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Thursday, October 18, 2007


GOP (should) heart Huckabee

posted by Aziz P. at Thursday, October 18, 2007 permalink View blog reactions
At myDD, there's a post about the true dark horse on the GOP side, Mike Huckabee. The bottom line on him is that he has a reserve os support and money that belies his "third tier" status and, in the words of Mike Caulfield,

There is this air of reasonableness which flows off of him. He's a year 2000 George Bush with 40 additional IQ points and without that damn smirk. Even that doesn't hit it -- Huckabee is as talented on the stump as any of the candidates, Democratic or Republican. [...]

Hillary v. Huckabee is a threat to a Democratic victory in a way that Hillary v. Guiliani is frankly not. Were the Republican base to get past its craving for 2002, when hate was in vogue, they'd see that their best chance for an election win is to rerun the formula of 2000 with a sharper and more experienced candidate.

Well, today Huckabee just got a major boost, since Brownback just announced he is out:

Kansas Sen. Sam Brownback will drop his White House bid in an announcement tomorrow. Brownback, a Christian conservative, had sought to build a base in Iowa, though a disappointing third-place finish in the straw poll in Ames in August hurt him with donors.

Conventional wisdom says that this will help Romney, but I think that it's Huckabee who will get the tangible benefit.

Strangely, discussion of these candidates is almost wholly absent from RedState. Why is the progressive blogsphere more attuned to this than the conservative side? I blame the hype of Fred Thompson and the polarizing nature of Rudy that together have acted to suck all the oxygen out of the political analysis atmosphere there.

UPDATE: there's a recommended diary at RS on Huckabee. The tone of the discussion, though, is negative. Is RS out of touch with the grassroots GOP?

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First, some of us don't see Bush 2000 as the best idea. I voted for McCain and then Gore for example. Re-running "compassionate conservatism" does not have big appeal to me.

Second, Huckabee is the least economically literate Republican since Hoover. He is anti-free trade, thinks government should dictate health rules such as exercise, and has talked about price ceilings on CEO pay. Altogether, Huckabee not only does not understand the problems with government meddling in the market but he is a big advocate of such Big Government ideas. Hence the vehement opposition of the Club for Growth. Many Rs don't want to entirely abandon pro-market policies.

Third, although this doesn't apply to me, his immigration views are by far the furthest from the base of Republicans of any candidate. He has called opponents of open borders "racist" before he was running for President. So some on the right who might listen to him are turned off by being called "racist" by him.

All that said, he has done well in debates and campaigning. He does have a middle America demeanor and connects with non-elites better than almost all Rs and Ds running for President. But in the end, that means he is a lot like President Bush - Big Government, social conservative, and connects well with lower middle income white voters. And most Rs do not think running the person most like Bush is a good idea right now.


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About Nation-Building

Nation-Building was founded by Aziz Poonawalla in August 2002 under the name Dean Nation. Dean Nation was the very first weblog devoted to a presidential candidate, Howard Dean, and became the vanguard of the Dean netroot phenomenon, raising over $40,000 for the Dean campaign, pioneering the use of Meetup, and enjoying the attention of the campaign itself, with Joe Trippi a regular reader (and sometime commentor). Howard Dean himself even left a comment once. Dean Nation was a group weblog effort and counts among its alumni many of the progressive blogsphere's leading talent including Jerome Armstrong, Matthew Yglesias, and Ezra Klein. After the election in 2004, the blog refocused onto the theme of "purple politics", formally changing its name to Nation-Building in June 2006. The primary focus of the blog is on articulating purple-state policy at home and pragmatic liberal interventionism abroad.