After his loss in the Republican Primary, Mike Huckabee blasted various leaders in the Religious Right movement for failing to support his campaign, which was really just a continuation of what he had been doing during his campaign.
Since then, in addition to maintaining his relationships with the various second-tier (and increasingly radical) leaders who did support his candidacy, he had been slowly making in-roads with those who had withheld their support.
The underlying issue that had plagued Huckabee during his campaign was that he was opposed by the economic conservative groups like the Club for Growth, which had soured the Religious Right on his prospects. For all of the influence that the Religious Right wields within the GOP, the fact remains that it is the support of economic conservatives that can make or break a candidate and without that support, essentially no candidate can win the nomination, no matter how strong they may be on the social issues upon which the Religious Right power-brokers stake their claims.
With that in mind, it looks like Huckabee, should he decide to run for president again, will find himself in the very same situation this time around:
But authenticity isn’t enough, and he’s also been giving thought, and some effort, to the part that failed him in 2008: political organizing.
“It would have to be far more organized and extensive than last time,” he said. “I would not try to go out and operate without the financial support.”
He’s also been meeting, he said, with some of the evangelical and Republican leaders who rejected him before. “In some of their cases, there’s a very different attitude to me now,” he said.
But some attitudes don’t change. Huckabee met in the spring with Pat Toomey, then the president of the Wall Street-backed Club for Growth, which had attacked him during the 2008 campaign for raising taxes in Arkansas.
“It wasn’t very productive,” he said of the meeting. “I realized then that these guys are just what I thought they were — they’re pay for play, and they do it anonymously on behalf of people who don’t want to be known as the funders of these hit operations. I find that repulsive.”
If Huckabee runs again and can’t win over groups like Club for Growth, it will be a real test for the Religious Right: will they back the candidate who most closely shares their views and even brags that while other candidates come to them for support, he comes from them, or will they once again waffle and refuse to support him out of fealty to the economic conservatives and fears that he can’t win, leaving Huckabee to settle for the fringe second and third stringers who made up the bulk of his support the last time around?