The Nonpartisan Values Voters

I just wrote a post about the traditional claim from Religious Right leaders and activists that their votes are beholden to God and not tied to any one particular party.  It's an obvious fraud, as demonstrated by the fact that they'd rather vote for Satan than a Democrat, but it's what they have to say to convince themselves that they are somehow more principled than your run-of-the-mill partisan voter.

In my last post, I didn't provide any concrete examples of this contradiction because it is frankly so prevalent that I didn't think it really needed any.  But then I came across this article that perfectly sums up exactly what I was taking about:

From wall to wall, each pew was full on the Sunday before Election Day at Thomas Road Baptist Church.

“It is Election Day on Tuesday. We as Christians and we as Americans- this is something that we have been paying attention to,” said Pastor Jonathan Falwell.

Falwell introduced a friend, former Arkansas Governor, Mike Huckabee – who the pastor previously endorsed. Huckabee, known as a conservative Republican, says he wants people to vote Christian.

“I would never use a pulpit of the church to try to tell people to vote Democrat or Republican or which candidate. That’s something they have to decide on their own conscience. But I never would hesitate to say vote on your principles,” Huckabee said.

He said parties are not as important and church members we talked to agree.

“Dr. Fallwell [says] don’t vote Republican, don’t vote Democrat, vote Christian. That’s how I voted,” said Linley Harrison.

If you just read that part, you'd think there might actually be something to this right-wing claim that they vote on their Christian principles regardless of party affiliation.  But then you read the rest of the article and find out that the church was passing out pro-McCain voting guides from the American Family Association and had McCain surrogates in attendance who were making the case for him:

The church passed out flyers from the American Family Association that listed key issues and whether McCain or Obama support or oppose them. Many in the congregation say it is Republicans like Huckabee who support the issues most crucial to them.


One of John McCain’s fellow POW’s during the Vietnam War was also at the service. Orson Swindle has been friends with John McCain now for 37 years. He was by his side in captivity, and now he’s helping in the campaign ... Two more of McCain’s fellow POW’s were also at the service.

Huckabee, Santorum, Corsi Show Up in New Anti-Obama DVD

The Associated Press reports that Rick Santorum, Mike Huckabee, Ken Blackwell, Jerome Corsi, and others all make an appearance in a new anti-Obama DVD produced by Citizens United that is set to be included with newspapers in swing states just before the election:

Readers of Ohio's three largest newspapers, along with papers in Florida and Nevada, are finding an anti-Barack Obama DVD in editions this week.

Citizens United, a conservative advocacy group based in Washington, plans to release a 95-minute film in the five swing-state publications to highlight Obama's record on abortion rights, foreign policy and his past associations, including his relationship with former pastor Rev. Jermiah Wright. The group said it planned to spend more than $1 million to distribute about 1.25 million copies of "Hype: The Obama Effect."

"We think it's a truthful attack. People can take it anyway they want," said David Bossie, Citizens United's president.

Readers of The Columbus Dispatch received their copy Tuesday. The Cincinnati Enquirer, The (Cleveland) Plain Dealer, The Palm Beach (Fla.) Post and the Las Vegas Review-Journal are scheduled to receive them in coming days.

The film raises questions about Obama's political base in Chicago and questions the media's reporting on Obama.

Among those interviewed are conservative columnist Robert Novak, former Clinton strategist-turned-pundit Dick Morris and former Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell. Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum and discredited Obama critic Jerome Corsi also give interviews.

Huckabee Already Preparing for 2012

Over the weekend, Mike Huckabee attended a fundraiser for a couple of Republican candidates in Louisiana during which he urged those in attendance to get on their knees and thank God if John McCain wins … and get on their knees and pray if Barack Obama wins: 

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, a minister, couldn’t resist a reference to prayer as he addressed a Republican crowd here Sunday during a fund-raiser to benefit party nominee U.S. Sen. John McCain.

“If Sen. McCain wins, we should get on our knees and thank the Lord,” said Huckabee, who was hosted by Squire Creek Country Club developer James Davison and 5th District U.S. Rep. Rodney Alexander. “If Sen. Obama wins, we’ll need to get on our knees and pray even harder.”

He was also asked about his future presidential aspirations and said he couldn’t rule it out:

Huckabee didn’t rule out another run at the White House. “It’s hard to say,” he said when asked about his future role in the national party. “I honestly don’t know.”

That makes sense, especially considering that his PAC is currently offering “Huck” bumper stickers to its donors:

Want to annoy Barack Obama and the Democrats? Support Huck PAC and our conservative candidates with a contribution of $10 or more and we will send you our new Huck PAC "HUCK" bumper sticker.

It’s rather odd that Huckabee is offering stickers featuring his own name just a week before John McCain appears poised to lose this election.  Purely coincidence, I’m sure.

Dan Gilgoff has this image:

When In Doubt, Go With God, Guns, and Gays

During the GOP primary, we kept hearing about the emergence of a "new evangelical" movement that cared about issues beyond the standard anti-gay, anti-abortion right-wing agenda and were repeatedly told that Mike Huckabee was the most high profile example of this new type of leader.  

As we pointed out then, and have continued to point out, that was a dramatic oversimplification and fundamentally misleading.  Because, when you get down to it, people like Mike Huckabee are in fact fully aligned with the traditional Religious Right agenda and, as Dan Gilgoff smartly notices, inevitably revert to form when it comes crunch time:

Remember back to the Republican primaries, when Mike Huckabee campaigned as a new kind of evangelical candidate, adding issues like the environment, education, and poverty to the hot-button agenda of God, guns, and gays?

That big-tent Huck seems to be in much shorter supply now. An email the Arkansas governor just sent out soliciting donations for his political action committee--whose beneficiaries include John McCain and Sarah Palin--asks fors $5 for each of these five red meat issues:

1. Protection of Human Life 2. Traditional Marriage 3. Tax policy that doesn't punish people for working, but rewards them 4. 2nd amendment rights 5. Supreme Court and Federal Court judge selection

So much for all those professed concerns about poverty, the environment, and human rights. 

DeLay Backs Huckabee for 2012

Mike Huckabee may be content to busy himself with his TV show for now, but that doesn’t mean he’s giving up the idea of running for president again in the future.  Just last week, he declared that he’d consider another run because "My experience in no way embittered me” – and if he decides to run again in 2012, it looks like he’ll have the support of Tom DeLay:

Tom DeLay was a supporter of Mike Huckabee in the Republican primaries, and likes his chances for the party's nomination in 2012 if John McCain loses in November, despite disagreeing with the former Arkansas governor on a number of issues.

"I've known Huckabee for 30 years," DeLay, the former House majority leader from Texas, told "I know what kind of man he is, how strong he is. I didn't agree with him on global warming, but I can overlook that knowing what a great man he is."

"I think that because of the kind of person he is, people like him," DeLay said. "If he weren't so populist, I think the conservatives would rally around him."

Huckabee encountered significant opposition during his campaign from various conservative groups, including the Club for Growth, which invested heavily in negative advertising against his candidacy.

DeLay said that he doesn't think Huckabee will be satisfied with his new job at Fox News, and hinted that the former governor was interested in running for president again if McCain loses. "He's looking ahead," DeLay said. "He's going to be out there helping build the party. He's going to be around.

Sarah Palin: Mike Huckabee’s Biggest Nightmare

Last week, we were noting with amazement how Sarah Palin went from complete unknown to de facto leader of the right-wing movement in a matter of weeks:

Eagle Forum President Phyllis Schlafly, conservative cause prompter Richard Viguerie and Free Congress Foundation President Paul M. Weyrich - all considered movement founders - each gave The Times the same two-word answer to the question about the emerging leader of the right: "Sarah Palin."

"None of the above names - Romney, Gingrich, Huckabee, DeLay - will be the conservative movement's leader in the coming years," Mr. Viguerie said. "Governor Palin's VP nomination is huge. It changes conservative, Republican and American politics for the next 20 years."

Of course, this raises an interesting prospect for what happens to Mike Huckabee in 2012 if John McCain loses this year:  

The former Arkansas governor emerged as one of Palin’s most vocal defenders when he spoke shortly before she took the stage at the Republican National Convention earlier this month.

But depending on how this election shapes up, they could end up political rivals for a future presidential bid with narratives that overlap and appeal to the same constituency.

“I think in a lot of ways, they’re pretty similar figures,” said Jay Barth, a political scientist at Hendrix College in Conway. “Their kind of personal style has some similarities to it. I think she really does cut into his turf significantly.”

Palin’s pick as John McCain’s running mate energized evangelicals, especially those who had been worried that he would choose a running mate who would support abortion rights. She’s also sided with the majority evangelical view in opposing gay marriage and expressing a desire to see creationism discussed alongside evolution in schools.

Those positions cut into Huckabee’s base of support among evangelicals, who were attracted to the Southern Baptist minister for his conservative stance on social issues. And, with a quick wit, Huckabee was able to make up for the lack of name recognition with an ability to grab the limelight.

But Palin—who’s selling herself as a “hockey mom” who hunts moose—is now dominating that limelight. If McCain loses in November, she could become the next in line for the GOP.

Back when he was running for the nomination, Huckabee saw Mitt Romney as the biggest threat to his efforts to secure his position as the Right’s favorite candidate and was absolutely merciless in attacking him, and while he might be willing to take a back seat to Palin at the moment in order to help John McCain’s campaign, he probably won’t be so deferential down the line if he finds himself in a face-to-face showdown with Palin for the Right’s support.

God Created Marriage, Not "Party A" and "Party B"

Mike Huckabee gets active in the Proposition 8 campaign - on the “yes” side, naturally – and explains that the “purpose of marriage is not for you to be happy:”

Changing the definition of marriage would be like making Mona Lisa blond or touching up her smile, former presidential candidate Mike Huckabee said Sunday morning in Newbury Park.

The former Arkansas governor and Southern Baptist preacher spoke from the pulpit of Calvary Chapel Thousand Oaks in two services focused on Proposition 8, a state constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage. He told about 1,000 people that marriage was created and defined by God, just as the Mona Lisa was created by Leonardo da Vinci.

"God doesn't want me to take my brush and paint over his masterpiece," he said … "The purpose of marriage is not for you to be happy," Huckabee said. "The purpose of marriage is so God can teach us how to love, like he loves us."

Speaking of couples who are not happy about the current state of marriage in California,

Last month, Rachel Bird exchanged vows with Gideon Codding in a church wedding in front of family and friends. As far as Bird is concerned, she is a bride.

To the state of California, however, she is either "Party A" or "Party B."

Those are the terms that have replaced "bride" and "groom" on the state's new gender-neutral marriage licenses. And to Bird and Codding, that is unacceptable.

"We are traditionalists – we just want to be called bride and groom," said Bird, 25, who works part time for her father's church. "Those words have been used for generations and now they just changed them."

Bird says her crusade is “personal – not religious,” but she getting solid support from her father, Doug Bird, pastor of Roseville's Abundant Life Fellowship, who is now sending out letters to his congregation and fellow pastors urging them to join the fight:  "I would encourage you to refuse to sign marriage licenses with 'Party A' and 'Party B. If ever there was a time for the people of the United States to stand up and let their voices be heard – this is that time."

Why exactly is Bird so upset about the change?

"We just feel that our rights have been violated," she said.

To some, the couple's stand may seem frivolous. But others believe "bride" and "groom" are terms that are too important for the state to set aside.

"Those who support (same-sex marriage) say it has no impact on heterosexuals," said Brad Dacus of the Pacific Justice Institute. "This debunks that argument."

So there you go:  treating gays equally must be stopped in the name of protecting the more important rights of straight people to be referred to as “bride” and “groom” on their legal paperwork.

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.

Increasing Adoptions By Limiting the Pool

The AP reports that a ballot initiative preventing “gays and lesbians from becoming foster or adoptive parents was cleared Monday to appear on this fall's ballot in Arkansas”:

The measure would prohibit unmarried couples living together from fostering or adopting children, and Arkansas doesn't allow gays to marry or recognize gay marriages conducted elsewhere.

"Arkansas needs to affirm the importance of married mothers and fathers," Family Council President Jerry Cox said. "We need to publicly affirm the gold standard of rearing children whenever we can. The state standard should be as close to that gold standard of married mom and dad homes as possible."

You’d think that banning willing gays and lesbians from becoming foster or adoptive parents would only end up shrinking the pool of those willing to raise these children in need, but you’d be wrong – according to the Family Council Action Committee, putting this on the ballot will amazingly result in even more foster and adoptive parents:

[T]he campaign to pass this act is designed to increase the number of families willing to adopt or serve as foster parents. By circulating petitions in churches and elsewhere, we will spend the next several months highlighting the need for more foster and adoptive homes. We’ve published a book entitled, Adoption and Foster Care in Arkansas. Volunteers in this campaign will not only be circulating petitions, but they will be encouraging families to consider adopting a child or becoming a foster parent. Overall, we expect this effort to increase the number of foster care and adoptive homes in Arkansas.

Presumably, the Family Council thinks that “traditional” couples will suddenly start clamoring to take these children once they’ve ensured that they gays can’t have them.  And, if not, it’s just as well that the kids remain safely in the care of the state rather than being “used to promote the social or political agenda of any special interest group.” 

 In short, the effort nails the trifecta:

This act protects the welfare of children, it blunts a homosexual agenda, and it encourages more people to adopt children or serve as foster parents. That’s what this act does. Anyone who tries to tell you anything less isn’t telling the whole story.

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.

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.

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.

The Huckabee Fan Club Says “It’s Us or Them”

Just last week we were noting that the recent surge of support among Religious Right leaders for John McCain seemed to hinge largely on his willingness to follow their advice and name Mike Huckabee as his running mate.  But as decision-time nears and the campaign begins airing lists of candidates which don’t include Huckabee, these right-wing leaders sprung into action to, once again, make their opposition known to Mitt Romney, the presumed front-runner:   

Prominent evangelical leaders are warning Sen. John McCain against picking former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney as his running mate, saying their troops will abandon the Republican ticket on Election Day if that happens.

They say Mr. Romney lacks trust on issues such as outlawing abortion and opposing same-sex marriage and because he is a Mormon. Opposition is particularly powerful among those who supported former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee in the Republican presidential primaries earlier this year.

"McCain and Romney would be like oil and water," said evangelical novelist Tim LaHaye, who supported Mr. Huckabee. "We aren't against Mormonism, but Romney is not a thoroughgoing evangelical and his flip-flopping on issues is understandable in a liberal state like Massachusetts, but our people won't understand that."

David Barton, a former vice president of the Republican Party of Texas, said, "The key for Mr. McCain is to pick someone who opposes abortion but doesn't alienate any part of the general Republican voting coalition" as Mr. Romney does.

Longtime social-conservative leaders such as Phyllis Schlafly, Phil Burress, Donald P. Hodel and Mathew Staver said earlier this month that they can rally their voters around Mr. McCain largely on the issues of abortion and the judiciary, as long as they are confident that the vice-presidential candidate is pro-life. They are skeptical about Mr. Romney's views.

Mr. Barton, founder of the national pro-life group WallBuilders, said the downside for picking either Mr. Romney or Mr. Huckabee is that evangelicals still would vote for Mr. McCain on Nov. 4 - given the alternative of Mr. Obama - but not work as hard organizing and getting out the vote.

"Romney would bring to the ticket as much enthusiasm from supporters as Huckabee would bring, but Romney's would be from fiscal conservatives and Huckabee's would be evangelicals," he said.

Of course, Barton and just about every other person mentioned in this article just so happened to sign on to the Colorado letter that essentially warned McCain that he’d better pick Huckabee or else, so it is not as if they are disinterested observers. 

Barton’s suggestion that Romney would generate a lot of excitement among fiscal conservatives is a little suspect given that the best that organizations like Club for Growth could say about him was that they were “reasonably optimistic that [he] would generally advocate a pro-growth agenda."  It’s laughable to think that Romney would match among fiscal conservatives the rabid enthusiasm that Huckabee has had throughout the process from Religious Right leaders.    

Even so, what Barton and the other Religious Right leaders quoted in the article seem to be doing is daring McCain to pick a side:  us or them; bringing to a head a clash between social and fiscal conservatives that has been brewing ever since Republicans lost control of Congress back in 2006.

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

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.

The Nazi Thing

Zirkle and the Nazi PartyTony Zirkle’s 15 minutes of swastika-draped fame were widely reported last month, when the Indiana congressional candidate spoke at an American Nazi Party celebration of Adolf Hitler’s birthday. Zirkle, whose campaign warns of a link between Jews and pornography, offered the comical explanation that, despite the oversize Hitler portrait and Nazi flags directly behind him, the swastika armbands of the men on either side of him, and the words “Seig Heil” on the cake, “he didn't believe the event he attended included people necessarily of the Nazi mindset, pointing out the name isn't Nazi, but Nationalist Socialist Workers Party.” The candidate was duly reviled by his opponent in the Republican primary race, as well as by everybody else, as an isolated racist crackpot.

However, the report on the matter by the right-wing WorldNetDaily—a product of the anti-Bill Clinton Arkansas Project that now hosts columnists such as Ann Coulter, Pat Buchanan, and Chuck Norris—offered an unusual twist. After reviewing the story and printing a number of random comments from other websites (a common journalistic technique at WND), the article tried to put it in a kind of context: "Other congressional candidates have raised eyebrows with their speeches, too," it stated. But its only example was a quote from Rep. Keith Ellison comparing the time after September 11, 2001, when the Bush Administration asserted new executive privileges, to the time after the burning of the Reichstag, when Hitler consolidated his powers.

While Ellison took heat for using the metaphor, there is, to put it mildly, a pretty obvious distinction between making a rhetorical comparison of your opponents' tactics to historical events in Nazi Germany, and actually forging an alliance with present-day Nazis based on apparently shared values. So why did WND choose this as its only attempt at context?

Ellison, of course, was the first Muslim member of Congress, and after his election in 2006, the Right launched an effort to portray his presence in Washington as a dire threat to the nation. WorldNetDaily offered obsessive coverage through dozens of flimsy, paranoid articles with titles such as “Doubts grow over Muslim lawmaker's loyalty” and “Muslim congressman called 'security' issue.”

Since WND is so desperate for an example of an anti-Semitic political figure, it’s fortunate that Ted Pike provided a timely reminder. Pike, head of the National Prayer Network, has been a frequent source of quotes for WND whenever the site covered proposed federal hate-crimes protections, most recently in December.

Pike is best-known, however, for pushing out anti-Semitic propaganda along with his father, a radio talker in the 1980s. As People For the American Way reported in a press release from 1989, Pike was warning that there was “a tendency toward Jewish domination of society,” that “Jewish international bankers” were behind the Bolshevik Revolution, and that the state of Israel was “the first stage in Satan’s plan to take this world from Christ and give it to the Antichrist.” Twenty years ago, Pike was warning that the Jewish motivation behind hate-crimes legislation was to silence churches; today, he warns of the “homosexual agenda.”

We were reminded of Pike—and his place as a privileged WorldNetDaily commentator—after he sent out an e-mail alert two weeks ago complaining that the Southern Poverty Law Center had cited the National Prayer Network as a hate group:

Jewish activist groups want to increasingly broaden the terms "hate" and "anti-Semitism" to include evangelicals. …

Jewish activists thus display a truly hateful intent—to harm Christians and deprive them of freedom. Such activists work to warp public and government perceptions of Christian conservatives—demonizing us as potential sources of “homophobic,” anti-Semitic bigotry and possible violence. SPLC alleges a 48 percent increase of threat from the "radical right" since 2000. Jewish attack groups such as the Anti-Defamation League of B'nai B'rith, American Civil Liberties Union, and People for the American Way, smear “homophobic” evangelicals as being part of this “threat.”

After defaming Christians as "haters," Jewish supremacists want to actually outlaw Christian political activity and evangelism. The ADL created hate crime laws that will particularly outlaw reproof of sodomy and evangelism of non-Christians, especially Jews.

(Photo: The Times of Northwest Indiana.)

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