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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Ol’ Huck Keeping His Options Open

For some reason, Politico today did a big feature on Mike Huckabee’s interest in a 2012 presidential run, said to be a 50/50 proposition. The only real downside involves money. Huck woud have to give up his Fox show and his paid speaking gigs to run, and he’s not a very rich man by Republican standards. Just as importantly, given his infamous inability in 2008, to raise enough money to rub two quarters together, he does not appear to be spending a lot of time hanging out with the kind of people who could raise him some serious jack or dump tons of money into “independent” ads on his behalf.
If he does run, Huckabee has some very serious advantages that would not only give him a chance, but would create strategic headaches for his primary opponents. He would be the early frontrunner in Iowa, where he won last time despite being vastly outspent by Mitt Romney He also did well in South Carolina, and has boosted his odds (already bright if he again gets the support of Senator-Elect Marco Rubio) in Florida by moving there. And he has a guaranteed national base in the Christian Right.
How should Democrats feel about Huck? He has a surprising reservoir of good will from many progressives in part because he’s not a snarler, and in part because he was the rare Republican who didn’t routinely defend Wall Street or pretend the economy was just great in 2008 (qualities that alienated him from the GOP’s Economic Royalist wing). But look a little deeper, and Huckabee shares every obnoxious position Republicans have taken since they lurched heavilty to the right after 2008, in addition to his better-known hard-core stand on cultural issues like abortion and gay rights. There’s also reportedly a rich lode of crazy stuff in his large library of sermons, which presumably oppo research types are plumbing as we speak.
Huck’s been doing relatively well in trial heats against Obama, but it’s not clear the public really knows that much about him beyond his genial personality and his weight-loss saga. In the meantime, his threat to enter the race has got to be maddening to those conservative poobahs looking for some oxygen for a dark horse like Daniels or Thune or Pence. Even if Huckabee doesn’t do that well, he will soak up votes wherever he runs, and showed in 2008 that he’s got the stamina to run a campaign on fumes. I wouldn’t count him out, particularly if he gets another clear shot to beat Mitt Romney in Iowa.

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