The Campaign Spot

Beware Jovial Mike Huckabee’s Sharp Elbows

From the Tuesday Morning Jolt:

Mike Huckabee Is Back. Rivals Beware.

For a long time, the conventional wisdom on Mike Huckabee was that he had leveraged his 2008 presidential campaign into one of the sweetest positions in the conservative movement: a $500,000 per year contract with Fox News that gave him a weekend show where he could opine on the news, interview guests, and play with his band, as well as book deals (including a bestseller), paid speaking gigs, and radio commentaries (separate from his now-canceled radio show). He was influential without much pressure or scrutiny; well-liked and funny and not particularly threatening to anyone else in the conservative movement. He built his dream house on the Florida coast.

Run for president again? And give up all that to spend the winter months staying at the Holiday Inn in small Iowa cities night after night?

So whatever your view on Huckabee’s brand of conservatism, give the man some credit – he’s willing to get back into the arena, put in the work, and take the criticism in a bid that, let’s face it, does not face great odds.

Ramesh noted that if Huckabee wants to win this time around, he’ll have to put serious effort into broadening his appeal to non-Evangelical voters. I’ll just add that in person, Huckabee is one of the nicest guys imaginable, and on the stump he effectively uses humor and comes across as a really jovial figure.

But the guy’s got a sharp elbow, particularly when it comes to late-campaign tactics. A lot of Republicans could say, “I disagree with the Club for Growth in some areas”; it’s another thing to call them “the Club for Greed.” He announced that he won’t run negative ads, and then, during a press conference, show reporters the negative ad he decided not to run – knowing that the press will effectively transmit the message for free. He’s willing to campaign on his faith – particularly in Iowa – in ways others might find shameless. He’ll stretch the truth when an exaggeration helps him. His opponents will underestimate him and his amiable style right up until the moment he metaphorically kicks them in the crotch.

This may take him far, or it may not. If it doesn’t, there’s a good chance Fox News or some other network will need a host for weekend slot in 2017.

You never see the punch coming from Mr. Nice Guy.

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