Mike Huckabee

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.”

Will McCain Pick Up Huckabee’s Baggage?

Last week, there was speculation swirling that John McCain was considering choosing one-time presidential rival Mike Huckabee as his vice-presidential running mate and over the weekend, Huckabee himself made it abundantly clear that he really, really wants this job:

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee said yesterday he’d like to be John McCain’s running mate.

“There’s no one I would rather be on a ticket with than John McCain,” said Huckabee, who was a stronger than expected challenger against McCain for the Republican presidential nomination.

“All during the campaign when I was his rival, not a running mate, there was no one who was more complimentary of him publicly and privately. . . . I still wanted to win, but if I couldn’t, John McCain was always the guy I would have supported and have now supported.”

The conventional wisdom is that picking Huckabee would go a long way toward helping McCain shore up the right-wing base that has been somewhat reluctant to support him, given that McCain’s own outreach to that community has little to show so far beyond the controversy generated by the endorsements of John Hagee and Rod Parsely.   

Considering that McCain’s own efforts to woo the Right have been such a disaster, it might behoove his campaign to think long and hard about bringing Huckabee on board because if he climbs aboard the Straight Talk Express, he’ll be bringing his own right-wing baggage along for the ride. 

By now, everyone is familiar with Huckabee’s 1992 statement that the government should have been quarantining those infected with HIV or his statement on the campaign trail that the US Constitution should be amended to meet “God's standards,” or his view that the role of government was to promote Jesus Christ,  so McCain ought to expect to be asked whether he agrees with those views.  He can probably also expect to get lots of grief from former supporters of Mitt Romney, who did not particularly appreciate Huckabee’s attempts to use his own Christian faith as a means of highlighting Romney’s Mormonism and thereby undermine his campaign efforts to reach out to right-wing voters.  

While the McCain camp might consider itself prepared to deal with these sorts of issues, it’ll have its work cut out when it tries to explain away the people who endorsed Huckabee … people like Janet Folger, for instance, who think that the marriage ruling in California is a sign of the End Times.   

Folger was an avid Huckabee supporter from the moment he won the Values Voter Debate which she organized and for which she hand-picked the choir that sang “Why Should God Bless America?,” after which she anointed him the "David among Jesse’s sons."  She went on to pen columns claiming that only Huckabee could prevent Hillary Clinton from throwing all Christians into prison and save her fantasy world from “evil queen and her dragon of slaughter.”  

For her efforts, she was tapped by Huckabee to serve as co-chair of his Faith and Values Coalition, so McCain can look forward to answering questions about whether he agree with her efforts to pray for bad weather to keep voter turnout down, her statements that supporting Barack Obama is like supporting Nazis, and the front-group she launched to attack both Mitt Romney and McCain himself.

And McCain can also look forward to answering questions about Rick Scarborough who, like Folger, served on Huckabee’s Faith and Family Values Coalition.  Scarborough, a self-described “Christocrat” heads Vision America and, when he’s not out palling around with Alan Keys, has a penchant for suggesting that evangelical leaders are dying off because the nation has turned its back on God, suggesting that Christians will have "the blood of martyrs on [their] hands"if they don't oppose hate crimes legislation, blaming "the church" for just standing by and allowing the election of "unrighteous leaders" in 2006, saying that opponents of the War in Iraq are committing treason, organizing conferences designed to highlight the “War on Christians and Values Voters,” and penning books entitled “Liberalism Kills Kids” among other things.

In fact, McCain and Huckabee would have a difficult time explaining away pretty much the entirely of Huckabee’s Faith and Family Values Coalition, which included dozens of right-wing activists like of Don Wildmon, Mike Farris, Mat Staver, Kelly Shackelford, and Phil Burress; not to mention Huckabee’s consorting with the likes of Tim and Beverly LaHaye and Steve Hotze, who once signed a manifesto declaring:

    • A wife may work outside the home only with her husband's consent

    • "Biblical spanking" that results in "temporary or superficial bruises or welts" should not be considered a crime

    • No doctor shall provide medical service on the Sabbath

    • All disease and disability is caused by the sin of Adam and Eve

    • Medical problems are frequently caused by personal sin

And let’s not forget Huckabee’s first job working with James Robison:

Considering that the McCain campaign chalks up the Hagee and Parsley controversy to poor vetting, presumably they intend to do a better job in the future; but if they pick Huckabee, it’ll be obvious that they haven’t learned their lesson at all.  While they may think that Huckabee’s primary contribution to the McCain effort will be his ability to bring along a rabid following of extreme right-wing supporters, allowing McCain to focus on courting the general electorate, it is possible that they will instead end up spending a lot of time trying to distance themselves from controversy such blatant pandering will inevitably generate.

Huckabee Angling for VP Slot?

While most right-wing activists who opposed John McCain in the Republican primary are falling in line with him now that his nomination is secure, there remain a few holdouts. WorldNetDaily editor Joseph Farah recently outlined the general principle guiding stragglers: “All things being equal, I'd rather watch the Democrats destroy America for the next four years, holding out hope that a new kind of Republican leadership might arise to fight back in 2012.”

Mike Huckabee is not one of these holdouts. Or is he?

In his most recent column, Robert Novak suggests that Mike Huckabee and his supporters, despite their announcements of support for John McCain, are secretly hoping that McCain loses in November so that Huckabee can run again in 2012:

[R]eports out of the evangelical community dispute Huckabee's support. One experienced, credible activist in Christian politics who would not let his name be used told me Huckabee in personal conversation with him embraced the concept that an Obama presidency might be what the American people deserve. That fits what has largely been a fringe position among evangelicals that the pain of an Obama presidency is in keeping with the Bible's prophecy.

Novak admits that Huckabee denies these allegations, but that didn't stop him from writing his column anyway, which prompted Huckabee to write his own blog post on his HuckPAC website calling the anonymous sources behind Novak's column liars and challenging them to either put up or shut up:

On another note, I was very disturbed by a column by Robert Novak that quoted some “anonymous source” in saying that while I strongly supported Senator McCain, I thought that maybe America “deserves Obama,” as if to say that I secretly hoped he won.

Where do people dream up this stuff? Forget the “anonymous” sources—there’s nothing anonymous about my stand and here it is. We don’t “deserve” Obama—we DESERVE a President with the character, convictions, experience, and wisdom to see the problems we face and try to lead us to solve them. We deserve a President who truly loves this country and from whom there is no doubt as to his respect for Faith, Family, and the kind of Freedom that those before us have given their lives to pass on to us. John McCain meets that criteria and that’s why I am campaigning for him and not hoping for Obama. The nonsense that I want Obama to win this year so I can run in 2012 is absurd. I love my country more than my own ambition. So let the record and truth be clear. And let the “anonymous” sources either show the courage to stand up and be accountable for their comments or shut up and leave commentary to people who aren’t afraid of their own shadow.

Huckabee's response was certainly vehement and swift ... do you suppose this has anything to do with that?

Mike Huckabee, the former governor of Arkansas and defeated contender for the GOP presidential nomination, is currently at the top of John McCain's short list for a running mate. At least that's the word from a top McCain fundraiser and longtime Republican moneyman who has spoken to McCain's inner circle.

Huckabee Not The Forgiving Type

A while back, we noted that Mike Huckabee had been mending fences with the likes of The Club for Growth and the Family Research Council despite the fact that the groups had been cool, if not outright hostile, to his presidential aspirations.  

While Huckabee may be trying to make nice with some of the DC powerbrokers, it doesn’t look like he is quite as forgiving of those who crossed him back in Arkansas.  

Back when his campaign was starting to pick up steam, former Republican state representative Randy Minton was among those who started showing up in the press bad-mouthing Huckabee to anyone who would listen:

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, suddenly a serious candidate for the Republican presidential nomination, is “the biggest RINO I know,” according to former state Rep. Randy Minton.

“I call (Huckabee) a pro-life, pro-gun liberal,” says Minton, who says he himself belongs to “the Re-publican wing of the Republican Party.”

Minton says he is philosophically aligned with the anti-tax Club for Growth, which has begun running political ads attacking Huckabee as “Tax Hike Mike.”

“He says he’s pro-family. If you’re raising taxes on the families of Arkansas, causing wives to go out and get jobs to make ends meet, that’s not pro-family,” Minton said.

Minton was so opposed to the prospect of a Huckabee presidency that he even traveled to Iowa, on Ron Paul’s dime, to campaign against him:

Earlier this week, a group of Arkansans went to Iowa for three days of media appearances to lobby against Huckabee. Randy Minton, a former state legislator and chairman of the conservative Eagle Forum, was one of these new Travelers. “I will be going across the state raising awareness [of Huckabee's record],” said Minton before the trip. He cited Huckabee's record of raising taxes and his liberal use of pardons as two issues he planned to discuss.

Huckabee’s campaign eventually faltered and folded and Huckabee re-emerged as the head of a new PAC and, wouldn’t you know it, now that Minton has decided to run for a House seat in Arkansas, HuckPAC has likewise decided to back his opponent:

Despite his new status as national political celebrity, Huckabee is backing Minton's opponent in a very local legislative race.

Davy Carter of Cabot is Minton's GOP opponent for the House District 48 seat in the May 20 Republican primary. Sarah Huckabee, the former governor's daughter and executive director of HuckPAC, a newly created political action committee, confirmed Friday that her father is supporting Carter, and that the PAC would be supporting him, as well.

Minton did what he could to ensure that Huckabee’s candidacy went down in defeat and it looks like Huckabee has decided to return the favor.

Dusting Off the Dirty Playbook

It looks like the man responsible for 1988’s infamous Willie Horton ad is back and has his sights set on Barack Obama:

Starting Tuesday, a group of conservative activists led by Floyd Brown, author of the famous Willie Horton ad used so effectively against Michael Dukakis in 1988, will begin a campaign to tar Obama as weak on crime and terrorism, a strategy that aims to upend Obama's relatively strong reputation among Republican voters.

Brown's new ad focuses on a 2001 vote by Obama in the Illinois Senate to oppose a bill that would have expanded the use of the death penalty if the perpetrator of a crime belonged to a gang. The links between Obama's vote on that issue and the deaths of three Chicago resident's are indirect and tenuous, as is the further connection the ad draws between the issue of Obama's position on the death penalty and the issue of international terrorism.

Time reports that the ads will be funded by a PAC called the National Campaign Fund “which had $14,027 in the bank at the end of March,” which probably explains why Brown is focused on creating the “most Internet-intensive effort for an ad debut ever” and hoping to gin up free media coverage to make up for the ad’s lack of funding, much like Mike Huckabee did, or at least tried to do, with his campaign ads (it is worth noting that Ari Berman of the "The Nation" reports that Brown's efforts are being "run by Bruce Hawkins, a former field organizer for Pat Buchanan and Pat Robertson who recently worked for Mike Huckabee in Iowa.")

And speaking of free advertising, it looks like a pastor in South Carolina is trying make a name for himself by suggesting that Obama might secretly be Muslim:

ObamaChurch.gifPastor Roger Byrd of Jonesville Church of God put the sign up which reads "Obama Osama humm are they brothers?"

Pastor Byrd says the sign is not meant to be racial or political but rather to make people think. "His name is so close to Osama, I have a feeling he might be Islamic therefore he doesn't recognize Christ," Pastor Byrd said.

Of course the ad is not political and was merely designed to make people think … that Obama is a Muslim and possible a terrorist.

Huckabee: No Hard Feelings

Mike Huckabee’s decision to sign on with an entertainment talent agency might suggest he intends to take his act to late-night television, but in the meantime, he’s shoring up his political base.

First, Huckabee’s breathlessly promoted announcement was simply the formation of a PAC—pretty standard stuff for a politician. Likewise, it’s hardly a shock to hear he’s going to be campaigning for John McCain.

But it was a big surprise to see Huckabee grant a very friendly interview to the Club for Growth, an anti-tax attack group that started off early and aggressively running TV ads against Huckabee in Iowa. The candidate bit back over the last year, scandalizing conservative fusionists by calling the group “the Club for Greed.” Now, here he is chatting about vice-presidential picks for a Club for Growth web video.

And he’s scheduled to do a fundraiser for the Family Policy Institute of Washington, a state affiliate of James Dobson’s Focus on the Family. He’ll be appearing alongside Family Research Council President Tony Perkins. Dobson and Perkins were among the Religious Right “political bosses” who Huckabee felt snubbed him in favor of candidates like Mitt Romney and Fred Thompson—in fact, just a few weeks ago, Huckabee was blaming them for sinking his campaign:

Mike Huckabee can't definitively explain why he couldn't win the Republican presidential nomination, but he thinks the desire of Christian leaders to be "kingmakers," media coverage and Mother Nature all had something to do with it.

"Rank-and-file evangelicals supported me strongly, but a lot of the leadership did not," the former Arkansas governor says. "Let's face it, if you're not going to be king, the next best thing is to be the kingmaker. And if the person gets there without you, you become less relevant."

Huckabee may be looking at another presidential run in 2012, or he may try to parlay his mailing list into a career as a Religious Right “political boss” himself, but in either case, it appears he’s taking a page from McCain’s post-2000 playbook: find your enemies and suck up to them.

Huck PAC is Born

Mike Huckabee launched a new PAC today: "The PAC website launched today along with Huckabee's announcement will feature candidates that Huckabee is supporting, help raise money for candidates who share the same convictions as Huckabee, and allow supporters to post ideas and continue to be a part of Huckabee's national network."

An Armey of One

Just last week we were fondly reminiscing about the battle that raged for several weeks back in 2006 between Dick Armey and James Dobson that, in many ways, embodied the tensions that existed, and continue to exist, between the economic and social conservative wings of the Republican base.

While that particular clash eventually subsided, the underlying issues did not go away and they seem to have resurfaced in recent weeks, again thanks to Armey's seemingly unprovoked attack on the Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins over the latter's suggestion that John McCain ought to announce that he will appoint a "family czar" in order to appease the so-called "Values Voters" FRC and the like claim to represent.

Not surprisingly, Armey thinks the idea is idiotic and is not shy about saying so:

Think about that for a moment: A federal bureaucrat to oversee families. I'm sure Perkins would find a way to claim he's just there to give America's families a helping hand, that he's promoting our country's precious faith and values. But as Ronald Reagan said, the most frightening words in the English language are, "I'm from the government. I'm here to help." If there's anything our families don't need, it is Washington mucking around in their lives. Could anyone imagine a less conservative idea?

There are all sorts of problems with Perkins' notion, but the biggest one right now is that no one even knows for sure what a family czar would actually do.  Every time Perkins has brought it up, he's brushed quickly over the topic, as if he doesn't want to discuss what it means. That's probably because it is a political stunt and not a serious policy idea.

Armey goes on to basically say that Perkins and his allies are power hungry and that he’s not even sure that Perkins ought to be claiming to be a conservative and cites Perkins’ support of Mike Huckabee as evidence:

[Perkins threw] his support behind Mike Huckabee, a candidate whose conservative credentials were anything but solid. By supporting a politician who governed in large part by taxing, regulating, and moralizing, he made his own declarations of conservatism subject to doubt.

It is not everyday that we come to the defense of Tony Perkins but in this case, it is simply untrue that Perkins ever supported Huckabee.  In fact, Perkins’ repeatedly pledged neutrality on the GOP primary race, though there was plenty of speculation that he preferred Mitt Romney, and his failure to back Huckabee was a constant source of irritation to the Huckabee campaign.

For his part, Perkins himself doesn’t seem particularly fazed by Armey’s attack, dismissing him as “grumpy” and saying that Armey’s “disregard for the importance of strong families is shocking.”    

It is safe to say that the relationship between Armey and the Religious Right has undergone something of a transformation since he left office.  His relationship with the FRC seems especially strained and it is difficult to imagine that they’ll ever be able to get back to the good old days when Armey “met with us every single week. His staff is available to us when we go there, so it has been a close relationship. Over the years he has been the defender of the family."

Huckabee's Got Talent

From CNN: "Former Republican presidential contender Mike Huckabee has signed a contract with Creative Artists Agency in Los Angeles, daughter and senior advisor Sarah Huckabee tells CNN ... Huckabee follows former rival Fred Thompson’s lead by inking a post-campaign deal with a talent agency. But unlike the former Tennessee senator, this is Huckabee’s first official foray into show business."

Huckabee Gets No Love From the Right

When he was running for president, Mike Huckabee made no secret of his displeasure with the current leadership of the Religious Right, regularly chiding them for refusing to support his candidacy.  It was, at least in part, because of their glaring lack of support that Huckabee’s campaign eventually folded, forcing him to drop-out of the race and it looks as if Huckabee is not particularly prepared to let bygones be bygones:

Mike Huckabee can't definitively explain why he couldn't win the Republican presidential nomination, but he thinks the desire of Christian leaders to be "kingmakers," media coverage and Mother Nature all had something to do with it.

"Rank-and-file evangelicals supported me strongly, but a lot of the leadership did not," the former Arkansas governor says. "Let's face it, if you're not going to be king, the next best thing is to be the kingmaker. And if the person gets there without you, you become less relevant."

Religious broadcaster Pat Robertson backed Rudolph W. Giuliani; American Value President and former presidential hopeful Gary Bauer endorsed Sen. John McCain; and Family Research Council President Tony Perkins remained neutral, even as Mr. Huckabee was wowing their supporters and winning the values voter straw polls they organized.

Huckabee seems particularly galled by Religious Right’s allegations that he was weak on foreign policy issues and didn’t fully comprehend to threat posed to this country by “Islamo-fascism,” which he says was nonsense since he was the only one who really understood the true nature of the threat:

 

"I was the one person who talked about this being a theological war, not just a geopolitical war [because] it was unlike a traditional war over borders and boundaries," he says.

 

While Huckabee remains bitter over his inability to win over the Right’s current leadership, it appears as if various other right-wing outsiders are equally bitter over the prospect of having to support John McCain and are considering defecting to the Constitution Party:

[I]is 2008 the year when a third-party candidate would find some traction among those disaffected by the abortion, marriage and national security stances found in the records of the three front-runners left in the race?

Charles Lewis, national outreach director for Christian Exodus, is one of those behind the launch of the new Save America Summit website, and believes it's not only time, it's overdue.

Among those participating in this third-party-seeking Save America Summit are Flip Benham, Wiley Drake, Bill Federer, Gordon Klingenschmitt, Howard Phillips, Chris Simcox, as well as representatives of organizations such as Gun Owners of America, the Council for National Policy, and Stop the ACLU and others who are convinced that McCain, Obama, and Clinton all plan "an EU-style unification of America with socialist Canada and Mexico during the next administration."

Sadly for Huckabee, he can't seem to get any love from these right-wing activists either, since they seem to have already narrowed down their choices for president to four people: Alan Keyes, Roy Moore, Jerome Corsi, and former Sen. Bob Smith.

If You Can't Beat 'Em, Pretend to Join 'Em

With the passing of right-wing luminaries such as Jerry Falwell and D. James Kennedy in recent months, coupled with the aging of many of the Right’s traditional leaders, the movement itself appears to be in flux and some are getting worried about just what will become of it in the future.  Just last week, James Dobson voiced these concerns while addressing the National Religious Broadcasters Convention:

“It causes me to wonder who will be left to carry the banner when this generation of leaders is gone. The question is, will the younger generation heed the call? Who will defend the unborn child in the years to come? Who will plead for the Terri Schiavos of the world? Who’s going to fight for the institution of marriage, which is on the ropes today.”

The emerging conventional wisdom is that the Religious Right is on the verge of being replaced by a “new evangelical” movement that shares the old-guard’s opposition to gays and abortion, but also cares about issues like poverty and the environment.  The standard-bearer of this “new breed” is Mike Huckabee who, as he puts it, drinks “a different kind of Jesus juice” than the traditional leaders and routinely says things like this

I don’t see [the right-wing movement] going into decline. I see it going into a maturing process. I think the issues are going to broaden and force Evangelicals to expand their horizons of concerns to poverty, disease, issues of education and homelessness. These are issues that I think are going to become increasingly important along with the environment as part of an overall focus that you’re going to see from - I would use a broader term - values voters - that would include not only Evangelicals but also Catholics and conservative Jewish voters as well.

Of course, just because a bunch of young upstarts think that caring about the environment is important doesn’t mean that the old-guard has any interest in broadening their agenda.  As we noted last year, when the National Association of Evangelicals started to voice concerns about the environment and global warming, right-wing stalwarts like Dobson, Tony Perkins, Don Wildmon, Gary Bauer, Rick Scarborough, and Paul Weyrich dashed off an angry letter essentially demanding that the NAE fire its own Vice President over it.

The NAE didn’t back down, but the Right didn’t give up.  Instead, they formed their own organization, the American Environmental Coalition, and now seek "to bring balance to the debate by being an alternative source of reliable information to Americans who seek the best way forward for our country.” 

Fighting It Out on the Pages of WND

Just because Mike Huckabee has dropped out of the presidential race doesn’t mean Janet Folger is done campaigning for him, penning an open letter to John McCain urging him to tap Huckabee as his VP:

I'm not telling you whom to pick, but if you want the vice presidential candidate who in addition to winning the "must win" states in the primary, who has the best cost/vote ratio, who has proven he can energize the base of the party, who defended (not attacked) you even before you won the nomination, who is honest, consistent and according to Rasmussen, has the least opposition among American voters, Mike Huckabee is your guy.

Ask him, I'm sure he would be honored to be your vice president, and I'm sure millions more would be honored to vote for you if you do.

While Folger has already made peace with her principles by deciding to throw her support behind McCain, her one-time comrade-in-arms Gordon Klingenschmitt is having none of it, taking to the pages of WorldNetDaily to chastise Folger for selling out:

In a recent WND column, Janet Folger begs social conservatives to vote for John McCain. She believes McCain will rescue "most everyone" from our political "burning building" – when in fact McCain has already locked arms with the Kennedys, Feingolds and liberal Democrats to keep social conservatives "out" of politics while they burn our constitutional republic to the ground.

McCain not only refused to participate in Janet Folger's Values Voter Presidential Debate, he has repeatedly distanced himself from religious groups. He won the Republican nomination without faith-based voters. So, if he wins the White House, will he suddenly listen to our pleas? No chance! Only by treating ourselves with respect can we demand respect from others. Have we no dignity?

Klingenschmitt and Folger have a long history together, as she was one of his staunchest defenders when he was fighting to keep his job as a Chaplain in the Navy, with Folger regularly citing Klingenschmitt’s legal fight as evidence of the on-going “criminalization of Christianity."

After being discharged from the Navy, Klingenschmitt linked up with Vision America’s Rick Scarborough and Alan Keyes for their “70 Weeks To Save America Crusade” and then quickly lined up to support Keyes’ own vanity run for President (he’s currently listed at the top of the “Honor Roll” on Keyes’ website for his efforts to secure 104 pledges to support his campaign.)  

But it looks as if now Klingenschmitt and Folger are on the outs.  In fact, it looks like Klingenschmitt is on the outs with the Republican Party altogether, announcing that Keyes is reportedly leaving the GOP and that he intends to follow suit so that he may “continue to support Dr. Keyes wherever he leads our Exodus”:

Abandon McCain's sinking ship! Man your lifeboats! I cannot violate my conscience in November. I'll make a statement with my vote, instead of wasting it on Clinton, Obama or McCain. Faith-minded people cannot tolerate evil, whatever its degree, since Christ taught us, "Be ye perfect even as your heavenly Father is perfect." Show some self-respect and have faith in God. America needs principled leaders who have borne the battle for liberty and are unashamed of the wounds received in doing so. I'll vote for Alan Keyes, writing in his name if necessary. Join us, and someday you'll stand before God with your head held high, blameless and unashamed of your vote.

The Confusing Rick Scarborough

Say what you want about Vision America’s Rick Scarborough, but when the man sets his mind to something, he sticks with it … at least until he’s had a chance to think about it and then changes course.  

From his inability to decide whether he liked Alexandra Pelosi's documentary “Friends of God” to his ill-fated and seemingly defunct “70 Weeks to Save America Crusade,”  Scarborough has a remarkable ability to announce grand plans one week only to watch them quickly collapse and to make bold declarations only to turn around a short time later and say the exact opposite.

For example, as part of his “70 Weeks" campaign, Scarborough planned on traveling Iowa in order to generate support for Mike Huckabee but had to reevaluate once his partner, Alan Keyes, decided to run for President.  So then Scarborough scrambled to put together a different tour with fellow Huckabee-supporter Janet Folger, but then that folded due to mechanical and weather problems.  

While many of the problems plaguing Scarborough’s operations appear to be beyond his control, his efforts to make an impact heading into November probably aren’t being helped by his tendency to constantly change his mind about just what those efforts ought to entail.

Back when the pundits were declaring Rudy Giuliani a lock for the Republican nomination, Scarborough was having none of it, declaring

And we should be ready to go outside the Republican Party if it refuses to give us such a candidate. Christians must always remember that we are followers of Christ, not pawns of a party which often wants to dance with us before the election but then ditches us right after the final vote count.

But then, when his allies on the Right started to suggest that they might actually ditch the GOP, Scarborough flipped and began chastising them, telling them to “Grow UP!!!”:

I for one do not intend to sit idly by and allow evil to triumph because good men choose to do nothing--or worse, do the wrong thing. I have often said in speeches to churches, “the only thing worse than not voting, is voting without a clue as to what you are voting for.” When it comes time for the ‘08 elections, we must be armed with truth and determined to vote our values. If enough of us do that, we will get a president who will make the right choice when it comes to nominating judges. In ’08, it’s all about the judges! … We may have to hold our nose as we vote in ‘08, but we must and we will vote.

But then, a short while later, Scarborough changed his mind again, proclaiming that his work was not about “winning elections. It’s about honoring Christ”:

“I am not going to cast a sacred vote granted to me by the blood of millions of God-fearing Americans who died on the fields of battle for freedom, for a candidate who says it’s O.K. to kill the unborn,” he said. “I just can’t.”

Shortly thereafter Scarborough signed on with Huckabee’s campaign, and while his efforts in Iowa didn’t quite pan out as planned, he did manage to stump with the candidate in Texas.  But then Huckabee dropped out of the race and Scarborough seemed to have dropped off the radar.  

But today he reappeared to assure us that his position regarding supporting the Republican nominee has now morphed from won’t, to will, to back to won’t, to finally back to will:

My message from now till the election will be--we have a two party system in America for better or worse.  Voting third party in my estimation is a waste of your vote, and we must never forget, every vote is two votes.  You are voting for someone and you are not voting for someone else.  That means that when you vote for someone you know cannot possibly win, you are adding strength to someone who will win and you may be withholding a vote for someone who could have won.

Politics is not church.  In church we search for doctrinal purity as best we understand it, but in politics compromise is often the reasonable solution short of war or division. It is better to get 80 percent of what you desire than to get zero percent--which is what you get when you don't participate or you participate ignorantly.

I cannot tell you how to vote, but I urge you to vote.  I urge you to be mindful that this is still a two party system and you and I must vote for the candidates and the party that best represent our values.  The time to discuss the pros and cons of a third party effort is on November 5th, right after the election, when there is time to actually make a difference.  I pledge to be at that meeting if it’s called, as it appears that both major parties no longer see conservative Christian as an asset--beyond getting their vote.

Do not lose sight of the goals which got us into this arena to start with: to end abortions in America in our lifetime; preserve marriage as the Bible defines it; preserve freedom by saving America as a sovereign and free nation; and increase the Kingdom of God on earth by being lights that shine in the midst of a crooked generation.

I am traveling every day to make that message known.  Later today, I will be speaking in Denver, Colorado.  Am I happy with the current field of candidates? Absolutely not!  But am I going to sit home and sulk?  Absolutely not!  Beyond the presidency there are U.S. Senate seats, U.S. House seats, state elections and judges to consider, and when the church stays home or acts foolishly everyone loses.

Scarborough prides himself on being a “Christocrat” who is not beholden to the Republican Party.  And nothing demonstrates that commitment to principle like incessantly waffling on whether or not to continue to support the GOP, and then deciding to do so while vaguely threatening to consider a third party option … but only, of course, after the election is over.  

Slow and Steady

Slowly but surely, John McCain has been racking up endorsements from Religious Right leaders.  Aside from scoring big with the likes of John Hagee and Rod Parsely, McCain has also been securing endorsements from figures like Gary Bauer and even Janet Folger.  

At the same time, he is busy conducting outreach to many others, addressing the Council for National Policy and having some surrogates drop hints that he’d love the opportunity meet with James Dobson while sending out others to try and win over people like Tony Perkins.

And while the efforts appear to be paying off, it seems as if McCain still has a lot of work ahead of him:

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) must work hard to reach out to evangelical voters to get them “excited” about his candidacy, a leading social conservative figure said Wednesday.

Family Research Council President Tony Perkins said a number of the presumptive GOP presidential nominee’s policies and actions in the Senate have rubbed socially conservative evangelical voters the wrong way, and he will need them and their “enthusiasm” to win the White House.

“It’s not automatic,” Perkins said.

Perkins suggested several approaches McCain can take to woo a crowd that might feel dissatisfied after supporting former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and watching him drop out of the race.

McCain should “hold the Bush line” on banning federal funding for stem cell research, announce that he will appoint a “family czar” to show his commitment to families and be more vocal about his lifelong record opposing abortion rights, Perkins said.

“He’s never led on those issues, and he’s never seemed comfortable talking about those issues,” Perkins said.

But Perkins said McCain has a solid voting record on issues that are dear to socially conservative evangelical voters, and he can use that record as a “foundation” to reach out to them.

“I don’t think that that’s too big a stretch for him, but he’s going to have to work at it,” Perkins said.

Undaunted by the task head, the McCain campaign appears ready to ramp up its effort and fully intends to spend a lot of time wooing them in the months ahead:

Sen. John McCain will be spending a lot of face time in the coming months with top conservative leaders, in an effort to win them over one-by-one, top McCain strategist Charlie Black tells Newsmax.

“You have to go get the conservative leaders who have a following one at a time. [McCain] has been doing for several months, and has some very prominent conservatives on board now… We’re taking them one at a time,” Black told Newsmax this week.

Janet Folger: Sheep

For the last several months, Janet Folger dedicated her life to helping Mike Huckabee try to secure the Republican presidential nomination, hosting the Values Voter Debate where she anointed Huckabee the "David among Jesse’s sons," serving as co-chair of his Faith and Values Coalition, praying for bad weather to keep voter turnout down, and even launching a front-group to attack Mitt Romney and John McCain. All along she warned that Huckabee was the only acceptable candidate in the race and the only one who could keep the Right out of prison while declaring that McCain was unacceptable because he:
Pushed "campaign finance reform" that would put a gag rule on citizen groups like Wisconsin Right to Life, who McCain sued when they suggested people actually contact their senators to let them know how they felt about the filibuster on judicial nominees. He was also one of the gang of 14 who kept the filibuster alive. He also voted against the Marriage Protection Amendment.
Folger made clear that only "sheep" would support McCain, while the principled "shepherds" were intent on backing Huckabee:
We heard the mantra, "A vote for Huckabee is a vote for McCain!" Interestingly, the same people who said that are now saying, "Don't vote for Huckabee. Vote for McCain!" Really? Support the guy who wants to force us to fund medical experimentation on human beings like Joshua and Rachel Hubbard – who were themselves once frozen embryos. Real human beings. Just older than they were when they were shoved in a freezer and vulnerable to policies like those of Sen. John McCain. Just because someone shoves children in the freezer doesn't mean they're no longer human beings in need of adoption. "Thou shalt not kill" doesn't say "unless they're really small and discarded by people who don't want them." If you found a kid locked in a closet, would you justify performing medical experiments on him before taking his life because he "was going to die if nobody let him out of that closet anyway?" They are rallying to the very guy who wanted a two-month gag rule prior to an election on all of us who want to inform people about what Congress may be doing – like forming a gang (of 14, for example) to block good judicial nominees. Ann Gimenez, whose husband Bishop John Gimenez, a true Christian leader who just went on to his reward, said, "This is not the time to lose our moral compass. Take a stand for righteousness, and don't deviate from it." Good advice. 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.
Well, now that McCain has secured the nomination and Huckabee has dropped out, Folger has suddenly abandoned all her talk of sheep and shepherds and declared that the prudent, principled thing to do is to vote for John McCain:

Huckabee Hears a Who

Mike Huckabee endorsed the Colorado egg-as-person amendment, as that effort seeks to capitalize on upcoming Dr. Seuss film. More on that amendment here.

Huckabee Hopes To Lure McCain With Debate

For the last few days, Mike Huckabee has been trying to pressure John McCain into one last debate as he tries to make one last stand in the Republican primary, going so far as to officially challenge McCain to a “Lincoln Douglas-style debate":

“Now that the race for the Republican nomination is down to just the two of us, I believe this is the time for a real discussion about our vision for the future of this great country,” Huckabee wrote in the letter to Sen. McCain.  “I encourage you to join me in a Lincoln Douglas-style debate so that voters can better understand our views on critical issues such as health care, education, energy independence, terrorism and national security.”

When McCain said that wasn’t going to happen, Huckabee upped the pressure, announcing that he had agreed to participate in a “Values Voter Presidential Debate” next week, provided that McCain joined him:

Former Arkansas Governor and Presidential Candidate Mike Huckabee accepted an invitation to participate in a Values Voter Presidential Debate to be held on Monday, March 3, 2008.  Huckabee received the invitation on Wednesday, February 27, for the debate which would also include Senator John McCain, Congressman Ron Paul. [sic]

"I look forward to discussing the issues that are important to the people of America such as health care, education, energy independence, terrorism and national security," Huckabee wrote in his letter of acceptance.  "I will clear my schedule to make time for this important debate, provided Sen. McCain participates, otherwise we will keep our current campaign schedule."

On Tuesday, Huckabee challenged Sen. McCain to a Lincoln- Douglas Style debate, but has yet to receive an acceptance from Sen. McCain.

The Values Voter debate is scheduled to be held at the Marriott Riverwalk, 711 E. Riverwalk St. in San Antonio, Tex.

Will McCain take the bait?  Not if he is smart. 

So far, the only mention of this “Values Voter Presidential Debate” is contained in Huckabee’s press release, but it is presumably being organized by the same people who put on the last Values Voter Presidential Debate, which in many ways catapulted Huckabee from a second-tier no-name into a serious candidate, thanks mainly to the fact that all the actual front-runners refused to appear.

Of course, that didn’t stop the bevy of right-wing activists from criticizing the no-shows, McCain included, via pointed questions addressed to empty podiums:

The entire debate was the brainchild of Janet Folger, who personally invited the choir that performed their infamous rendition of “Why Should God Bless America?” and has since gone on to serve as co-chair of Huckabee’s Faith and Family Values Coalition.  Recently, she’s been traveling with his campaign in Ohio, introducing him at events and praying that a blizzard strikes the state in order to depress turnout of McCain supporters.  In between these official campaign duties, Folger has also been busy working with her front-group, RoeGone.org, producing ads blasting McCain.  

It is no wonder that Huckabee would eagerly jump at the chance to participate in one last debate, especially one organized by one of his most vocal supporters and his rival’s most vocal critics.  But why Huckabee thinks McCain would be willing to walk into such an ambush completely defies explanation.  

Huckabee’s Last Stand

While Mike Huckabee prepares for what may be his final stand in Texas, John McCain continues to make in-roads with some of the Religious Right leaders who purport to represent the values that Huckabee seeks to give voice to.

For instance, McCain recently received the endorsement of Lou Sheldon of the Traditional Values Coalition, a one-time Romney backer, is getting advice from one-time Fred Thompson supporter Richard Land, and has Sen. Sam Brownback out there wooing others on his behalf:

Brownback said his task remains crucial, even as the departure of other contenders has cleared the way for McCain to become the Republican party’s nominee. Many evangelical voters are still attracted to former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and McCain cannot risk alienating a group that makes up about a third of the conservative voter base.

Earlier this month, Brownback met with Gary Bauer after the conservative Christian power broker endorsed McCain to discuss “what else might be done” to help McCain with social conservatives. He’s also had similar conversations with Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, and Frank Pavone, head of the anti-abortion group Priests for Life.  

But that doesn’t mean that Huckabee is willing to throw in the towel or go quietly.  In fact, he seems to be making a last-ditch effort to highlight what he perceives as the key difference between himself and McCain by comparing abortion to slavery after meeting with James Dobson, throwing his support behind Colorado’s “egg as a person” constitutional Human Life Amendment, and daring McCain to debate him on the issues.

And while Huckabee is busy getting pastors involved in his efforts in Texas, he’s also campaigning in Ohio where he is being introduced by Janet Folger, who continues to release anti-McCain ads via her “RoeGone.org” front group (or, as her website mistakenly spells it, “John McCaine.”)  

For her part, Folger has picked up on Huckabee’s hope for a brokered convention by saying that “Gov. Mike Huckabee doesn't need to reach 1,191 delegates to win the nomination – all he has to do is keep John McCain from doing so.”  In fact, a brokered convention seems to be becoming the Huckabee campaign’s main goal

Huckabee's press secretary Alice Stewart said he is in the race for the long haul. "The race isn't over until someone receives 1,191 delegates, and no one has received that yet," Stewart said. "If he were to drop out he would basically be telling all those people in Ohio, Texas, Rhode Island, North Carolina and all the states that haven't had their primaries or caucuses yet that their votes don't matter. It's certainly possible to bring this all the way to a brokered convention and have it decided in Minneapolis."

According to a CNN news scorecard McCain has 971 delegates, Mitt Romney — who dropped out of the race — holds 286 delegates, Huckabee has 233 and Ron Paul holds 16 delegates. As of Feb. 19, the report showed 1,506 Republican delegates have declared their presidential preference, which leaves 874 up for grabs.

Lori Viars, a Warren County delegate and Huckabee supporter, said she likes her man's chances at a convention showdown because she believes delegates who currently support Romney will cross over to Huckabee.

While it is understandable that at this point in the primaries, the Huckabee campaign would have little choice but to pin its hopes on simply preventing McCain from securing the required number of delegates, what makes them think that, were they to head into Minneapolis, a brokered GOP convention would choose Huckabee as the nominee?  

After all, if Huckabee was popular enough among the GOP insiders who make up the convention, he wouldn’t have had to run his entire campaign whining about why they won’t support him and complaining about conspiracies.  In fact, if Huckabee could win the support of the Republican Party’s rank-and-file, he wouldn’t be getting crushed in the delegate count in the first place.  

And considering that Huckabee served as the chief anti-Romney attack dog, it is highly unlikely that his delegates at the convention would suddenly decide to support the one candidate whose primary role in the race seemed to be to undermine Romney’s electoral chances at every turn.

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Mike Huckabee Posts Archive

Brian Tashman, Tuesday 01/25/2011, 10:59am
Michele Bachmann SOTU: Plans to give her own State of the Union Response to a Tea Party Express rally, even though Wisconsin Rep. Jim Ryan is the official Republican speaker (Star Tribune, 1/24). History: Maintains that skin color didn’t matter in early America at an Iowans for Tax Reform event (TPM, 1/24). Religious Right: Addressed the “March for Life” Rose Dinner (Politico, 1/24). Iowa: “Encouraged” by reception at Iowa events (Des Moines Register, 1/22). Religious Right: Set to attend a meeting of Iowa’s The Family Leader, led by Bob Vander Plaats... MORE >
Kyle Mantyla, Friday 01/21/2011, 6:34pm
Mat Staver says Americans United is "out to literally destroy America." Rudy Giuliani is "absolutely" thinking about running again in 2012. Mike Huckabee will wait until at least the summer before making a decision about running in 2012. The Thomas More Law Center has a rather unique reason for suing over the government bailout of AIG. Finally, Sen. Jim DeMint joins the Religious Right's boycott of CPAC. MORE >
Brian Tashman, Thursday 01/20/2011, 2:46pm
After Congressman Mike Pence (R-IN) said he would decide on his election plans by the end of January, the movement to recruit him into the presidential race has moved into high gear. The recently-formed American President Committee launched a “Draft Pence” campaign and a group of Republican legislators from the critical primary state of South Carolina have organized a similar effort to lure the Indiana Congressman into a presidential run. Pence, who won the Family Research Council’s Values Voter Summit straw poll, has recently been spearheading anti-choice legislation and... MORE >
Brian Tashman, Thursday 01/20/2011, 2:46pm
After Congressman Mike Pence (R-IN) said he would decide on his election plans by the end of January, the movement to recruit him into the presidential race has moved into high gear. The recently-formed American President Committee launched a “Draft Pence” campaign and a group of Republican legislators from the critical primary state of South Carolina have organized a similar effort to lure the Indiana Congressman into a presidential run. Pence, who won the Family Research Council’s Values Voter Summit straw poll, has recently been spearheading anti-choice legislation and... MORE >
Brian Tashman, Tuesday 01/18/2011, 10:47am
Michele Bachmann GOP: Scheduled to address Montana GOP's Lincoln/Reagan Dinner on Feb 5 (Politico, 1/17). Iowa: Conservatives in Iowa excited about Bachmann's appearance at Iowans for Tax Relief event this week (Minnesota Public Radio, 1/17). Religious Right: Ultraconservative writer Joseph Farah praises potential Bachmann bid (WND, 1/11). Haley Barbour Immigration: Draconian Arizona-style law on immigrant rights to be considered by the Mississippi state legislature (Fox News, 1/17). 2012: Says he won't make a decision about a presidential run until the spring (WSJ, 1/14). John Bolton... MORE >
Brian Tashman, Tuesday 01/18/2011, 10:47am
Michele Bachmann GOP: Scheduled to address Montana GOP's Lincoln/Reagan Dinner on Feb 5 (Politico, 1/17). Iowa: Conservatives in Iowa excited about Bachmann's appearance at Iowans for Tax Relief event this week (Minnesota Public Radio, 1/17). Religious Right: Ultraconservative writer Joseph Farah praises potential Bachmann bid (WND, 1/11). Haley Barbour Immigration: Draconian Arizona-style law on immigrant rights to be considered by the Mississippi state legislature (Fox News, 1/17). 2012: Says he won't make a decision about a presidential run until the spring (WSJ, 1/14). John Bolton... MORE >
Brian Tashman, Wednesday 01/12/2011, 6:36pm
Businessman, right-wing activist and Tea Party favorite Herman Cain establishes a presidential exploratory committee. Mike Huckabee already has problems with the Tea Party. Rep. Peter King (R-NY) and conspiracy theorist Frank Gaffney get together to spew anti-Muslim diatribes. After the Tucson shooting, an Arizona Republican District Chairman opposed by the Tea Party resigned, saying, “I don’t want to take a bullet for anyone.” North Carolina State Rep. Larry Brown wants to end government funding for treating people with HIV since they’re... MORE >
Brian Tashman, Tuesday 01/11/2011, 10:28am
Michele Bachmann PAC: Vast majority of MICHELE PAC money went to Iowa politicians or PACs (National Journal, 1/10). Religious Right: Potential 2012 bid wins plaudits from Religious Right activists (RWW, 1/10). Iowa: Speaks to Iowans for Tax Relief PAC in Des Moines on 1/21 (Iowans for Tax Relief PAC, 1/7). Mitch Daniels Indiana: Makes 7th State of the State address with emphasis on education (South Bend Tribune, 1/11). CPAC: To address the Conservative Political Action Conference along with other 2012 prospects (Politico, 1/6). Newt Gingrich Religious Right: Invited to speak at the... MORE >