Huck’s Spectacularly Unpersuasive Defenders
A campaign theme of "I'm one of you" only works for folks who see themselves as "you."


Jim Geraghty

Notice a particular theme in the following accounts of the Huckabee campaign?

Writing about Mike Huckabee’s rapid ascent in the GOP primary, the Washington Post believed that they had found “how Huckabee did it.” They claim his success may be related to a physician from Montgomery, Ala., named Randy Brinson, who is “the keeper of a massive e-mail list of highly coveted Christian voters that Huckabee is using to reach and organize people in early-voting states such as Iowa.”

Mark Ambinder of the Atlantic noted:

Sources say that the Renewal Project, whose organizers are partial to Mike Huckabee, is planning three pastors conferences in Florida, one conference in New Hampshire (scheduled for Dec. 13 and 14) two in South Carolina and at least one in Michigan. Huckabee’s opponents suspect the Project is a campaign adjunct in disguise. Its backers are wealthy and anonymous. Last week in Des Moines, they paid for 350 pastors to stay at downtown hotels, fed them good meals and paid Newt Gingrich’s speakers fee. And only Mike Huckabee was invited to speak.

(The project’s organizers insisted that all the other candidates were invited, but, funnily enough, no other candidate seems to have gotten the invitation.)

Last week, Huckabee announced his campaign’s “Iowa Pastors Coalition, the endorsement of Iowa family values leader Chuck Hurley and the support of nationally known religious leader Tim LaHaye and his spouse, Beverly LaHaye, who founded Concerned Women of America.”

Tack onto that some of the more controversial moments of the Huckabee campaign in recent weeks: Both the candidate and his wife have compared elements of their campaigns to the miracle of the loaves and fishes; he in reference to his rise in the polls, she in reference to his fundraising.

One of his first ads refers to the candidate as a “Christian Leader.” His spokesman insisted this label was simply touting his resume as pastor of several Southern Baptist churches and service as president of the Arkansas Baptist State Convention, but one can’t help but notice that the ad didn’t say, “pastor” or “Baptist Convention President.”

Finally, Huckabee declared on Fox News Sunday, “In fact, I’ve done everything I can to say I’ll be happy to talk about my faith. I’m not going to evaluate someone else’s.” The New York Times reported the following conversation of a week earlier:

I asked Huckabee, who describes himself as the only Republican candidate with a degree in theology, if he considered Mormonism a cult or a religion. ‘‘I think it’s a religion,’’ he said. ‘‘I really don’t know much about it.’’

I was about to jot down this piece of boilerplate when Huckabee surprised me with a question of his own: ‘‘Don’t Mormons,’’ he asked in an innocent voice, ‘‘believe that Jesus and the devil are brothers?’’