Alec Hamilton, Assistant Producer, WNYC News
Alec Hamilton is an Assistant Producer in the WNYC newsroom. She produces Morning Edition and starts her work day very, very early.
Mike Huckabee is something of a renaissance man.
Not only did he serve as Governor of Arkansas for a full decade, not only did he run for president last time around (and come in first in the Iowa caucus), and not only is he one of the emerging contenders for the 2012 presidential race. He also plays bass in a rock band, has created a 12-step weight-loss program, runs marathons, was named Man of the Year by the American Sportsfishing Association in 1997, and knows how to cook squirrel in a popcorn popper. And, of course, he loves some Lynyrd Sknyrd.
The former Southern Baptist minister and current talk show host has not formally announced his intention to run and says that he won’t make a decision until possibly April. Yet his charisma and sense of humor play well to people, as evidenced by this Youtube video of Huckabee and Chuck Norris, which has received over 3 million views. (“There’s no chin behind Chuck Norris’ beard,” Huckabee says in the video, “only another fist.”)
He may get far with his down-home sensibilities, social conservatism, and politics that don't always fall along the party line. And he's a master with the soundbite — a shrewd communicator with folksy affectations. Steve Schmidt, John McCain’s former campaign manager, referred to him as the GOP's "most articulate guy."
Huckabee faces a tough battle, though. As governor, Huckabee raised taxes in Arkansas, and he has broken ranks with the Republican Party on several other issues, including cap and trade and the Zadroga 9/11 Health Care bill. He went on the Daily Show with Jon Stewart recently to explain why he wanted his fellow Republicans to support the bill to provide health care to 9/11 responders.
Taxing and Spending:
During his last attempt at the presidency, Huckabee drew fire from other Republicans for his record of increasing taxes as governor of Arkansas. While Huckabee defended himself by claiming that, among other things, his decision to raise taxes was the result of a state Supreme Court order and that he cut taxes "almost 94 times," the website factcheck.org calls Huckabee's claims "misleading and incorrect."
Campaign War Chest:
His primary campaign contributor so far has been the Stephens Group, a capital investment fund, though he also got more than $24,000 from Wal-Mart. (Huckabee has said that he represents “Wal-Mart Republicans, not Wall Street Republicans.”)
He supports Israel's construction of settlements on the West Bank.
He referred to the war in Iraq as a "worldwide war that is on fire" with a "theological base", being waged against "Islamic fascists who really would like to annihilate us... they believe that God has put them on this planet so that they will bring a complete cleansing of all the infidels -- which they consider us to be." though he has also said the answer is that "the balance of moderate Muslims will have to take a more visible and, frankly, vocal role in bringing a sense of balance and sanity within the Islamic community."
Huckabee has said he feels there is a hint of racism behind some of the anit-immigrant rhetoric. In a 2007 interview with George Stephanopoulos, Huckabee said "I'm concerned that our borders are porous and we're allowing people to come in and out without any real check as to who they are, where they're going, why they're here, do they have a communicable disease or a criminal background? We need to know those things. I'm not as worried about somebody who's coming across to pluck a chicken or pick a tomato or make a better La Quinta. I'm particularly concerned about somebody who might cross this border with a shoulder-fired missile. But even those people who are coming to pluck chickens and pick tomatoes, frankly, I want them to come in an orderly way. I want them to cross the border legally.
Guns and Drugs:
Huckabee also opposes legalizing marijuana, even for medical use.
Huckabee has called the Mexican drug cartels the United States' "most urgent security challenge."
Huckabee supports cap and trade and acknowledges that “climate change is here and it’s real."
While Huckabee has gone as far as advocating a constitutional amendment to ban abortion, he offers veiled criticism of the anti-abortion movement. "I believe life begins at conception; I just don't think it ends at birth. And that's why, as a governor, I've fourth hard to see children have medical insurance and decent schools and safe neighborhoods and drinking water and affordable housing, because that's consistent with me being pro-life. I don't want to see some single mom, you know, worry and struggle that she's not going to be able to have food for her kids. I don't want some wife to have the daylights beaten out of her by some abusive husband and have nowhere to turn." Huckabee also instituted the "Choose Life" license plates in Arkansas.
Huckabee opposes allowing marriage for same-sex couples. He wants to change the Constitution to specifically prohibit gay people from getting married, refers to homosexuality “sinful and unnatural” and is said to be fond of telling audiences, “It’s Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve.” In an interview last year for the New Yorker, Huckabee said “We can get into the ick factor, but the fact is two men in a relationship, two women in a relationship, biologically, that doesn’t work the same.”
The Origins of the Species:
Huckabee has publicly (and testily) supported the theory of creationism and in the past has argued that students should be taught creationism as an alternative to evolution in school.
"Republicans underestimate Hillary Clinton at their own peril. She's a brilliant woman, brilliant intellectually, and she's brilliant politically," Huckabee said in 2007.