One of these two former governors was, by his own admission, not a “Ronald Reagan conservative” in 1994 or even 2002–but is here in 2007 and has actions to prove it. The other, based on his deeply held views, is not such a conservative now, yet he apparently has the support of sixty percent of a conservative group. What’s wrong with this picture?
From U.S. News and World Report‘s “Washington Whispers“:
The race to win the Christian-right vote has already narrowed to a battle between former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, say activists. And for many at this month’s closed-door summit of the Council for National Policy-a top-secret club of marquee conservative advocates-Huckabee was the 60-40 fave, say attendees. This crowd counts: Members include Focus on the Family founder James Dobson and Left Behind author Tim LaHaye. Huckabee, a Baptist minister, wowed the confab, even though it’s Romney who has won over evangelical leaders. What’s more, activists say “in-the-pew evangelicals” will most likely gravitate toward Huckabee, who is strong on marriage and antiabortion issues.
And from the Associated Press:
Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee says it’s true — his views are considered unorthodox for a Republican running for president.
The Southern Baptist minister and bass guitarist defended taxes, social programs and, heaven forbid, the arts Sunday during a television news interview.
“One of my real passions is music and art in the curriculum of students. And when I talk about it and talk about it with the kind of passion that I do, people say ‘Are you a Republican?’ As if Republicans don’t like music,” Huckabee told “This Week’”s George Stephanopoulos.
“There’s such a value in developing both the left and right sides of the brain,” Huckabee said. “And yet there’s this perception that Republicans sort of stay away from the arts. Well, I want to prove them to be wrong.”
Huckabee said he takes positions that people don’t expect Republicans to take. He doesn’t apologize, for instance, for supporting higher fuel taxes in Arkansas to support roads. During his more than 10 years as governor, he believed it was important to provide affordable housing and health insurance for low-income children, he said.
“What Americans don’t want is unfair, unnecessary, exceptionally high taxes where the money is wasted,” he said. “But Americans understand that if you have the garbage picked up, or the fire trucks and police cars out there, or for that matter if you have a highway, then it’s got to be paid for.”
A native of Hope, Ark., as is former President Clinton, Huckabee stressed the central role faith plays in all his decisions.
“That will explain to you why I have a passion for life. And that’s why, as a governor, I’ve fought hard to see children have medical insurance and decent schools and safe neighborhoods and drinking water and affordable housing because that’s consistent with me being pro-life.
“I don’t want to see some single mom worry and struggle that she’s not going to be able to have food for her kids. I don’t want some wife to have the daylights beaten out of her by some abusive husband and have nowhere to turn.”
UPDATE: In case you’re wondering, Governor Huckabee was much more explicit in the New York Times in saying that he doesn’t just support “the arts,” but rather public expenditures on them:
“I want to be concerned about making sure every child has music and art education,” he said. “There are a lot of things that, to me, are a part of my being pro-life.”