Gov. Huckabee: Without Social Conservatives, the GOP Is Irrelevant

In an interview with the Visalia Times-Delta, former Arkansas Governor and GOP candidate for President Mike Huckabee suggests that without social conservatives the Republican Party will be as irrelevant as the extinct Whigs. Problem there is that with social conservatives in the GOP, the Republicans are as vibrant and up-to-date as the Know Nothing party.

Here's what I find: People that are social conservatives are also economic conservatives. But a lot of the economic conservatives are not social conservatives. Throw the social conservatives the pro-life, pro-family people overboard and the Republican party will be as irrelevant as the Whigs [the short-lived 19th century political party].

They'll basically be a party of gray-haired old men sitting around the country club puffing cigars, sipping brandy and wondering whatever happened to the country. That will be the end of the party.

Because the energy that is supplied for knocking on doors and working neighborhoods and getting out the vote, it comes from people who are passionate about human life and about traditional marriage. Those are the same people that believe in national security, less government and lower taxes.

I see people saying, "Well, we don't really want to get into these issues like Úlife'." You do that and you lose the evangelicals, you lose the Catholics, you lose basically a whole lot of people who aren't even religious but through common sense know that that's a ridiculous position to take and call yourself conservative.

Being the party of failed economic doctrines and the party of no and isn't exactly a winning proposition but couple that with being the party of hate and it is likely to be fatal or perhaps better put the party of 30%.

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Gay People Can Be Judges But Not Spouses

Jeff Sessions - who couldn't get his own judicial nomination through a GOP Judiciary Committee even after flip-flopping to the correct position on whether the NAACP or the KKK poses a greater threat to the Republic - is now tying himself in knots over whether he would have a problem with a gay Supreme Court nominee per se, or just with one who believed gay people should have the same rights as everyone else.  I'm sure when Strom Thurmond voted against Thurgood Marshall's nomination to the Court, it had nothing to do with him being Black - just with him being a Black man who believed Black people should have their equal protection rights protected.

But while it's funny/ sad/ ridiculous to watch Sessions and Co. squirm in saying first that "identity politics" are bad and then that we should be concerned that a gay nominee would make people "uneasy," or hear the Family Research Council signal openness to a gay nominee without "pro-gay ideology," there's a reason these guys are struggling to say something coherent: Open gay-bashing is becoming less popular in America, but it's hard to explain why LGBT people shouldn't have equal rights if we're not inferior Americans.

It's not by accident that the right-wing opposition to gay equality is a moving target.

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Huckabee headlines "Fair Tax" rally in South Carolina

Mike Huckabee spoke today at a South Carolina rally organized by Americans for Fair Taxation. (Hat tip to Bob Vander Plaats, a gubernatorial candidate who was Huckabee's Iowa chairman during the last presidential campaign.)

Of the many bad economic policy ideas Republicans have floated in recent years, the so-called "fair tax" has to be one of the worst. However, Huckabee's embrace of the "fair tax"was a key factor in his surge of support among Iowa Republicans during the summer of 2007. It was one of the few issues that distinguished Huckabee from a crowded field of social conservatives.

If Huckabee does run for president again in 2012, it looks as if he'll be running on the same economic platform. Will the "fair tax" become widely popular among Republicans outside Iowa by then? Your guess is as good as mine.

This thread is for any comments about Huckabee or tax policy. I would love to see some polling data on the Iowans who caucused for Huckabee last year. Are they committed to sticking with him if he runs again, or would they keep their minds open for Sarah Palin or perhaps some Republican who's not well-known today? My impression from talking with a few Huckabee fans is that they still like him but would give serious consideration to the alternatives.

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Down for the count: The real fight for 2012

The fight for 2012 is here. Beltway media insiders rejoice!

Who's it going to be? Spunky Sarah? Moneyed Mitt? Holy Huckabee? Some dark-horse candidate flying under the radar? One thing is for sure: While the media clamors for every tiny detail in the looming battle for the Republican presidential nomination, the real fight for 2012 is taking place right before their very eyes.

Conventional-wisdom channelers in Washington, wittingly or not, have already been put to use by conservatives so determined to win that few facts remain untwisted. The fight over the 2010 census, which will ultimately dictate how congressional districts are drawn in 2012 and potentially influence party control of Congress for years to come, has already started.

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Huckabee and Jindal go after social conservatives in Iowa

Skip this post if you think it's too early to start talking about the 2012 presidential campaign just because Barack Obama hasn't been inaugurated yet.

Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, the winner of the 2008 Iowa caucuses, was back in the state this week. On Thursday he held book signings that attracted some 600 people in Cedar Rapids and an even larger crowd in a Des Moines suburb. According to the Des Moines Register, he "brushed off talk of a 2012 run" but

brought to Iowa a prescription for the national Republican Party, which he said has wandered from its founding principles.

"There is no such thing as fiscal conservativism without social conservativism," Huckabee said. "We really should be governing by a moral code that we live by, which can be summed up in the phrase: Do unto others as you'd have them do unto you."

Governing by that principle would lead to a more humane society, with lower crime and poverty rates, creating less demand on government spending, he said.

Huckabee was accompanied on Thursday by Bob Vander Plaats, who chaired his Iowa campaign for president. Vander Plaats has sought the Republican nomination for Iowa governor twice and is expected to run again in 2010. He recently came out swinging against calls for the Iowa GOP to move to the middle following its latest election losses. The Republican caucuses in the Iowa House and the Iowa Senate elected new leadership this month, and the state party will choose a new chairman in January. Vander Plaats is likely to be involved in a bruising battle against those who want the new chairman to reach out more to moderates.

Many Iowans who didn't come to Huckabee's book signings heard from him anyway this week, as he became the first politician to robocall Iowa voters since the November election. The calls ask a few questions in order to identify voters who oppose abortion rights, then ask them to donate to the National Right to Life Council. According to Iowa Independent, the call universe included some Democrats and no-party voters as well as registered Republicans. Raising money for an anti-abortion group both keeps Huckabee in front of voters and scores points with advocates who could be foot-soldiers during the next caucus campaign.

Meanwhile, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal made two stops in Iowa yesterday. Speaking in Cedar Rapids,

Jindal said America's culture is one of the things that makes it great, but warned that its music, art and constant streams of media and communication have often moved in the wrong direction.

"There are things we can do as private citizens working together to strengthen our society," he said. "Our focus does not need to be on fixing the (Republican) party," he said. "Our focus needs to be on how to fix America."

I'm really glad to hear he's not worried about fixing the party that record-high disapproval ratings, according to Gallup.

Later in the day, Jindal headlined a fundraiser in West Des Moines for the Iowa Family Policy Center. He said he wasn't there to talk politics (as if what follows isn't a politically advantageous message for that audience):

"It all starts with family and builds outward from there," said the first-term Jindal, who was making his first visit to Iowa. "As a parent, I'm acutely aware of the overall coarsening of our culture in many ways."

The governor said technology such as television and the Internet are conduits for corrupting children, which he also believes is an issue agreed upon across party lines.

"As governor, I can't censor anything or take away anyone's freedom of speech - nor do I want to if I could," he said, "but I can still control what my kids watch, what they hear and what they read."

The problem is that parents who want to control what their kids read often try to do so by limiting what other people's kids can read. A couple near Des Moines

are fighting to restrict access to the children's book "And Tango Makes Three" at East Elementary School in Ankeny. The book is the story of two male penguins who raise a chick together.

The Ankeny parents want it either removed or moved to the parents-only section, arguing that it promotes homosexuality and same-sex couples as normal and that children are too young to understand the subject.

Gay rights are sure to be an issue in the next Republican caucus campaign, especially if the Iowa Supreme Court rules in favor of marriage equality next year. The court will soon hear oral arguments in a gay marriage case.

For now, though, it's enough for Jindal to speak generally about "family" and "culture" and raise his name recognition among the religious conservatives who have often crowned the winner in the Iowa caucuses.

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