that Romney is utterly unacceptable.  

For McCain to choose Romney over Huckabee after Huckabee’s own campaign was instrumental in helping McCain secure the nomination by taking down Romney, his biggest competition, would be the ultimate insult to Huckabee’s still rabid supporters – and this would only make things worse:

Making matters more confusing, Politico has learned that McCain will visit suburban St. Louis for a major rally with Romney and his still-bitter primary nemesis Mike Huckabee on Sunday, August 31st, the day before the start of the GOP convention.

It would take a considerable act of pride-swallowing for Huckabee to stand before thousands of fans and watch as McCain touts Romney as his running mate.

Huck Will Take VP, But Nothing Else

While Mike Huckabee’s supporters are busy threatening mutiny unless their candidate gets the nod as John McCain’s running mate and launching a seemingly endless parade of anti-Mitt Romney efforts, Huckabee himself as been a most loyal of soldiers, saying that his sole goal is to do whatever is most helpful to McCain and that “this isn't about me anymore. It's really about John McCain and winning.”

And if what McCain decides is most helpful to him would be to name him as his vice presidential candidate, then that would be just swell with Huckabee:

Mike Huckabee on Tuesday said he has not been approached by John McCain about being the U.S. presidential candidate's running mate. But he'd certainly consider the offer.

Huckabee said he didn't think anyone who has run for the U.S. presidency would turn down a chance to be vice president. The former Arkansas governor dropped out of the presidential race last March after McCain clinched the Republican nomination.

Speaking to reporters in Jerusalem, Huckabee said he has received "no indication" that McCain is considering him as a running mate. But if asked, Huckabee said it would be hard to resist.

"I don't think anybody that runs for president turns around and says no," he said.

Huck’s Army Falls Back In Line

Last week, we reported that the on-line activists who constitute Huck’s Army were warning that they would not support John McCain if Mike Huckabee was not named his running mate or at least chosen to deliver the keynote address at the upcoming convention.  

While Huckabee obviously can’t control what his on-line supporters do, that doesn’t mean he can’t undercut them:

Huckabee said he assumes he will be asked to speak during the convention, but didn't know whether he'd be a major player in the GOP's quadrennial pep rally.

"My goal right now at the convention would be to be the most helpful I can be to Sen. McCain," Huckabee said. "Whether that's visible or invisible, that's something he's got to decide, not me."

His schedule will include a couple performances with his Arkansas-based rock band and a conference on obesity. Huckabee also will join the Creative Coalition for a news conference on the importance of music and art education in schools.

"What I want to do is help not just Sen. McCain, but my party and my country," he said, adding, "This isn't about me anymore. It's really about John McCain and winning."

And predictably, the activists behind Huck’s Army have now sent out a clarifying email saying that the previous message was not the official position of the group:

The message that went out to our forum members today is not the official position of HucksArmy and was a communication from a few of our members who were concerned by some dismissive treatment toward supporters of conservative cultural values.

Many of our members and leaders consider the earlier statement overly harsh and demanding. Understand that any directives that HucksArmy sends out is not a command but an option.

HucksArmy is a community and not an organization and so we rarely issue statements representing the whole of our community.

HucksArmy as a whole is not demanding that Huckabee be the VP or be given a keynote at convention or else. While we would love to see these things happen, we do not have any official demands as a collective group.

But just because Huckabee and his supporters are playing nice, that still doesn't mean they've given up their almost militant opposition to Mitt Romney:

Bauer said he personally believes that Romney "would be a great running mate" and said he has conveyed that message personally to Romney. Bauer, chairman of the Campaign for Working Families political action committee, said he was not allowed to say whether he advised McCain to pick Romney.

Bauer said that he recently conducted an unscientific poll among activists about who should be picked for vice president and said that Romney won a plurality of votes. He said that "it was notable" that among those who backed Huckabee, "many of them said negative things about Governor Romney."

In fact, a battle between Huckabee and Romey supporters continues to unfold in Michigan:

In a blistering e-mail Friday to Michigan Republicans, a former aide to Mitt Romney's presidential campaign accused Michigan social conservative activist and Mike Huckabee supporter Gary Glenn of "a vicious smear campaign" against Romney.

Katie Packer, the strategist for Romney's successful Michigan primary campaign, accused Glenn, the head of the American Family Association of Michigan, of distorting Romney's record on social issues and "declaring war on other members of the Republican party."

Glenn, in an e-mail to The Detroit News, responded with a list of criticisms of Romney's record on social issues. "If Katie wants to have another full-fledged public debate about Mitt Romney's pro-abortion, pro-homosexual record, now is an excellent time," he wrote.

Religious Right Leaders Bash Obama, Abortion Rights at "Non-Political” Event

A group of national Religious Right leaders used a press conference held in Washington the day before The Call – a “non-political” youth prayer rally on the mall – to talk about the event and to denounce Sen. Barack Obama and criticize Christians who are considering voting for him. Lou Engle, the increasingly visible organizer of similar rallies around the country said the event was designed to mobilize young Christians around ending abortion. Immediately after saying the event was not political, and was not about endorsing a candidate, he launched into an attack on Sen. Obama’s pro-choice record and implicitly questioned the candidate’s faith, describing politicians “who say they’re Christian.” Engle, who is also actively backing anti-gay ballot initiatives on marriage, called pro-choice and pro-equality efforts “false justice movements.” Bishop Harry Jackson, the most visible African American Religious Right spokesman, wasn’t coy about his political message for the day: if Sen. McCain chooses a pro-abortion vice president he will give the election to Obama. Jackson called it “tantamount to political suicide.” Jackson also returned to his standard denunciation of abortion as “black genocide” and “pandemic extermination.” Jackson said that America needs God’s favor, and that this year’s election – an important “expression of desire” for the people of God – will basically let God know whether we deserve it. The Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins said that it’s right for evangelicals to offer solutions on issues like AIDS, fiscal policy, and racial reconciliation, but that doesn’t mean all issues are equal. He said young evangelicals are more fervently anti-abortion than their parents, and that waning evangelical support for the Republican Party was a reflection of how poorly the party functioned in power, not a sign of reduced commitment. Asked about Sen. Obama’s outreach to evangelical voters, Jackson said he thought it was good to be considered a swing vote, and hoped that it could push both parties closer to evangelical concerns. Engle was less enthusiastic, denouncing Obama’s record on abortion issues in graphic terms and warning young evangelicals that if they compromised on abortion, history would stand in judgment of them the way it stands in judgment on churches’ silence on slavery. Former presidential candidate and long-shot VP possibility Mike Huckabee said the purpose of the event was “not political at all.” Huckabee, like Engle, cited Martin Luther King, Jr. as a role model, saying it took “not a politician but a preacher” to remind the country of the evils of racism. During Q&A, Huckabee said he’d support McCain no matter who he chose as VP, but he thought a pro-choice running mate would hurt McCain by draining enthusiasm and intensity from his evangelical supporters.

Huck’s Army Threatens a Mutiny

Mike Huckabee may not have had the most supporters during the Republican primaries, but he certainly had the most vocal supporters.  From the get-go, Huckabee secured the support of the Religious Right’s most fringe activists and even though he didn’t win the nomination, that hasn’t stopped his supporters from continuing to push his candidacy.  

Even before John McCain freaked out the right-wing base with talk of choosing a pro-choice running mate, we noted that Huckabee supporters were pressing him hard to pick their man for his number two slot.    And now it looks like they are threatening to abandon McCain altogether if they don’t get their way:

A group of Michigan social conservatives who support former presidential candidate Mike Huckabee threatened Thursday to abandon Republican nominee John McCain, upset that McCain's vice presidential choice may not reflect their anti-abortion, anti-gay marriage positions.

The uproar came after a pair of meetings Wednesday -- while McCain was campaigning here -- in which his campaign hoped to strengthen its support with religious conservatives. Huckabee supporters said they were especially upset at word that, at a meeting in Birmingham between McCain and a small group of conservative activists, a top McCain ally had floated the possibility he'd pick a running mate who is for abortion rights.

"We are totally done with McCain at this point," said Debra Mantey, one of the organizers of the other meeting, in Saginaw. She said she and many others in the group will refuse to help McCain's campaign unless Huckabee is on the ballot, or given the keynote address at the GOP convention.

Even the on-line activists who make up Huck’s Army are livid and threatening to mutiny against the GOP unless their demands are met:

WE WILL NOT VOTE FOR A MCCAIN TICKET UNLESS:

1)    Mike Huckabee is the VP; or

2)    Mike Huckabee is the KEY NOTE SPEAKER at the National GOP Convention

Know that our meetings here in Michigan with McCain prompted this urgent action--

Romney is being shoved down our throats here, and misinformation about us is rampant.

In addition, you may know that this also happened at one of the meetings:

"Several in attendance reported to me that Sen. Lindsey Graham seriously asked if social conservatives would support a vice president who favors abortion on demand.  They were shocked the question even had to be asked, and alienated that the McCain campaign appears to be even considering it." --Gary Glenn, Mich. American Family Assn. President

So now, we know what McCain thinks of us and our issues.  He is only concerned with catering to the independent voters.  We, who supported Mike Huckabee, the millions of voters who earned him a 2nd place in delegate count--are being ignored by McCain.  McCain must know that he will LOSE not only Michigan without us, but the election.  At this point, he does not HAVE US.   We've tried repeatedly to reach out to him, and he has ignored us. 

How Many Pro-Hucakbee/Anti-Romney Efforts Do They Need?

Earlier today, the Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins participated in an on-line Q&A on The Washington Times’ website during which he set out the characteristics the Right is looking for in John McCain’s vice-presidential running mate.  His choice of words that the running mate “needs to be strong where he is weak” by having “have a record of delivering” on the issues that matter to the Right suggests that he, like so many others, is not particularly enthused about McCain:

Question: There has been a lot written about possible VP candidates for McCain that will be acceptable to the Christian value voters. Who are a few possibilities that you could see this coalition being comfortable with?

Answer: To date I have resisted the temptation to play the name game. Rather, I have focused on the qualities we would like to see in John McCain’s running mate. His running mate needs to be strong where he is weak, someone who is not reluctant to talk about the issues that remain top priority for most social conservatives; the sanctity of human life, the preservation of traditional marriage and the strengthening of the family. Not only must this person be able to communicate a concern and a commitment for these issues, they have to have a record of delivering on these and other issues.

So who would be a good choice?  Mike Hucakbee, of course:

Answer: There is no question in my mind that Mike Huckabee would raise the intensity level of support for John McCain, something the Senator really needs. I do have some policy differences with Mike, but we share a common view on most, if not all, of the social policy issues. I think he would compliment John McCain and I would be supportive of him as John McCain's running mate.

It seems that just about every right-wing activist currently supporting McCain wants him to pick Hucakbee and is warning him not to pick Mitt Romney.  In fact, as we reported yesterday, McCain is currently in Michigan meeting with former Huckabee supporters who are telling him the same thing yet again.  And just in case that message hasn’t yet sunk in, another group of Huckabee supporters in Ohio are starting groups all over the state in order to get the message out: 

Some Ohio social conservatives say they know whom they don't want John McCain to pick as his running mate: former Republican presidential rival Mitt Romney.

In a move that may say as much about their continuing uneasiness regarding McCain as it does about their mistrust of Romney, an alliance of Buckeye State social conservatives is trying to form a group: Social Conservatives Against Romney.

Although McCain is keeping his potential vice-presidential choices a tightly held secret, Romney is said to be on the short list.

"Christians are praying earnestly for the right person," said Diane Stover, a Parma resident who was a delegate for GOP candidate Mike Huckabee, a favorite of many social conservatives, in the Ohio primary. "McCain wouldn't have been our person. But we definitely feel like it would be a huge help to John McCain to pick someone we can be confident will represent the value-voter position. I don't think it helps him (McCain) at all in Ohio if he picks Romney."

Jane Maines of Hamilton, also a former Huckabee delegate, said the anti-Romney Ohioans hope their group will spread to other states.

Stover and Maines are among about a dozen activists who met near Cincinnati last week, with Stover participating via phone from the Cleveland area, to discuss how to launch the group.

"We're hoping this will become hugely widespread," Maines said.

Presumably, the fact that McCain is not ruling out the possibility of naming a pro-choice running mate is only going to displease the Right further:

IN A WIDE-RANGING INTERVIEW aboard his campaign plane this morning, John McCain said that he is open to choosing a pro-choice running mate and named former Pennsylvania governor Tom Ridge as someone who merits serious consideration despite his support for abortion rights. McCain also criticized Barack Obama's presidential campaign for attempts to "politicize" the debate over Georgia and criticized President Bush for failing to recognize the true nature of Vladimir Putin.

"I think that the pro-life position is one of the important aspects or fundamentals of the Republican Party," McCain said. "And I also feel that--and I'm not trying to equivocate here--that Americans want us to work together. You know, Tom Ridge is one of the great leaders and he happens to be pro-choice. And I don't think that that would necessarily rule Tom Ridge out."

Who’s McCain Meeting in Michigan?

The Detroit News reports that John McCain is set to meet with “10 social conservative activists and religious leaders from around Michigan” on Wednesday, though the stop does not appear on his schedule of events and the names are not being released.  

Meanwhile, Marlys Popma, the campaign’s director of evangelical outreach, is scheduled to join former Mike Huckabee supporters to be told, once again, that he had better not pick Mitt Romney as a running mate:

McCain's vice presidential selection is likely to be a major topic at both meetings. Matney said Huckabee supporters want the former Arkansas governor on the ticket; failing that, she said, many would oppose Romney. While the Michigan native and former Massachusetts governor got significant support from many conservatives during his primary campaign, others say they are suspicious of his relatively recent move to social conservative positions on issues such as abortion and gay marriage.

Some Huckabee supporters will not back McCain if Romney is on the ticket, Matney said. "That's not the sentiment of everybody," she said. "(But) we would certainly rather have somebody other than Romney on the ticket. Who he chooses will speak volumes to us."

The Saginaw meeting also will include supporters of the so-called "Fair Tax," a proposal Huckabee embraced during his primary campaign. It would eliminate income taxes in favor of a flat-rate sales tax.

It was unclear Monday exactly who McCain himself would meet with and where.

One person familiar with the planning, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the meeting, said arrangements could change, but that the meeting would involve about 10 social conservative activists. Again, opposition to Romney was likely to be among the topics, this person said.

Huckabee: I'd Rather Be On TV Than Serve in Government

Mike Huckabee recently sat down with the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette to discuss the current state of politics and his emerging television stardom.  During the course of the conversation, Huckabee weighed in on a variety of topics: proclaiming that if Fred Thompson had not entered the race, he would have won the South Carolina primary and would be the GOP nominee today; reiterating that he has no reason to think that he’ll be John McCain’s running mate; asserting that “it would be beyond imagination if I didn’t get a prime speaking spot” at the GOP Convention; and declaring that there is “no way” that he’ll take a position with the administration if McCain wins:

If McCain wins and offers you a position in his administration, would you consider it ?

No. No way.

Why ?

Why would I want to do that ? What possible reason ? I’m gonna have a good life out here in the private sector. Why would I go back to telling everybody in the world how much money I make and being limited to what I can make and living in a very expensive city and barely surviving to have some obscure Cabinet post and have some 20-year-old from the White House telling me what I’m gonna do ? Thanks but no thanks. I have better things to do with my life.

Of course Huckabee can't be bothered to serve in government ... not when he’s got a television program in the works:

The week after our interview, Huckabee was scheduled to fly to New York to shoot a pilot for his new TV show this fall on FOX. His new book about the campaign, Do the Right Thing, is to hit stores on November 17 th. He had just returned from a business trip to Japan, while a trip to Rwanda with other politicos loomed. Oh, and he would also be subbing on the radio for Paul Harvey during his stint in Manhattan.

First, the TV bit. It seems such a natural as to be a stereotype. Huck TV. What else but ? Mike Huckabee is to radio, television, Internet, YouTube, multi-media and anything involving a microphone-and-camera as leaves are to trees. Sometimes it’s hard to tell where one ends and the other begins.

Of his show, Huckabee offers only generalities: “I can say it’s gonna be unlike anything else that’s on FOX and maybe on cable.” When asked if it’s a talk show, Huckabee says, “yes and no. Not a talk show like you’ve seen. We’ll have a live studio audience and some very innovative features.” But surely it’ll be about politics, right ?

“Politics will be a part of it, but it certainly won’t be all of it,” Huckabee says. “I mean, what isn’t politics a part of now ? There are entertainment shows that have a political overtone. I think this may be a political show that has an entertainment overtone.” Images of the Howard Cosell variety hour come frighteningly to mind in the worst-case, fish-out-of-water scenario. In the best case, a conservative version of Jon Stewart without the snarkiness. Regardless, it’s hard to imagine any show that could be unlike anything on cable. What hasn’t been done, you know ?

Here’s a possible clue: One of the producers working with Huckabee is a man named Woody Fraser, who was the original producer of the Mike Douglas Show and Good Morning America.

The Call Gets Political

When we wrote about The Call a few weeks ago, we noted that their mission claims to be less about politics and more about “fasting and prayer for the benefit of the nation.” Of course, such claims are somewhat undermined by the fact that they tend to hold events in Washington, DC just before presidential elections.  

We also noted that, prior to the event, Tony Perkins, Mike Huckabee, and others were scheduled to join The Call’s founder Lou Engle for a press conference – one that seems designed to be openly political and to counter the joint John McCain-Barack Obama event at Rick Warren’s Saddleback Church:

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee (R) and top evangelical leaders will join forces next week to amplify issues such as abortion, same-sex marriage and stem-cell research in the race for the White House.

Huckabee, Family Research Council President Tony Perkins, and Lou Engle, the leader of The Call, a young adult movement, plan to hold a news conference Friday calling on Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Barack Obama (D-Ill.) to spend more time talking about issues that matter to evangelical voters.

According to Engle, the goal of the event is to “drive the issue of abortion like a wedge into the soul of the nation” and the focus of the press conference seems to be to put added pressure on McCain to pick a suitable running mate, start pushing their issues, and overall alleviate their concerns about him: 

Evangelical leaders are urging McCain, a lifelong opponent of abortion rights, to commit to pushing a constitutional amendment on gay marriage. Social conservative leaders also want him to take a firm position on banning federal funding for stem-cell research.

“I don’t trust John McCain,” Engle said.

McCain’s pledge to appoint strong anti-abortion judges like Supreme Court Justices John Roberts and Samuel Alito does nothing to alleviate Engle’s worries.

“Ronald Reagan promised that and he gave us some of the worst judges we have today,” he said.

Huck Heads to FL To "Wake Up Social Conservatives"

Mike Huckabee is scheduled to headline the Florida Christian Coalition's God and Country 2008 event. According to CCFL executive director Dennis Baxley: "His primary message will be to protect the definition of marriage. This no time to sit home when the very foundation of civilization is being challenged."

Only Huckabee Can Save McCain

A few weeks ago, we wrote several posts about the meeting in Colorado where a large group of right-wing leaders finally decided to support John McCain. At the time, all we had were second-hand accounts that those in attendance had decided that Barack Obama would “decimate [the] moral values” they hold dear and, as such, collectively decided to support McCain as the lesser of two evils. Glossed over in the press coverage was the fact that their support for McCain seemed to rest heavily on his choice of candidate for Vice President, with those in attendance making their preference known that they really want him to pick Mike Huckabee:
Those in attendance also reached a consensus that they would send a letter to McCain, R-Ariz., encouraging him to consider former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee as his choice for vice president. "It's not a demand; it's a request," said [Mat] Staver, who couldn't say when McCain would be contacted about Huckabee, a former Southern Baptist pastor who resonated with some evangelical voters during the Republican primaries.
Until now, the content and signatories of that letter remained unknown. But recently Clark Vandeventer, founder and CEO of World Changers, Inc, who reportedly attended the meeting and signed the letter, posted it on a blog called Veritas Rex and it seems clear that they were not so much “requesting” that McCain pick Huckabee as his Vice President as outright warning him that doing so is “necessary for [his] success”:
We believe that a pro-life, pro-family Vice Presidential running mate is critical to confirm to our constituents that you will take affirmative steps to protect these values. Your selection of a pro-life, pro-family running mate will be one of the first and most important opportunities to communicate your commitment to such values, since we believe that personnel is policy. As citizens who love this country and as leaders who communicate collectively with millions of values voters, we met this week in Denver to discuss our shared moral values and the need to support your campaign. As a sincere expression of what we believe is necessary for your success, we strongly agreed to respectfully urge you to select former Governor Mike Huckabee as your running mate. We believe putting Gov. Huckabee on your ticket will immediately excite, mobilize, and activate a key grassroots constituency that is essential to your success and the advancement and defense of the values we share. We have heard this message so clearly and consistently from our constituencies that we believe it is our duty to respectfully share it with you -- not as a demand or condition of our support -- but as an honest communication of what we believe to be the surest way to immediately activate millions of social conservative voters and activists nationwide in support of your candidacy. Thank you for your consideration. Respectfully, Phil Burress, President, Citizens for Community Values Mathew Staver,Founder and Chairman, Liberty Counsel Gary Glenn, President, American Family Association of Michigan David Barton, Wall Builders Bill and Deborah Owens Clark Vandeventer, Chief Executive Officer, World Changers Inc. Kelly Shackelford, Esq., President, Liberty Legal institute John Stemberger, Florida Attorney and Pro Family Advocate Dr. Beverly LaHaye, Concerned Women for America Dr. Tim F. LaHaye, Tim LaHaye Ministries Paul E. Rondeau Rick Scarborough, President of Vision America Action Johnnie Moore
Campus Pastor, Liberty University Jim Garlow, California Pastors Rapid Response Team Steve Strang, publisher, Charisma magazine Kenneth L. Connor, Wilkes & McHugh, P.A. Clint Cline Donald E. Wildmon, Founder and Chairman, American Family Association Randy Thomasson, President
Campaign for Children and Families Rebecca Kiessling Joshua Straub, American Association of Christian Counselors Sandy Rios, President of Culture Campaign Deryl Edwards, President, Liberty Alliance Linda Harvey, Mission America Diane Gramley, President, American Family Association of Pennsylvania David N. Cutchen Micah Clark, Executive Director, American Family Association of Indiana Don McClure Alex Harris, Founder and Chairman, Huck's Army and Director, The Rebelution Brett Harris, Founder and Chairman, Huck's Army and Director, The Rebelution

Huckabee Doesn't Think He'll "Get the Call" As VP

In a Reuters article, Mike Huckabee explains that "the vice presidency is not a job that a person seeks. It's a job that seeks the person, largely dependent upon how the President is going to feel in terms of comfort level." As for his chances with McCain, Huckabee says, “I’m not sure if I’m the right fit for him…It would be a real surprise if I got the call.”
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Mike Huckabee Posts Archive

Kyle Mantyla, Wednesday 02/23/2011, 5:49pm
PFAW: PFAW Commends President Obama’s Stand Against Unconstitutional Defense of Marriage Act.   Eric Lach @ TPM: Indiana Dep. AG Loses Job After Advocating 'Live Ammunition' For WI Protesters.   Rob Boston @ AU: Kern Spurned: Oklahoma Legislator’s Backdoor Creationism Bill Bounced.   Joe.My.God: Mike Huckabee Slams Obama: Gays Are Breaking Up "Traditional" Families.   Igor Volsky @ Wonk Room: Thrice-Married Gingrich Confronted On Opposition To Marriage Equality.   Charles Johnson @ LGF: Glenn Beck... MORE >
Kyle Mantyla, Wednesday 02/23/2011, 5:37pm
Rick Santorum defends the Crusades. Ken Cuccinelli is scheduled to speak at Regent University. As promised, Randall Terry's crew was arrested at Speaker John Boehner's office today, though Terry himself was not. Mike Huckabee needs to make up his mind about how easy it will be to beat President Obama in 2012. For some reason, the ACLJ has been very silent on their loss in their suit against health care reform. Matt Barber says that everyone who doesn't realize that Muslims are out to enslave us all are "idiots." Finally, John Hagee explains... MORE >
Kyle Mantyla, Tuesday 02/22/2011, 5:37pm
Mike Huckabee sounds like a man who loves his millionaire lifestyle more than he does the prospect of a grueling presidential run. On a related note, John Thune says he is not going to run for president. But Gov. Bob McDonnell is very open to the idea of being someone's VP. Benny Hinn is being sued by his Christian book publisher for violating a morality clause in his book contract. John Stemberger's hearing on his misconduct complaint will be in June. Phill Kline stands by his witch-hunt against Planned Parenthood. Finally, the quote of the day from Bryan... MORE >
Brian Tashman, Tuesday 02/22/2011, 9:25am
Michele Bachmann South Carolina: Slams Obama's foreign policy and says striking workers should be fired in address to GOP activists (Spartanburg Herald Journal, 2/20). Health: Criticizes Michele Obama for encouraging breast feeding (WaPo, 2/19). Veterans: Faces resistance to her plan to dramatically cut funding to veterans (The Daily Beast, 2/18). Haley Barbour Iowa: Tells state's governor that he will campaign in Iowa if he decides to run (Des Moines Register, 2/21). Huckabee: Wins praise on race-issues and political strategy from Mike Huckabee (CNN, 2/21). Race: Silent on proposed car tag... MORE >
Brian Tashman, Tuesday 02/22/2011, 9:25am
Michele Bachmann South Carolina: Slams Obama's foreign policy and says striking workers should be fired in address to GOP activists (Spartanburg Herald Journal, 2/20). Health: Criticizes Michele Obama for encouraging breast feeding (WaPo, 2/19). Veterans: Faces resistance to her plan to dramatically cut funding to veterans (The Daily Beast, 2/18). Haley Barbour Iowa: Tells state's governor that he will campaign in Iowa if he decides to run (Des Moines Register, 2/21). Huckabee: Wins praise on race-issues and political strategy from Mike Huckabee (CNN, 2/21). Race: Silent on proposed car tag... MORE >
Kyle Mantyla, Friday 02/18/2011, 5:28pm
Rep. Michele Bachmann is seeking prayerful "inner assurance" about whether she should run for president. Mike Huckabee really likes going to Israel. Alan Keyes says Sarah Palin is a phony and a hypocrite. Rick Santorum warns that multiculturalism will destroy America. Tim Pawlenty will headline the Tea Party Patriots' "American Policy Summit-Pathways to Liberty" in Arizona next week. Looks like CPAC is going to try to win back the support of social conservatives. Finally, you should really take the time to listen to Peter LaBarbera... MORE >
Kyle Mantyla, Tuesday 02/15/2011, 12:53pm
Mike Huckabee continues to insist that he hasn't yet made up his mind about whether he intends to make another run for president. But yesterday he was in Tennessee to headline a fundraiser for an ultra-right wing anti-choice group called Tennessee for the Center for Bioethical Reform which operates under the tag line" Graphically Exposing The Injustice of Abortion" and "on the principle that abortion represents an evil so inexpressible that words fail us when attempting to describe its horror. Until abortion is seen, it will never be understood." The CBR is... MORE >
Kyle Mantyla, Tuesday 02/15/2011, 12:53pm
Mike Huckabee continues to insist that he hasn't yet made up his mind about whether he intends to make another run for president. But yesterday he was in Tennessee to headline a fundraiser for an ultra-right wing anti-choice group called Tennessee for the Center for Bioethical Reform which operates under the tag line" Graphically Exposing The Injustice of Abortion" and "on the principle that abortion represents an evil so inexpressible that words fail us when attempting to describe its horror. Until abortion is seen, it will never be understood." The CBR is... MORE >