Opinion

Why Mike Huckabee Is For Real

Matt K. Lewis Senior Contributor

Former Gov. Mike Huckabee is expected to announce his presidential run on Tuesday in Hope, Arkansas, and a new video only serves to remind us of just how formidable a candidate he can be.

Whereas some conservatives perpetually come across as mean-spirited, Huckabee has his own way of tapping into a compassionate conservative message. “We didn’t slash, burn, hurt people, leave people impoverished. We empowered people to live a better life,” he says in the video.

And Huckabee also embodies an “aw shucks” brand of populist conservatism that a lot of Americans might find refreshing. His video cuts to a debate clip of Huckabee saying: “I’m not a Republican because I grew up rich, I’m a Republican because I didn’t want to spend the rest of my life poor, waiting for the government to rescue me.”

As I write recently in my Daily Beast column,

It’s unclear what’s in the water in Hope, Arkansas, but that Bill Clinton and Huck are both from the same hamlet is nothing short of miraculous. Put aside the snake oil salesman stuff, and the numerous ridiculous things Huckabee has said to get attention, and you’re left with a man who is essentially the love child of Clinton and Ronald Reagan. I recently argued that only the great politicians like The Gipper and Bubba can oscillate between indignation and compassion. Well, guess what: Huckabee can do both, too. This is a guy who’s so compelling he actually got Jon Stewart to question his own abortion stance.

Don’t expect Huck to win the nomination (he probably won’t have the money or the organization), but don’t discount his potential to shake up this primary race. It would be a mistake to underestimate his likability and folksy appeal — especially in a state like Iowa.

And if you doubt this, just watch the video here: