Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee said this morning that he understands Hillary Clinton better than any other Republican candidate in the presidential race, and thus would be her most formidable opponent in a general election.
Speaking to reporters at an American Spectator Newsmaker Breakfast held at Grover Norquist’s Americans for Tax Reform, Huckabee also took thinly-veiled shots at some of his Republican rivals in an effort to establish himself as the most conservative candidate.
“I have a consistency about what I’ve said and what I’ve done that is unmatched by virtually any other candidate,” Huckabee said in a clear dig at Mitt Romney. “There’s not going to be any YouTube moments of me saying I was once pro-choice and now I’m pro-life. Once for same-sex relationships now I’m against it. Once I was for the Brady and assault ban treaties, now I’m against it.”
Although not by name, he also took a shot at John McCain for his previous opposition to the Bush tax cuts: “I’m not one who just decided to be for the Bush tax cuts because I am running for president. If you want to check the record you’ll find that some candidates have had some recent adult epiphanies.”
In a likely reference to Rudy Giuliani, Huckabee said: “The worst argument I’ve heard is that we need to nominate somebody who is left-of-center, because that way America will vote for them…Do Republicans really want to go out and vote for someone who is more of a Democrat than a Republican?”
When pressed by Terry Jeffrey as to whether a good Christian who opposes same-sex relationships and abortion should vote for a third party candidate if Republicans nominated Giuliani, Huckabee warned that if Christians just vote for whoever is the Republican nominee rather than the president “they become just another partisan special interest group.” He said he considers himself a “Christian first, and a Republican second.” Asked whether that meant he himself would vote for a third party candidate if Giuliani were the nominee, he was evasive. Huckabee said that by nominating himself, the party wouldn’t have to face such a choice. Though he complimented Giuliani’s accomplishments in New York City, he was dismissive of Giuliani’s chances of capturing the nomination. “I don’t think we’re going there, I really don’t.”
Meanwhile, he said his experience with the Clintons in Arkansas would make him the strongest Republican candidate against Hillary.
“Nobody knows her better who is in the Republican race for president,” Huckabee said. “Nobody would be able to wage a more effective and skilled campaign against her.”
I’m off to another event now, but I will have more details on some of his policy views later in the day.