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.