October 28, 2007

Responding to Attacks

As Huckabee continues to rise – now surpassing Romney nationally – you can also expect that negative attacks will increase, and they certainly have. The Governor and his supporters should wear them like badges of honor. He is finally being recognized as a legitimate contender for the nomination.

Time Magazine noted yesterday how Romney has begun to attack Huckabee:

If you are looking for signs that a dark horse is moving up in the presidential field, there is a more telling indicator to watch than poll numbers. It's when the opposition decides he is becoming enough of a threat to take a shot at him. That's why there was special signficance, an arrival of sorts, to Mitt Romney's seemingly offhand observation Friday in an Iowa Public Television interview that Mike Huckabee had supported "special tuition breaks to the children of illegal immigrants." It marked the first time that the GOP frontrunner in Iowa had ever singled out Huckabee for an attack.

"I must be doing well," Huckabee said Saturday morning, when I told him what Romney had said. The former Arkansas Governor had not known about the swipe. Huckabee had spent Friday night, as he put it, "rocking the stage" with his band Capitol Offense before an estimated 650 people at the fabled Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake, Iowa, which was the last place Buddy Holly had played before he died in a plane crash in 1959. On Saturday, Huckabee was to try his hand at pheasant hunting, a popular Iowa sport, which he considered an apt metaphor. "You never put the crosshairs on a dead carcass," Huckabee said. "Somebody sees me as a real wall mount, and that's a good thing."

Huckabee is suddenly looking like he could make a very strong showing in the nation's first presidential contest on January 3. The buzz started building with his surprising second-place finish in August's Ames straw poll. Then, the ordained Southern Baptist minister wowed them at this month's Values Voter Summit. It is beginning to look like he may be the one for the GOP's yet-unsettled evangelical voters, who tend to wield an outsized influence in the Iowa caucuses.

His successes have been all the more remarkable for having been accomplished on a shoestring budget, suggesting that genuine voter affection, as opposed to advertising dollars, is driving the Huckabee surge. He noted that Friday also marked the first time he had passed the well-financed Romney in a national poll, albeit by a single, well-within-the-margin-of-error point. "I guess I'd be coming after me too," Huckabee said. "I'd also be crying, if I'd spent all that money."

Still, Huckabee acknowledged it is likely to get much rougher from here. "I always enjoy letting the other guy draw the first blood," he told me. "Once blood is drawn, all is fair in love and war."
One significant attack that came out this past Friday was a column by John Fund of the Wall Street Journal. An excellent rebuttal can be found at The Roebuck Report:
Huckabee’s social conservative track record is unrivaled by any one else in the GOP field. Front runners Romney, Giuliani, McCain and actor Fred Thompson don’t even come close to the consistency of Huckabee’s social conservatism, which is ultimately where Fund’s analysis of Huckabee falls apart. When Huckabee is talking about being consistently conservative, he is talking about the promotion of the sanctity of life, opposition to gay marriage and other core social conservative values that his opponents have flip flopped on enough times to rival John Kerry.

Every year while governor, Huckabee led the line in Arkansas’ annual Right to Life march. Huckabee also led efforts to pass a state constitutional amendment recognizing marriage as a bond between one man and one woman. Finally, Huckabee was proactive in helping to strengthen marriages in Arkansas by promoting “Covenant Marriages” as an option in Arkansas, where couples must see counseling before a judge will grant a divorce on grounds of convenience.

Contrary to Fund’s assertion that Huckabee is an inconsistent conservative, Huckabee is a social conservative I know I can count on.
Mike Huckabee also wrote a letter to the editor responding to Fund's column.
It’s important to note that every living Republican in Arkansas who has been elected to either a statewide or a federal office has endorsed my candidacy. I’m grateful for their support and proud that in 1998, I received the largest percentage of votes ever received by a Republican gubernatorial nominee in Arkansas, and that Arkansans re-elected me to another four-year term in November 2002.

As governor, I pushed through the Arkansas Legislature the first major, broad-based tax cuts in state history — a $90 million tax relief package for Arkansas families; led efforts to establish a Property Taxpayers' Bill of Rights; and created a welfare reform program that reduced the welfare rolls in the state by almost 50 percent. We also doubled the standard deduction to $2,000 for single taxpayers and $4,000 for those who are married. In total, I led the fight to cut taxes and fees over 90 times during my ten-and-a-half years as governor, saving the people of Arkansas almost $380 million. When I left office, Arkansas had over $800 million in state surplus.

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