Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee formally announced his candidacy for president this week. As soon as he made his announcement in a city called Hope, Arkansas, the pundits started dissecting his electability. Huckabee, who is currently polling with about 9% of the Republican vote, generates a mixed reaction from campaign analysts. Critics say he has limited appeal and that his “populist” message only plays to evangelical Christians. However, it was the support of 46% of evangelical Christians in 2008, which enabled Huckabee to win Iowa and carry five primaries. Critics also say that it is no longer 2008 and that in 2016 there are other candidates who appeal to the evangelical base, such as Ted Cruz. Many say that Huckabee is not a fresh voice given his failed 2008 presidential bid and claim that he will have the same problem cultivating fundraising support that he did in 2008. Furthermore, Huckabee has received criticism for not being fiscally conservative enough. During his leadership of Arkansas, he raised taxes, increased spending and opposed school vouchers. The Club for Growth has threatened to fight his candidacy. His strong stance against free trade and entitlement reform have also not made him many friends among the conservative base of the Republican party. Finally, Huckabee has also taken heat for the high number of criminal pardons which happened under his leadership of Arkansas. During his ten and a half year tenure as governor, Huckabee granted 1,033 pardons, which is more than double the collective 507 pardons from his predecessors Bill Clinton, Frank White, and Jim Guy Tucker during a seventeen year time frame. For instance, Governor Huckabee received a lot of criticism for pardoning Maurice Clemmons, who, after his release from a 108 year jail sentence, assassinated four Lakewood Washington state police officers.
Despite the aforementioned criticisms, Governor Huckabee remains a viable 2016 candidate for a number of reasons. First of all, he espouses and practices strong conservative principles, including strong border control, strong defense policies and traditional family values. When he takes a position on an issue, he stays with it. Secondly, he has innovative ideas such as reworking our tax structure from a revenue based tax to a consumption tax. Thirdly, he has a history of successfully going up against the Clinton machine. He is clearly the only GOP candidate who has such an intimate understanding of the inner workings of the Clinton operation. Fourthly, as a Baptist minister and television host, he exudes a tremendous amount of charisma. Charisma is not only critical to a political campaign, it is also a great asset for a president. Ronald Reagan clearly had charisma in spades, and that helped him to effectively communicate to the American people, other world leaders and the media during the challenging periods of his presidency. Finally, Governor Huckabee truly embodies the American dream. He is a man of humble origins who rose to the Arkansas governor’s office through education and hard work. He is fully cognizant of his origins and credits his growing up in the United States with making his political and economic rise possible. He also possesses optimism for our country’s future. Right now, after six and half years under the Barack Obama presidency and the President’s ongoing apology tour for America, the citizens of the United States are in desperate need of a leader who believes in America’s future. Governor Huckabee represents real “hope” for our country. We can look to Governor Huckabee for “change we can believe in.” While it is still early in the campaign and we don’t know who the ultimate GOP candidate will be, we do know that we need a leader who loves America. Governor Huckabee fits that bill.
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