Huckabee’s Tough Talk

One of Mike Huckabee’s points of pride is that he alone among the remaining Republican presidential candidates, does not feel the need to pander to the Religious Right because, as he puts it, “I come today not as one who comes to you, but as one who comes from you” – a point he also emphasized when he appeared at the Values Voter Debate back in September.  

But despite the rock-solid right-wing record and credentials, he just hasn’t been able to capitalize on the discontent plaguing the movement’s most influential organizations and leaders who seem to be just looking for reasons not to support him.  For instance, last week Tony Perkins and Gary Bauer held a conference call for reporters in which they faulted Huckabee’s apparent lack seriousness regarding the threat of “radical Islam”:

Neither Perkins nor Bauer muster a great deal of enthusiasm for the candidacy of former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, even though he has strong evangelical credentials. Mr. Huckabee attended Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, served as a Baptist pastor, and later was president of the Arkansas Baptist State Convention.

“While Governor Huckabee is very good on all the social issues, he has not seemed to find solid footing on the issue of the threat internationally from radical Islam,” Perkins said.

“In a major foreign-policy address a couple of weeks ago that did not get much attention … in the middle of the speech [Huckabee] went after the Bush administration on not aggressively negotiating enough with Iran and suggested that the administration needs to offer economic incentives for Iran to change its policy,” Bauer said. “That just struck me as a very naive approach.”

That message obviously wasn’t lost on Huckabee, who now seems to be trying to cram tough-guy talk into his speeches at every opportunity, telling the audience at the Values Voter Summit:

I fear that many Americans simply are not fully aware of the depth of threat we face from Islamofascism. And I’m afraid that if we do not wake up and understand that this threat is one that we cannot negotiate, accommodate, or placate – it is one which we must eradicate, because we they don’t care whether it takes 1,000 days or 1,000 years, their goal is not simply to make sure that your grandchildren don’t live as well or have as nice a home. They don’t want your grandchildren to ever live at all … Ladies and gentlemen, our nation, our world, our freedom has never faced the level of threat that we currently face. We can fight those countries who have a war over borders and boundaries, who fight with bullets and with bombs and who fight under the banner of flags, but we cannot completely ever fully understand the depth of fanaticism that drives Islamofascism, and that’s why we must make sure that every American understands that the threat of our freedom is real. It’s going to be here. And we cannot have the naïve idea that if we leave them alone, they will leave us alone. That will get us killed.

He trotted out a similar line during the recent Republican debate in Florida, warning that if Hillary Clinton becomes president” our military loses its morale, and I’m not sure we’ll have the courage and the will and the resolve to fight the greatest threat this country’s ever faced in Islamofascism.” 

Huckabee was the overwhelming favorite among those who attended the Values Voter Summit, and it is not hard to see why:

He called for a constitutional amendment declaring marriage to be between a man and a woman and decried the “holocaust of liberalized abortion.”

“We do not have the right to move the standards of God to meet cultural norms. We need to move the cultural norms to meet God’s standards,” he said, bringing the crowd to its feet.

With his campaign and prospects slowly gaining steam, perhaps all Huckabee needs to put him over the top is regular doses of manly talk about just how tough he’ll be in facing down “Islamofascism.”