Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Huckabee Campaign Post-Mortem

Last night, Mike Huckabee lost the Texas and Ohio primaries, McCain picked up the number of delegates he needed to secure the nomination, so Huckabee graciously conceded and promised to support McCain in the continuing race for the White House. It was an exciting race for several months, but now it is over.

Having spent several months on the inside of the grassroots effort for Huckabee, here is my post-mortem analysis:

It is remarkable that Huckabee got as far as he did. He had no backing from the GOP political establishment, and thus very little money, and a lot of snarky sentiment and hyperbolic criticism directed at him from the opinion leaders and political kingmakers who thought he had no right to be where he was without their anointing. Despite being first ignored and later attacked by the GOP establishment, and despite having negligible resources to get his message out, Huckabee consistently won over roughly 1/3 of GOP voters in the primaries. His ability to win hearts and minds with nothing more than good stump speeches and earned media is truly remarkable.

The downfall of the campaign was failing to reach non-Evangelical voters. As I've said many times on this blog, Huckabee's positions on domestic issues such as economics, conservation, and education are very attractive to Catholics and people of any religious stripe who believe in striving for good, balanced government (as opposed to believing government should do everything for us or government is always bad). This ought to have made Huckabee competitive with the same moderate/swing voters that McCain is hoping to win over. But most of these people never really learned about Huckabee's positions on these issues, because he was stuck in the Evangelical box. In fact, polls suggest he bombed badly with Catholics, who saw him as an Evangelical firebrand instead of a politician fighting for their values.

At least part of the reason this happened, and I hope the main reason, is that Huckabee had to rely on the Evangelical grassroots network to do so much for his campaign because he couldn't afford to have a real campaign organization. Inevitably, the foot soldiers in Huck's Army included enough religious partisans who made comments that were hostile or bizarre to non-Evangelicals to scare many others away. There were a lot of activist Huckabee supporters out there talking about Mike Huckabee as if he were anointed by God to be our political leader, and some of them going so far as talking in prophetic or apocalyptic terms. News flash, folks: we don't live in Ancient Israel. Our political leaders are elected by the free will of the people, so talk about God choosing a political leaders only brings those politicians down.

Now every candidate has some embarrassing supporters. But to be successful in the general population, they have to gently but effectively distance themselves from these people (like McCain distancing himself from Bill Cunningham's below-the-belt attacks on Obama recently, which was not a "slap at conservatives" as Cunningham complained, but smart politics). Unfortunately, Huckabee was not effective at distancing himself from those Evangelical supporters who were an embarrassment because he was too dependent on their free labor and/or had no organization to supplant them. To do better next time, he needs a stronger organization of his own so he can marginalize wacky supporters.

Huckabee also failed to focus his outreach on non-Evangelical groups. It was evident by January or maybe even December that he had the Evangelicals firmly in his camp, so he should have refocused his message on other groups at that point. Unfortunately, he made no concerted effort to reach out to Catholics or moderates. Again, I think a lot of this was driven by desperation for money and volunteers, and Evangelical audiences were low-hanging fruit for these purposes. I hope that it wasn't a lack of interest in reaching out to non-Evangelicals. If Huckabee is to have any shot at the Presidency in the future, he needs to tap the Evangelicals for funds quickly and then, knowing he has already won them over, use those funds to get his message to everyone else. Fewer Sundays before key primaries preaching to Evangelical congregations; more Mondays talking to think tanks, Fridays playing venues with Capitol Offense, and Saturdays appearing at Catholic pro-life and charitable organizations.

To have a shot at going all the way, you need a real organization. When I first got involved with the Huckabee campaign, Washington insiders told me he had no shot because he had no organization and money. I hoped he would be able to acquire those things as his popularity grew, and the same Washington insiders were truly shocked and admired how far Huckabee got without them. But when the local primaries rolled around, I realized how impossible the task was without a traditional political organization. My representative to the Virginia legislature had far more resources to run her campaign for a district of at most 100 square miles than Huckabee had to run a statewide campaign. It was complete chaos in the week before the primary as hundreds of willing volunteers with NO direction or assistance from the official campaign tried to figure out how to get yard signs, what kind of literature to hand out, where to focus their efforts, etc. Their efforts were sacrificial and valiant, and Huckabee did manage to come within single digits of McCain in Virginia. But there was a lot of frustration among the volunteers because no one knew who was in charge. And these volunteers could have done so much more if there was a real organization in place that could have planned ahead and assigned resources where they would be most effective.

Again, for Huckabee to have a real chance at winning the Presidency in a future election, he needs to gather up more resources at the start and then set up a more conventional political organization in key states. We volunteers like Mike, but having realized that an unorganized campaign is a Sisyphean effort, we're not willing to climb that mountain again without the proper gear next time.

Well, that's all folks! Here's hoping for the VP nod and 2012!

Signing off until then,
The K Street Mole for Huckabee

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Potomac Primary Today!

I finally got my opportunity to cast my vote for Mike Huckabee this morning. All DC, Maryland and Virginia voters, remember to vote today!

My baby is "leaping in the womb" a lot this morning. I guess she's cheering on Mike Huckabee! Thanking him for staying in the race on behalf of unborn babies and voters who are concerned about having honorable, family-oriented leadership in this nation.

From the two of us: GO MIKE!!

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Nothing's the Matter with Kansas

In the first caucus since Romney's departure left the GOP nomination a two-man race, Huckabee beats McCain by a whopping 61 to 22%! (With 3/4 of precincts reporting - exact final tally may change.)

One of the central claims of the book "What's the Matter with Kansas" is that economic conservatives have taken advantage of social conservatives, taking their votes and activism for granted while not actually delivering on the social issues and promoting economic policies that undermine the very family values the social conservatives care about.

Whatever else you might think of this book, today's Kansas caucus proves that social conservatives are not dupes, and they are working hard to wrest control of the GOP away from the country club Republicans who think they can just use and abuse the real foot soldiers of the party.

Mike Huckabee is a great Presidential candidate to represent American families because, unlike John McCain, he combines:

  • Rock solid commitment to defending the sanctity of life and marriage;
  • Understanding that both tax cuts and infrastructure investments stimulate the economy and the well-being of all Americans -- wise governance is balancing the two;
  • Conviction that free markets are generally good, but don't come before families; and
  • Commitment to do everything possible to stop the loss of American jobs and national security to illegal immigrants and foreign nations.

McCain has many heterodoxies from the economic conservatives too, but ultimately he is still a country club Republican:

  • Supports giving amnesty to illegals, so the rich can continue to support their lavish lifestyles with very cheap labor;
  • Has no commitment to supporting pro-life or pro-marriage issues;
  • Dumped his first wife after an accident left her less attractive, to marry into wealth;
  • Shut down many sources of funding for political activity, making grassroots challenges to the Washington status quo more difficult, and ceding more power to the wealthy lobbyists who expect to buy "access" with $2,300 checks.

Let the country club pundits convince us the race is over? No way! Kansas has spoken, and the heartland Republicans have declared loud and clear: WE are the GOP.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Romney Drops Out - Huckabee Last Rival to McCain Standing

Well folks, just when you thought all the crazy twists and turns of the 2008 GOP primary season were coming to an end, the fat lady singing has again grabbed one candidate but promptly disappeared over the horizon. Her victim today: Mitt Romney, who bowed out with a speech at the Conservative Political Action Committee annual meeting.

It ain't over for Mike Huckabee, no matter how much the Wall Street - Beltway axis of "expert" pundits wish to ignore him. In fact, he is the last conservative left standing.

John McCain, my friends, is not a conservative. He has only been winning at best 30-some percent of the vote in the states that he has won. Two-thirds of Republican voters want someone more conservative than McCain. They only have one choice left. And despite all the exaggerations and hysterics of the NRO-talk radio crowd, Huckabee is a conservative, and certainly there is no serious argument that he isn't more conservative than McCain.


  • Embryonic stem cell research: McCain supports; Huckabee opposes.
  • Gang of 14: McCain's glory in the liberal press supersedes the need to ensure that all judicial nominees get an up-or-down vote in the Senate.
  • Supply side tax cuts: McCain doesn't believe that lowering taxes helps the economy and ultimately boosts government revenue (opposed the Bush tax cuts); Huckabee supports pro-growth tax-cutting policies, recognizing they make the U.S. economy more competitive internationally and help create jobs.
  • Immigration: McCain wanted to grant amnesty to 10 million+ illegals; Huckabee wanted to make the best of a bad situation he couldn't control as governor, but wants the Federal government to stand up strong to its obligation to stop the flow of illegals into our states.
  • Campaign finance regulation: McCain believes that the free speech of concerned citizens should be regulated and oppressed so that the mainstream media has a monopoly on shaping political debates and lobbyist-funded incumbents can't be effectively challenged. He even got away with it, with the acquiescence of Justice Sandra Day O'Connor.
  • By the way, count on McCain appointing another weathervane Supreme Court Justice like Sandra Day O'Connor (and like himself).
Yes, McCain is good on national defense issues, but Huckabee doesn't disagree with him on those issues. Let's talk about Huckabee making McCain VP to shore up his foreign affairs flank, not the other way around.

It's time for conservatives to flock to the polls and show this is still a real race, and they're voting for the more conservative candidate -- Mike Huckabee!

The Potomac Primary is next Tuesday: Virginia, Maryland and DC all go to the polls February 12. I especially hope that Virginia tops off Huckabee's sweep of the South (minus the Thompson spoiler). Even better, if Maryland were to go for Huckabee, it would prove that he can win outside the South in a 2-man race.

Everyone get out there on the field and win this one for Huckabee! And to the man who has planted his foot in the neck of the 1st Amendment, don't forget the Virginia motto: "Sic Semper Tyrannis" (translation: an Amazon woman stands astride a fallen king, declaring "always thus to tyrants").

Friday, February 1, 2008

Some Political Levity for Super Bowl Sunday

Politics is often played like a sport, with die-hard rivalries and a winner-take-all attitude that sees no place for compromise. Many inside the Beltway forget that, unlike sports games, political actions have serious consequences for the everyday lives of people. Some even say Washington DC doesn't have any decent sports teams because politics is such a big sport here that it overwhelms the rest.

Well, the biggest sports event of the year is coming up on Sunday--not next Tuesday. Check out this great ad that is expected to be aired during the Super Bowl, reminding us all of the benefit of stepping back from the rivalries and treating each other as human beings.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Breaking News: Thompson Quits Race

No one is surprised, I think, but Fred Thompson just officially announced his withdrawal from the race for the Republican nomination.

I believe this will help boost Huckabee's campaign. If it weren't for Thompson, Huckabee probably would have won South Carolina. They were competing for the same conservative voters and people who saw a need for a down-to-earth Southerner as the GOP nominee.

I do not feel compelled to say anything positive about Thompson, particularly after his bitter and libelous attacks on Huckabee in the past several weeks. Good bye and good riddance!

Monday, January 21, 2008

I Have a Dream

If you've been reading my blog, you know that I support Mike Huckabee for President because he combines whole-pro-life convictions with an economic policy perspective that understands the power of free markets but subordinates them to the good of families, particularly those who are middle class or poor.

You may wonder why I care, particularly about the economic policy. After all, the present system treats me well. As a lawyer, I can easily afford a nice home and all the trappings of upper-middle class American life (even if I try to avoid living like it). I can also easily afford to save money and invest it. I make my money off of the status quo in Washington--interpreting inscrutably complex regulations and lobbying for incremental changes (or no changes) to law and regulations on behalf of big businesses. By demographic profile, I ought to be a Romney supporter. Why do I want to change a system that treats me so well?

Two reasons: First, my moral values command me to work to make sure that all human beings have the opportunity to live in dignity, including in an economic sense. When I was a child, my father did most of his work for Christian relief and mission organizations, so I learned from an early age about the economic deprivations that many others face, both in the third world and in certain places in America too. I learned that from those to whom much has been given, much will be expected. And as I've grown older I have had those values reinforced by reading the beautiful encyclicals of the Catholic Church about our obligations as individuals -- and through the power of the State -- to ensure material dignity for all persons.

Here is the second reason: Yep, that's a picture of the K Street Mole's daughter, taken just today. And in the spirit of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, and the annual March for Life tomorrow...

I have a dream that my daughter will grow up or at least come of age in a society where every child is seen as the miraculous fruit of his or her parents' love (including the love of parents who sacrificially give their children life by choosing adoption), not an inconvenience to be eliminated for the poor or a luxury good to be produced in a test tube at a convenient time for the rich.

I have a dream that my daughter will not grow up in fear of a cataclysmic terrorist attack on our metropolitan area, the capital of our nation. (Not that any of the Republican candidates would not be strong on this point, but if the nominee is not a strong opponent against the Democratic nominee, the security of our city is a big concern.)

I have a dream that if my daughter wants to be a teacher like her daddy that she can pursue that dream and still be able to own a modest home and achieve economic self-sufficiency.

I have a dream that if my daughter marries, that she will have the option to stay home with her own children, even if her husband isn't a lawyer.

I have a dream that economic concerns will not consume my daughter and her peers as they enter adulthood; that they will feel free to pursue careers based on their talents and interests, not feeling compelled to strive for a mere handful of careers that are the only ones that will provide economic security.

I have a dream that society will not preach consumerism to my daughter; that her everyday influences inside and outside our home will show her that love of family and friends and God is far more valuable than accumulating treasures of earth that will rust and rot.

I have a dream that my daughter will have a better life than mine, not in terms of material goods, but a life rich with love, laughter, learning, and true meaning.