Mike Says "Me Too"
You may have seen this recent item about former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee’s evident displeasure with the evolving 2012 Republican presidential primary narrative. Even though Huckabee is typically located at or near the top of most of the early 2012 horse race polls, his comments suggest that he feels slighted at frequently being left out of the relevant conversation among political observers and the media.
This is not the first time that Huckabee has acted like he is not getting the respect he’s due as reigning champion of the Iowa Caucus. I noted in a post almost 18 months ago that Huckabee seems to have a real sore spot on this score. At the time, I was reacting to his oddly passive-aggressive behavior toward former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin’s newfound political celebrity, and her obvious encroachment on his turf as a leader of social and religious conservatives within the Republican Party.
Huckabee may have a legitimate gripe here, but the bigger electoral problem he faces is twofold. First, I don’t sense that he is being taken very seriously as a potential nominee by institutional elites in the Republican Party, who typically view him as a bit of a slick showman in the tradition of an old Southern religious revival. Second, to the extent that the tea party movement intersects with social and religious conservatives, those folks are now looking to Palin for leadership, not Huckabee.
To make matters worse for Huckabee, independent groups backing the tea party movement on fiscal issues (like the Club for Growth) have hammered him mercilessly in the past as a tax and spender. This makes it much less likely that his candidacy could ever be a rallying point for tea party activism. So, Huckabee increasingly seems caught between the two power nodes of the Republican Party – institutional elites and the tea party movement. He no doubt senses this and is concerned that he could quickly become irrelevant, if he doesn’t aggressively reinsert himself into the political conversation.
Note: Back posting on Friday. -Dean

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