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Huckabee 2016: Why?

Another Huckabee campaign doesn't make much sense at this point.

There are some signs that Mike Huckabee wants to be part of the 2016 Republican field:

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, who turned his stunning victory in the 2008 Iowa caucuses into a thriving talk show career, is reconnecting with activists and enlisting staff to position himself in a growing field of potential Republican presidential candidates.

Another Huckabee campaign doesn’t make much sense at this point. Back in 2011, a second Huckabee bid would have been more understandable. He had won several elections in the 2008 primaries, and won a decent number of delegates to finish second in the overall delegate count, and there was obviously a strong desire among many conservatives in the 2012 cycle to thwart Romney. That was the best chance that Huckabee had to run a genuinely competitive race, and then he could have at least claimed to be the runner-up from the last contest, but he didn’t take it. He also has the liability of being something of a Bush-era throwback in a few respects. More than any other Republican candidate in 2008, he positioned himself as a “compassionate” conservative with the poor fiscal record to prove it. Because of his emphasis on social issues throughout his campaign, he had a very loyal base of support among evangelicals, but he could never reach anyone beyond that base. Huckabee was the perfect example of a factional candidate, and that is what he would be next time.

On foreign policy, Huckabee has always been a hawk, but he went from occasionally saying somewhat sensible things during the 2008 campaign to being a predictable, awful hard-liner since then. In fact, he always was a hard-liner on some issues. His views on Israel and Palestine are so unreasonable that his presence in the 2016 field could only make the Republican debate on foreign policy much worse than it already will be. Especially if Santorum also chooses to run again, a Huckabee campaign would appear to add nothing to the debate that won’t already be there. Huckabee would likely not have much financial support for a campaign, since Republican donors are always allergic to anyone for whom social issues are the priority. He would once again have to run a campaign on a shoestring as a retread candidate, but he would be running against many more better-organized competitors than he faced last time.



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