Mike Huckabee announced his bid for the White House on Tuesday and harkened back to his humble roots. Huckabee made his appeal to blue-collar workers reminding them that though his wallet has changed, he himself has not.
This will be the former Arkansas Governor’s second attempt to become President, he ran for the office back in 2008, but lost to John McCain who received the Republican nomination for president. Huckabee has kept his name in the spotlight, working for Fox News as a host of his own weekly show and a daily syndicated radio program, The Mike Huckabee Show. He has also written several books including the New York Times best seller Do The Right Thing: Inside the Movement That’s Bringing Common Sense Back to America (2008) and God, Guns, Grits, and Gravy (2015).
Huckabee’s unsuccessful run in 2008 has made him more prepared this time around. He has calmed down a bit since his last run, learned to pace himself, to not be so anxious over polls, and he realizes that he needs to take advantage of social media and use it to fight back against attacks.
In his speech in his childhood hometown of Hope, Arkansas on Tuesday Huckabee made an appeal to blue-collar workers, discussing his childhood, and sharing how his father a fireman and mechanic worked two jobs just get to by. He told the audience that his mother was an office worker and that he understands the struggles that many Americans face today. That even though they work hard it has become difficult to get ahead. He went on to say that though he has risen above his modest beginnings he has never forgotten where he came from.
A staunch social conservative who does not shy away from his positions on marriage equality, and abortion, he is promising not to desert those Republican who feel the same just to appease a society that “has lost its way morally”. He may have more competition for the evangelical vote then in his previous run. Huckabee who is an ordained Southern Baptist minister may have to fight for the evangelical vote against two sons of pastors, Senator Ted Cruz of Texas and Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker. Other possible candidates have also made their faith a major part of their platform as they consider running for president. Rick Perry former Texas Governor, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal and Ohio Governor John Kasich, all have the potential to snag some conservative Christian voters away from Huckabee. Evangelical Christians help propel former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum to the lead in the 2012 Iowa caucus.
The road ahead for Huckabee will be a hard one, and he is looking to everyday people to support him financial, setting himself apart from other GOP and Democratic presidential hopefuls, emphasizing that he is not a friend of Wall Street. He does not support “trickle down economics”. He has raised taxes as governor making him a foe of conservative groups like Club for Growth, and he speaks out about the influence corporatist have over the GOP. He believes Washington has forgotten the middle class and that the GOP needs to show that their platform is not just for CEO’s and the wealthy but that it can also work for blue-collar workers.
Huckabee will face a lot of criticism, there are hours of him talking on Fox News and the radio that can provide fodder for his opponents, his use of private jets, an infomercial for a dubious diabetes treatment, and his position on taxes when governor are sure to come under fire.
Huckabee who struggled in his last run to raise the money needed to maintain such a long and hard campaign, may need to count on those same blue-collar workers he is trying to appeal to. He will need a large grassroots effort to get him through the campaign. There are a few perspective large donors but as Huckabee himself said, he does not have a global foundation or a tax payer funded job to live of off.
By Jessica Hamel
Photo by Gage Skidmore-Creativecommons Flickr License