Saturday, April 02, 2005

Candidate Profile Sixteen: Mike Huckabee

Former Arkansas governor Bill Clinton was ribbed on Saturday Night Live and elsewhere as a man perhaps a bit too fond of fast food and a little too wide around the waistband. The current governor of Arkansas, Mike Huckabee, once tipped the scales at 280, and was told at 47 he was living his last decade after being diagnosed with adult-onset diabetes. Now he's running marathons, plugging weight loss books, and (probably) mounting a presidential bid. The moral? The man has discipline, and discipline should never be underestimated.

Mike Huckabee - good bio here at Wikipedia

Good Huckabee 2008 side (Disclaimer: Blue State Republican, who maintains this site, suggested some of the links in this profile. I happily used the information (thanks!), but the conclusions and the substance of the profile are my own.)

Resume - born in Hope (deja-vu all over again), moved up from lieutenant governor to governor following the resignation in disgrace of Jim Guy Tucker; has served as Arkansas's 44th governor since 1996, but term limits preclude another run; chairman of the Education Commission of the States; author of 4 books; seminary graduate and former pastor; active in many regional and state organizations; outdoorsman; bass player

Borrowing from his own personal experience, Huckabee has made health a major focus of his Arkansas administration, and it would surely figure prominently in a presidential run. It's an attractive issue, and one that has a huge degree of relevance in this fast food nation of ours. For this reason alone, a Huckabee run would be welcome, as it would focus attention on an issue that needs to be addressed.

Handicapping a Huckabee candidacy is difficult. There are some large cons: he doesn't have the name recognition of Condi, McCain, or Rudy G., but neither does Mark Sanford, who I have as a dark horse. This article is a good example of how easy it is to go either way with Huckabee; one expert says forget it, another says don't be so hasty, and round and round we go.

Huckabee has certainly earned some good markers he can cash in with his political activity, and he has a boost coming from his chairmanship of the National Governors Association and his upcoming book release.

I'm going to rate Huckabee's chances higher than most, I suspect, for the following reasons:
  1. He's a southern governor, and we've seen that as a launch pad for many a White House bid.
  2. As mentioned, he's earned some political chits with his active participation in regional associations.
  3. He has a ready-made issue that will resonate with a large portion of the public.
  4. His roots as a pastor, while perhaps a net minus in the general election, are a definite plus in the primaries.
  5. He's a heck of a lot better than that other Arkansas native getting presidential talk...
I would sum up my thoughts on a Huckabee candidacy as follows: he's not a front-runner, and maybe not a legitimate dark horse yet, but he brings some very attractive qualities to the table, and he might make an excellent choice for a VP pick, even if he comes up short for the big prize.


UPDATE 04/03/05 12:15 pm central:
in the comments, crit quite rightly reminds me that Hillary is not an Arkansas native; she is, in fact, from Park Ridge, sincerest apologies to all native Arkansas readers...

UPDATE 07/24/2005 10:56 p.m.:

see here...

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