Huckabee once joked that his state was a “banana republic,” and he certainly appeared to run his state like one. In all, Huckabee has been investigated 14 times in 14 years for ethics violations while in public office. He’s been admonished five separate times. Recently, he was criticized for registering at Target for housewarming gifts after he and his wife moved into a new home after leaving the governor’s mansion.
“Huckabee likes to talk about losing more than 100 pounds, maybe he should focus on losing that Arkansas attitude about running an anything goes government,” said a spokesman for a Republican opponent for the nomination who has worked with Huckabee on some issues in the past. “This is not a candidacy Republicans should be embracing.”
But as the only authentic Southern Republican in the race, Huckabee, an ordained minister, is likely to garner strong support, particularly from social conservatives.
Unfortunately, Huckabee, who appeared at the National Review Institute’s “conservative summit” on Sunday morning, sounded a lot like other candidates already in the race. He parroted Sen. Sam Brownback’s support for a flat tax, for example.
But his track record in Arkansas doesn’t reveal him to be the “authentic” conservative that he claims to be. In the past he has advocated raising taxes on Arkansans. He says he supports President Bush’s position on Iraq, though sources familiar with Huckabee’s thinking say that he is looking at “third ways” to propose regarding Iraq policy while on the campaign trail. As governor, he supported providing state services for illegal immigrants.
But it’s his ethics lapses — some of them minor, which only raises questions about his judgment further — that some conservatives will find most troubling, and which Republican and Democrat challengers for the presidency will find most fruitful in attacking him, say political consultants. “Some of the stuff he’s been dinged on has been a couple hundred dollars in donations, really small stuff that he just should have known better to accept,” says a Democrat political consultant. “At least when the Clintons got hit, it was tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars.”
Further diminishing Huckabee’s positioning? A Club for Growth report on Huckabee’s tax and economic growth policies, which many expect will be embarrassing to the former governor.
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