1. This headline:
Will Huckabee be the Republican Nominee?
This WashPo article by the never-resting Chris Cillizza suggests that Huckabee is on the Presidential prowl:
Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee (R) leaned heavily toward the 2012 presidential race over the weekend, telling Fox News Channel’s Chris Wallace that he “does better against [President] Obama than any other Republican.”
Huckabee’s appearance — in which he also cited a “strong sentiment out there” for him to run — was followed by a blog post on the confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan in which the governor sought to remind people of the stakes in elections; “When I hear a statement like ‘Republicans and Democrats are all the same,’ I cringe and think of moments in our nation’s history just like this one,” he wrote.
Huckabee has also used his HUCK PAC to endorse and donate to candidates of his choosing — although his fundraising capacity to date doesn’t rival that of former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney or Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty — both of whom are widely expected to run for president in 2012.
Of late then, Huckabee is giving every public indication that he is ramping up a run for president.
In private, however, there is little evidence that Huckabee is doing the sorts of things — broadening his political network, hiring on a team of experienced campaign operatives, and, most importantly, focusing heavily on fundraising — that would convince the D.C. chattering class that he has learned the right lessons from the 2008 campaign.
“While he is making noises in the national press, I am not seeing any of the organizational moves that would tell me he is making a serious run,” said Alex Vogel, a Republican lobbyist closely monitoring the 2012 field. “The people inside the Beltway won’t get moved by statements in the press — they will look for real action.”
Hogan Gidley, who runs HUCK PAC, insisted that the fact that Huckabee does not have the same approach to politics as some of his potential 2012 rivals is a strength, not a weakness.
“The Governor’s success comes from his expansive, nationwide network of committed volunteers who believe in true conservatism,” said Gidley. “Much to the chagrin of many Washington D.C. insiders, Gov. Huckabee’s success has come without all the help from the establishment or high paid political consultants.”
Gidley added that Huckabee has organized volunteer teams in each of the 50 states “awaiting the slightest hint of a presidential run” and that HUCK PAC has nearly doubled its 2009 donor base in just the first six months of 2010.
“Money is an important component to elections — no doubt — but if The Beatles and the 2008 presidential cycle have taught us anything, it’s that money can’t buy you love,” said Gidley, channeling his always-quotable boss.
Gidley’s points are worth noting — and his hiring is evidence that Huckabee is playing the game a bit more seriously. (Gidley is a former executive director of the South Carolina Republican party and replaced Sarah Huckabee, the governor’s daughter, who is now running Arkansas Rep. John Boozman’s Senate campaign.)
And yet, there still seems to be a sense within Huckabee’s world that simply re-running the 2008 campaign is a winning blueprint.
In that race, Huckabee managed to win the Iowa caucuses while being drastically outspent by Romney in a campaign that depended heavily on his base among social conservatives, strong volunteer support and his obvious personal appeal as an outsider (of sorts) to the political process.
It’s important to remember, however, that Iowa was the only early state that Huckabee carried. He took just 11 percent in New Hampshire to finish a distant third and while he bounced back to finish second in South Carolina, he placed fourth in Florida’s primary. By then Sen. John McCain (Ariz.) had wrapped up the nomination although Huckabee stayed in the race and won a handful of (mostly Southern) states.
There’s considerable reason to believe that simply re-creating his 2008 strategy in Iowa might not be a recipe for success for Huckabee, however.
Read why his “aw-shucks, we Christians ought to stick together schtick” might not work in 2012 here. (I think Cillizza overestimates the power of Huck’s personality. Maybe New Yorker columnist haven’t been inoculated to his charm, but the folks here in Tennessee who wasted their votes on him might be ready for someone new.)
2. This headline:
Christian Group’s Rights Not Violated by Hastings Law School, Court Says
A divided U.S. Supreme Court ruled that a public law school in San Francisco didn’t violate the rights of a Christian student group by denying it recognition because it limits participation by nonbelievers and gays.
The justices, voting 5-4, today upheld Hastings College of Law’s “all-comers” policy, which requires unrestricted membership for campus student groups. The policy doesn’t infringe First Amendment rights, the court said.
That policy is a “reasonable, viewpoint-neutral condition on access to the student-organization forum,” Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote for the majority.
The case divided the court along ideological lines, with Justice Anthony Kennedy joining the liberal wing of Justices Ginsburg, John Paul Stevens, Stephen Breyer and Sonia Sotomayor.
The Christian Legal Society chapter requires voting members and officers to sign a statement of agreement with the group’s religious views. The group also excludes those who engage in homosexual activity, saying such conduct is inconsistent with its principles.
Recognized student organizations get priority access to meeting space on the Hastings campus and the right to place announcements in the law school newsletter and on bulletin boards. Approved student organizations can also apply for funds to pay for activities and travel. The Christian Legal Society is the only group that has been denied recognition.
In dissent, Justice Samuel Alito said the majority “arms public educational institutions with a handy weapon for suppressing the speech of unpopular groups.” Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas also dissented.
Hastings says its all-comers policy encourages tolerance and cooperation among students of different backgrounds and viewpoints. The law school argued that the Christian Legal Society could retain its membership policies — and still have access to unused classroom space and other facilities — as a non-recognized group.