Las Vegas – Mike Huckabee, a longtime ally of Tony Perkins and other conservative leaders who last week secretly voted to endorse Ted Cruz for president, says it’s “disappointing” the group decided to back a relative newcomer like Cruz.
In a brief interview here following Tuesday’s Republican presidential debate, Huckabee says he was made aware of the group’s decision, but wasn’t given any explanation.
“For reasons I don’t fully understand, years and years of actually doing something and getting things done didn’t matter,” Huckabee said of the group’s deliberations. ”And I don’t understand that.”
Perkins said in an interview last fall that he ultimately expected the competition for the support of conservative movement leaders to come down to Cruz versus Huckabee, both of whom have personal friendships with the Family Research Council president and had already begun courting prominent activists ahead of their 2016 bids.
The former Arkansas governor has longstanding ties to the social conservative movement, which in 2008 helped him win Iowa and become a household name in Republican politics. Much of that support was expected to carry over into the 2016 campaign. But enthusiasm for Huckabee diminished over the summer as he struggled to raise money and faded in the polls. In the end, Marco Rubio supplanted Huckabee as Cruz’s chief rival for the group’s backing, but failed to prevent the Texas senator from winning a 75 percent supermajority.
Huckabee, according to sources, has often reminded Perkins and his fellow influencers that a major reason he gave up his Fox News show and launched a 2016 campaign was because he expected to have their backing. Their decision to instead support Cruz, then, seemed to sting Huckabee personally as much as politically.
“You know, everybody has a right to do what they want to do. But it was disappointing to me. These are guys I’ve worked with for years and years. Many of them I’ve helped with their projects and their various endeavors,” Huckabee says, shaking his head. A moment later, he adds, “But you know, that’s life.”