Huckabee Weighing Presidential Run Against TV Show Success?

Huckabee Weighing Presidential Run Against TV Show Success?


Mike Huckabee

I’d expect the former Arkansas Governor’s stock to drop significantly after the word gets out about how he views the presidency.

From Politico:

Mike Huckabee, the former Republican governor from Arkansas who has his own Fox show told Chris Wallace on “Fox News Sunday” that a 2012 presidential bid is “less than likely” and depends on whether Roger Ailes, the head of Fox News, keeps liking his show.

“The reason I wouldn’t is that this Fox gig I’ve got is really wonderful, ” he said, talking about whether or not he would get in the race given that he is a GOP front runner according to most recent polls. “Jumping into the pool, you gottta make sure there is some water in it.”

Now, I realize that this is the kind of “I could take it or leave it” attitude that some applauded Bush for, but I don’t think it’s going to fly in 2012. Republicans need a real leader who’s serious about the job, and having Huck say this so early and nonchalantly is bound to come back and bite him in the ass if he does decide to run.

Also, while Huckabee’s TV show is enjoying some limited ratings success, it’s still small potatoes in the grand scheme of things. Especially when compared with being the leader of the free world.

Somewhere, Mitt Romney is smiling.

  • gerryf

    All I need to know about Huckabee is what I learned yesterday when he had former game show host Chuck Woolery on his show as a worthy conservative commentator–yeah, a married four times, ex-Love Connection host is a paragon of “conservative values.”

  • Chris

    Good, hopefully he doesn’t get off the couch.

  • kranky kritter

    I can’t imagine this harming him one iota. Not sure what you are seeing either. This answer is a practically boilerplate, for anyone not ready to announce their candidacy to say how much they like their current job.

    But boy, these revelations about him having Chuck Woolery on his show, I think that ends his chances. Who cares what positions or views Huckabee might have. Woolery as a guest is just unforgiveable. Pretty silly stuff, Gerry. :-)

  • gerryf

    Ah Kranky, if only you could dig a little deeper. The sin isn’t that Huckabee invites light-weights like Woolery on his show–the sin is all he does is invite light-weights who agree with him on his show. Woolery, Chuck Norris, Paula Deen. His audience doesn’t want to be challenged and we need a serious person who will challenge this country if we want to crawl out of the mess we are in.

    But that’s OK. You keep thinking Huckabee is president material. That’s just what the Republican’s need to go up against the Dems in 2012.

  • http://sidewaysmencken.blogspot michael reynolds

    The guy being sought in the Washington police murders had his sentence commuted by Huckabee ten years ago.

    This should be interesting.

  • Frank Hagan

    Huckabee also said he would have to have the support of the GOP establishment, because its a pretty hard battle without it. The comment about liking his current job was his “throw away” line, and as

    Huckabee has a variety talk show, not unlike the late, late shows on after the Tonight Show and Dave Letterman (just an even lower budget). Its not meant to be cutting edge television or a political talk show … he has popular B-list “stars” like Woolery, a house band that he jams with, older rock groups like Lynard Skynard, etc. He’s making a lot more money, and having a lot more fun than when he was governor of Arkansas or running for President. Not sure I see any harm in that.

    A lot of Americans would vote for a folksy, common man, especially if they see it as an alternative to a professorial President. Huckabee was the only GOP candidate talking about the economy and how it was affecting middle America, echoing more the style of John Edward’s “Two Americas” than McCain’s “the fundamentals are strong” nonsense. And he’s proven he can govern, with more executive branch experience than any candidate in either the Dem or GOP race in 2008 (and more than any of the “front runners” I can think of for 2012).

    Huck’s achilles heel is his support of the so-called “Fair Tax”, a pie-in-the-sky proposal that would add 30% sales taxes to everything. Its a stunningly bad idea because of the bureaucracy needed to support it.

  • Nick Benjamin

    Huck’s biggest problem will be convincing fiscal conservatives to vote for him. This one time in the governor’s office he raised taxes.

    That’s not “Reaganesque” in the eyes of the current GOP base (which is a bit silly, because Reagan raised taxes once, albeit to a lower level than they had been when he began his tenure).

  • mike mcEachran

    Huck’s got a Willie Horton AND he raised taxes…? Sounds bad – that hurts him more than the FOX show announcement. But I’ll bet the GOP base can overlook both to get a little bit of the “their”god back in the “white” house.

  • WHQ

    If I might butt in, I think gerry and kk are talking past each other a bit. gerry discusses why he doesn’t like Huckabee as a candidate and kk discusses why those things won’t matter to a large segment of potential Huckabee voters. I mostly agree with both of them and, as far as I can tell, I’m not insane.

    Huckabee’s got Christian and populist appeal, which do overlap some, maybe a lot. To Nick’s point regarding fiscal conservatives, I think he can largely overcome that with his populism. Most self-identified fiscal conservatives, it seems to me, don’t really know what that means. If he talks about jobs and middle-class families, that will appeal to most of them.

    The ones he won’t be able to get are the true country-club or corporatist or Wall Street Republicans, of which there aren’t that many. In terms of their influence over the internal power structure of the GOP, I’d say they are a major force. But strictly in terms of numbers of voters, not so much. And, ironically, they tend to be in very reliable blue states, making them even less of a factor in electoral matters.

  • Trescml

    I think the only people that this would cause any real concern is potential donors and anyone who shells out big money will find out beforehand if Huckabee is serious. The Seattle problem is going to be a bigger issue. Somewhere Mitt Romney is smiling.

  • Nick Benjamin

    I doubt Mitt is smiling about Huckabee’s Hornton. He’s actually a human being, with a soul and everything; even if he acts like a robot. And very few people actually enjoy getting ahead via a cop-killer.

    As for the GOP primary, Huckabee won’t crack 30% in Michigan. He raised taxes, Michigan’s GOP base is convinced taxes are too high by definition, therefore he’s not really one of them. I’d be surprised if we’re the only state with a GOP that extreme on taxes.

    Not that Mitt Romney, son of former Michigan Governor George Romney, needs the help.

  • wm mcinnis

    huckabee has a successful fox show??.,never seen it.,,huckabee is a goober. my nicname for him when he was running for president was huckaphony.,
    he reminds me of gomer pile., golly gee Sargent carter.,he has alot of experience weighing things.,he used to be fat as a horse. i didnt much care for the other arkansas politician,,bill clinton,,another phony.,,

    its all about sarah now anyways.,these rejected retreads are done. that includes romney.,

  • kranky kritter


    Sometimes my comments about a candidate’s viability are statements of my own measure of that person’s skills and aptitude. Other times, my comments speak to my sense of how that candidate is doing in appealing to the general public. It’s important to make this distinction if you want to understand what I am saying.

    I think Huckabee is doing a very good job of appealing to the same base that Sara Palin is courting. In addition, he is doing a far better job of appealing to moderately conservative folks who tabbed Sara Palin a lightweight from the get-go.

    You seem to think that Huckabee is exposing himself by his choice of guests. You’re just less than half right. He is exposing himself in the way you think only to that portion of the population that would never vote for Huckabee or Palin in a million years.

    I agree with you that Huckabee’s show currently veers strongly to being a back-patting choir-preaching revival. Yet my sense in all this is that Huckabee is a very smart guy who is playing it cagey and looking longer term. If one presumes that Huckabee still wants to be President, then you have to presume that he took this job with the presidency still in mind. I think he’s playing nice and cool because now is the time to do that. Make friends. Build bridges. Assemble a team. Keep saying how much you like your job. Slowly turn up the heat over the next year and a half, give or take.

    The time to ramp things up and get hot will be later. When the right time comes for him to put some notches on his belt by clobbering some hapless liberals, he’ll do it. But he’ll do it with poise and articulation. IOW, I think you are underestimating him. I don’t want Huckabee to be President. And I think he’s a substantially bigger threat than Palin, especially if he can clear the primary field of any folks after the same constituency as him.

    I’m guessing of course. But if I was the only major candidate with a TV show, that’s how I would do it. I would carefully leverage the show for all it was worth while delaying my official entrance into the race until the time when the show had given me the maximum boost. And again, if that’s what he does, it’s virtually certain to make all the folks who would never ever vote for him absolutely furious. Which won’t affect his viability. Because people who have occasion to sometimes vote blue and sometimes vote red won’t really mind that much, being more pragmatic or even cynical than average.

    Like you say, Huckabee has told you all YOU really need to know. That’s fine with Huckabee, he has no expectation whatsoever of getting your vote. Which should be fine with you, since you have already made up your mind, right?

  • gerryf

    You make some valid points, many of which I agree with. But once again, you presume to know more about others than you actually do. I actually liked Huckabee throughout most of the campaign. It was only after watching him more closely that I began to find him as unacceptable candidate for president. His choice of guests merely reaffirms that.

    So, I will grant that his choice of guests isn’t “all I need to know” about him. But his choice of guess doesn’t make me rethink my earlier position either.

    Other than that, I think you are spot on as to what Huckabee is doing. I would, however, argue that thr ground work he is laying now (if he is doing that) is exactly the wrong kind of groundwork if he wants to be considered a serious candidate.

    Sure, he can become a pol-celebrity like Sarah Palin, but only the avidfans will vote for him–and that is not how you win elections.

  • Nick Benjamin

    Keep in mind that under FCC rules a broadcaster can’t give free time to one candidate without giving free time to any candidate, and a show counts. Several Detroit TV and radio hosts have had to quit to run for office. If they hadn’t their stations would have needed to give every candidate an hour a day. And given that most of them ran for Council and there are usually 100-200 council candidates…

  • kranky kritter

    Gerry, my impression was that you had clearly already made up your mind about Huckabee. I based “he has no expectation whatsoever of getting your vote” on your statement that you had seen all you needed. I thought I was simply re-stating what you had declared.

    On the basis of my admiration for open-mindedness, it’s good to know that you were not utterly opposed to Huckabee from the get go. As I try to stress so often, it’s important for us to each take our own measure of people in a legitimate way, not based on 2nd and 3rd hand reports and spin.

    If I’ve made too many presumptions about your viewpoints, I apologize and will try to do better.

    As to Huckabee’s show and how he’ll use it tactically, I still think his approach is the correct one for a conservative. History suggests strongly to me that to become President, almost every successful candidate has tacked towards the supporting wing during the primaries and then tacked back to the center for the general election.

    I’m sure you are right that Huckabee loses the votes of some moderate political junkies by his behavior, but you and I both need to remember that most people (95% or more, I’d hazard) are paying no attention whatsoever to likely candidates for 2012 aside from their occasional interjection into public consciousness like with Palin and her book and attempted re-branding tour.

    And here’s a Huckabee connection on that point. It’s pretty obvious to me that while Huckabee’s show is not hurting him with moderates, the story of his furlough policies while governor (related to the recent murders of 4 police officers in Tacoma Washington) has seriously harmed his aspirations. It harms him seriously with law and order conservatives, and I have little doubt that anti-Huckabee opportunists will throw the same dukakiswood logs on the fire that would have appalled them when Dukakis got sandbagged.

    I don’t think his show is on the radar of most moderates. Many may have watched once or twice and quickly gotten bored or even aggravated by the content. But the likely response is just to stop watching. To me that means that as Huckabee’s candidacy evolved, he would be able to remind previously interested moderates why they liked him, if he became the GOP nominee.

    But the furlough story really can’t be spun positively. It’s hurting him now, and it will hurt him again when it comes up again, should Huckabee run. As time passes, speculation about Huckabee running will focus on shite like “insiders say Huckabee has doubts about his viability in the wake of the scandal over his role in releasing the man who murdered 4 police officers in washington…”

  • kranky kritter

    Keep in mind that under FCC rules a broadcaster can’t give free time to one candidate without giving free time to any candidate, and a show counts. Several Detroit TV and radio hosts have had to quit to run for office.

    Right, That’s why we can be sure that Huckabee will delay his official entry into the race for as long as he can, should he decide to run. It explains why Huckabee answered a question about his potential candidacy by saying how much he liked his current job.

    If Huckabee does decide to run, we can be sure that a clamor will arise about his show as his intentions become more and more transparent. This will mean MORE free publicity as Huckabee become more pointed in his views.

    I wonder how outdated rules such as the one Nick cites will fare over the next decade as technology advances. I presume that it can’t possibly take more than a decade or so before most of us experience high-quality direct ala-carte on-demand access to whatever we want in the way of visual infotainment, at little or no cost, and with fewer middlemen in the way.

    Imagine for example that someone like a Huckabee decides to simply make his show available as part of an ongoing official campaign, not as a network broadcast show. The line between politics and entertainment would be totally obscured, and I doubt the FCC could do boo about it without running afoul of free speech rights.

    The most amusing thing about this to me is that the name of the guy would be Huckabee, the guy who made political huckstering into entertainment the government couldn’t shut down. Pretty Dickensian. Huckabee, for “be a huckster.” Just as amusing is that the irony would be lost on most folks.

  • Nick Benjamin

    Smart Dems won’t say jack about this scandal. If asked they’ll probably question Huckabee’s judgment, but they won’t go out of their way to diss him.

    For one thing it’s a waste of time. His GOP rivals, and the piranhas in the conservative commentariat will rip him to shreds without their help. Talking about him = going off-message.

    For another the ideal situation for a Dem insider is that Huckabee dodges this one, gets nominated, and then we can beat the GOP nominee over the head with it.

    BTW, this is actually usually the smart move in politics when a potential opponent is hit by a scandal. Whose more likely to get yur vote — Huckabee, some creep whose entire campaign is “I didn’t let a cop-killer out,” or the guy who said some pathetic BS about judgment?

  • whitneymuse

    I held my nose and voted McCain; won’t do that again for Mike Huckabee; we really are in need of someone who has led the economic team; and knows what coservativism is. That’s not a Huckster.

  • mc

    Of course he’s human, but he’s also an infuriating man who wouldn’t go away when he had no chance of the nomination, taking away Romney’s in the process. And he’s getting fat again, the scandal must be getting to him.

  • Slarti

    I thought I read something about Huckabee laying the groundwork for another run in Iowa as soon as the 2008 election was over. Then of course, he stayed in the primary longer after it was clear that he had no path to beat McCain. Lastly, you have his show on FOX. These are all things that indicate that he will run again.

    I wonder how many people could change their minds if Palin throws her hat in the ring.

    my political forum

  • dvr

    yea when did huckabee have a successful show on fox? thats news to me! i didnt know that was actually successful…

  • Peter

    I was never a fan of Huckabee’s TV show! I don’t like the way he handles his show.