One of the most interesting things about Mike Huckabee’s post-campaign career is how he relentlessly travels the country while constantly insisting that he doesn’t have any plans to make another run for the White House in 2012.
I am inclined to believe him – mainly because nobody who was planning on seeking the GOP nomination would be a relentlessly critical and dismissive of the Religious Right powerbrokers as Huckabee has been ever since his campaign ended.
Huckabee has made no secret of his disdain for all the groups and their leaders who refused to support him that last time around and he has taken every opportunity to not only criticize them but to, amazingly, try and downplay their importance, as he does in this new World Magazine piece in which he declares The Arlington Group to be fractured and therefore irrelevant:
WORLD: Where do you think some of the Christian conservative leaders went wrong in 2008?
HUCKABEE: They became more enamored with the process of politics than with principles and convictions. I saw pretty firsthand a lot of people saying, “We don’t think you can win. We like everything you stand for and you are one of us, but we’re not going to support you because you can’t win.” My assessment was when Christians decide to get involved as Christians and then abandon the issues by which they are essentially motivated, they might as well be the Republican Women of Poinsett County or something. They become ineffective as issue players.
WORLD: In your recent book Do the Right Thing, you chastise the Arlington Group in particular as a group of conservative Christians who didn’t get behind you. Looking back, do you think things would have been different if they had?
HUCKABEE: The honest answer is I don’t know. It might have done more harm than good. It could be that I would have been perceived as a “wholly owned” subsidiary of the Christian conservative movement.
WORLD: What do you do now regarding the Arlington Group and others? Can you gather them behind you at this point, having had this unexpected success?
HUCKABEE: The Arlington Group pretty much dissipated. I think they splintered and split and many of them took issue with each other because they felt that they had failed to do what originally they had compacted to do, which was to early on interview candidates, pick a candidate, and then coalesce behind that one candidate and try to unite the strength and force that they could. They failed to do that.
The Arlington Group is a secretive, high-influential coalition of like-minded interest groups that includes just about every major Religious Right organization in the country. In many ways, winning over the members of the Arlington Group is a key step in securing the Republican Party’s presidential nomination and just about every GOP hopeful during the last election sought its support – including Huckabee, who declared that “if they were to get behind me, it would be a huge surge for me.”
But Huckabee couldn’t win it over and is now declaring them fractured and irrelevant because it failed to “coalesce behind that one candidate” who best represented its goals and mission – him.
If Huckabee decides to make another run for the White House in the future, he’s going to have to rethink his current strategy of bad-mouthing those individuals and groups who refused to back his campaign last time (and whose lack of support doomed his hopes) because is not a particularly effective way of winning their support the next time around.