As the GOP embraces the reactionary politics and anti-government zealotry of the Tea Party, it is steadily purging “moderates” and empowering extremists. Nothing shows this trend more clearly than the lineup of potential Republican presidential candidates. In this new series, we’ll be looking at the records and promises of the Republican Party’s leading presidential prospects. Next up is Mike Huckabee:
Former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee may have lost his 2008 presidential bid, in which he ran as a folksy “Christian leader,” but the heavy media exposure he got from it helped him to become a national Religious Right hero with his very own Fox News show. He even has a new book out with the red-meat title “God, Guns, Grits, and Gravy.”
Huckabee has been especially active in the debate over marriage equality, hoping to convince the GOP to fight gay rights more aggressively. He told one conservative talk show that he is “utterly exasperated” with his party and may become an independent if Republicans don’t work harder to ban gay marriage. He insists that governors should defy court decisions striking down such bans, explaining that it is appropriate to ignore gay rights measures just as it would have been right to flout laws under Jim Crow or Nazi Germany. He once said he worried that marriage equality might sanction man-sheep marriage.
Beyond just the issue of marriage, Huckabee has criticized gay people for joining the Boy Scouts and appearing on television while also likening homosexuality to alcoholism and gay marriage to Nazi Germany. He says that states should simply ignore federal court rulings on gay rights and vowed to restore Don’t Ask Don’t Tell if elected president.
“I feel homosexuality is an aberrant, unnatural and sinful lifestyle, and we now know it can pose a dangerous public health risk,” Huckabee said in 1992 during an unsuccessful campaign for U.S. Senate. That year, he also suggested that the government quarantine people with HIV/AIDS: “If the federal government is truly serious about doing something with the AIDS virus, we need to take steps that would isolate the carriers of this plague.” During his 2008 presidential campaign, Huckabee defended his past remarks on homosexuality and HIV, saying, “I still believe this today.”
While other Republicans ran away from the extremist anti-abortion, anti-contraception “personhood” movement, Huckabee keynoted a fundraiser for the unsuccessful Mississippi personhood campaign, which was led by a Christian Nationalist secessionist, and endorsed another failed personhood amendment in North Dakota.
Huckabee described the health care reform law’s contraception coverage rules as a grave threat to freedom and a liberal ploy to make women feel like they “can’t control their libido” and need help from “Uncle Sugar.” He even linked the contraception coverage mandate, along with the separation of church and state, to the Sandy Hook school shooting. Huckabee seems to conveniently forget that he enacted a sweeping contraception coverage mandate as governor of Arkansas, one that went even farther to impact religious-affiliated groups than the federal law.
Befitting his role as a Fox News personality, Huckabee has wondered if Obama is ushering in the End Times, predicted that laws to curb gun violence and gay rights will lead to Nazi-style tyranny, alleged that Christians are becoming second-class citizens to Muslims, and has repeatedly pushed the birther movement’s conspiracy theories.
Huckabee has also used his newfound fame to make a bit of money pushing miracle cancer cures purportedly found in the Bible, discredited Diabetes remedies and survival food supplies.
With this record of extremism, RNC Chairman Reince Priebus has held Huckabee up as “a model” for other Republican politicians to follow: “I always tell people: Listen to Gov. Mike Huckabee.”