Public image of Mike Huckabee

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The public image of former Governor and Republican presidential nominee Mike Huckabee is very mixed; he has been criticized by many conservative icons such as Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter.[citation needed] He did, however, receive significant support when running for president in 2008; he received the endorsements from five Representatives of the U.S. House as well as three former governors and seven newspapers.


Mike Huckabee greeting an attendee after an address at the San Francisco Commonwealth Club, Jan. 31, 2008.

Huckabee's personality has been described in positive terms as "gentle and warm",[1] "charming",[2] "friendly, teddy-bear",[3] and "engaging, warm, relaxed, and persuasive".[4] Huckabee's personality has been described in negative terms as "petty, thin-skinned, self-righteous",[5] and "somewhat vindictive".[6] Mixed descriptions include "best of leaders and the worst of thin-skinned pols"[7] and "charming and aloof".[8]



Policy as governor[edit]

In late 1996, Huckabee campaigned for ballot Amendment 1, a plan to adjust property tax rules to make school funding more equal across the state, and Amendment 2, a constitutional amendment increasing the state sales tax 0.125 percent to improve the state's park system and natural resources.[9][10][11] Later in 2001, his refusal to raise taxes in the face of a budget shortfall sparked criticism from lawmakers and the media. In response to the criticism he created the "Tax Me More Fund", which was a voluntary fund for people who felt that the government needed to raise more taxes.[12] State Sen. Minority Leader John Brown called the "Tax Me More Fund" a campaign tactic.[12] However, the Club for Growth argues Huckabee increased state spending 65.3 percent (1996–2004) and supported five tax increases.[13] In response, Huckabee said he doubled the standard deduction and the child care tax credit, eliminated the marriage penalty and the capital gains tax on the sale of a home, and reduced the capital gains tax for both businesses and individuals.[14] Ernest Dumas of the Arkansas Times, a consistent Huckabee critic,[15] responded most of the tax cuts were small deductions and exemptions initiated by the state legislature, that the broad-based tax cut was proposed by his predecessor and Huckabee was "the biggest taxer and spender in Arkansas history."[16] Former Arkansas State Representative Randy Minton (R) has said; "[Huckabee's] support for taxes split the Republican Party, and damaged our name brand."[17] The group has pointed out that Huckabee publicly opposed the repeal of a sales tax on groceries and medicine in 2002, signed a bill raising taxes on gasoline in 1999, and signed a $5.25 bed-tax on private nursing home patients in 2001.[14][18][19] In 2005, Time magazine named him one of the five best governors in the U.S., writing "Huckabee has approached his state's troubles with energy and innovation".[20] The Club for Growth accuses Huckabee of being a liberal in disguise, saying Huckabee increased state spending 65.3 percent (1996–2004) and supported five tax increases.[13] The Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration states during Huckabee's tenure, taxes were cut ninety times for a decrease of $378 million, while taxes were raised twenty-one times for an increase of $883 million.[21] Arkansas Health Care Association President Jim Cooper stated the private nursing home tax was necessary in order to avert future huge tax increases as a result of years of mismanagement.[22]

The newspaper of Dallas Morning News endorsed Huckabee in 2008 and praised his fiscal policies as governor saying "Mr. Huckabee established a respectable record of fiscal responsibility in Arkansas. Rather than run up deficits, he backed raising taxes to pay for needed infrastructure, health care and education. That's called prudence, and it was once a Republican virtue."[23]

The libertarian think tank of the Cato Institute gave Huckabee an "F" for his spending/tax policies as governor in 2006 and a D for his career as governor.[24] The conservative non-profit group Club for Growth spent hundreds of thousands of dollars during 2008 presidential race attacking Huckabee's economic policies.


Huckabee supports the FairTax. Ann Coulter was quoted on saying "The problem with the fair tax is that it's so conservative it would never be implemented..."[25] Rudy Giuliani criticized the fair tax saying "This would not be a good time — I don't know if there would ever be a good time to do this — to advocate ending the home mortgage deduction. The home mortgage deduction is considered by many critical to the ability of people to buy a home and keep their home."[26]


The Christian Science Monitor called Huckabee a "conservative with a social gospel."[27] Bill O'Reilly's first question to Huckabee in an interview was "Is Mike Huckabee ‘Too Religious’ to be elected president?"[28]

Support from minority groups[edit]

In a debate, Huckabee earned 48 percent of the African-American vote, a feat seldom accomplished by Republican candidates since the 1930s.[citation needed] On January 21, 2008, Mike Huckabee received the endorsement of 50 African-American leaders in Atlanta, Georgia.[29] The endorsers cited Huckabee's record on life, education, minorities, the economy, the prison system, and immigration as Arkansas governor. Due to his beliefs on amnesty in conjunction to illegal immigration, Hispanics generally support him.[30]

Criticism from gay rights groups[edit]

Huckabee has expressed on numerous occasions a particularly low opinion of the LGBT community. He has compared homosexual relationships between consenting adults to illegal drug abuse,[31] criticized same-sex marriage, as well as supported laws that ban same-sex couples from adopting.[32]

Kathy Webb, a gay Arkansas state senator , has said the "former governor doesn't seem to have a lot of tolerance and goodwill toward gay people."[33]

Huckabee has also been criticized for being photographed with Brian Camenker the head of MassResistance, a social conservative activist group that has been classified as a "Hate Group" by the Southern Poverty Law Center, a legal advocacy organization known for its tolerance education programs and legal victories against white supremacists.[34] When told Brian was from MassResistance, Gov. Huckabee said, "I know. I get your emails."[35]

Andrew Sullivan is frequently critical of Huckabee, especially his comments that HIV-positive people should be isolated, calling such comments against gays with HIV "rancid homophobia".[36] The family of Ryan White, an Indiana teenager who died of AIDS, has also objected to Huckabee's comments about AIDS.[37]

Jay Barth, the co-author of a book on Arkansas politics, has been quoted as saying "In terms of public comments that are clearly derogatory toward gays and lesbians or persons with HIV/AIDS, most of those comments come early in his career," and "That is not to say he became a progressive on the issue, but he talked about them less."[37]

In July 2012, After Chick-fil-A COO Dan Cathy made several public statements supporting what he believes to be "the traditional family," saying about same-sex marriage that those who "have the audacity to define what marriage is about" were "inviting God's judgment on our nation". Several prominent politicians expressed disapproval. Boston Mayor Thomas Menino, and Chicago Alderman Proco "Joe" Moreno said they hoped to block franchise expansion into their areas. The proposed bans drew criticism from liberal pundits, legal experts, and the American Civil Liberties Union. The Jim Henson Company, which had a Pajanimals kids' meal toy licensing arrangement with Chick-fil-A, said it would cease its business relationship, and donate the payment to the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation. Chick-fil-A stopped distributing the toys, citing unrelated safety concerns that had arisen prior to the controversy. In response to criticism of the Cathy family's support for "traditional In response to criticism of the Cathy family's support for "traditional marriage,". Politician Mike Huckabee created the counter-protest for August 1 called "Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day."

American Muslims[edit]

Huckabee is often, at times, an outspoken critic of Islam. In February 2011, Huckabee excoriated a small number of Protestant churches for allowing Muslims to pray in them [2], remarking that Islam "is the antithesis of the Gospel of Jesus Christ". Also in August 2013, Huckabee, on his radio talk show, criticized the decision of the United States government to close down its embassies [3][permanent dead link] in predominantly Muslim countries in celebration of Eid al Fitr, the holiday marking the end of Ramadan; stating that Muslims are likely to commit violent acts in their countries during holidays. Huckabee then went on to compare Muslims to "uncorked animals" because Islam "promotes the most murderous mayhem".

Recently, however, Huckabee's attitude towards the American Muslim community has somewhat softened. In May 2014, Huckabee invited on his Fox News program Islamic feminists Raquel Saraswati and Raheel Raza to discuss the kidnapping of Nigerian schoolgirls by Nigerian Islamist group Boko Haram. During the show Huckabee acknowledged that "not all Muslims want to kill anyone who is not a Muslim", and that knowing so was "refreshing"[4].

Controversial statements[edit]

Over the years, Huckabee has made a number of public statements that have drawn criticism,[38][39][40][41][42][43] including comparing his weight loss to the experience of a concentration camp, for which the National Jewish Democratic Council chastised Huckabee;[44] his joking about suicide while speaking of fundraising efforts by himself and his opponents in the Republican primaries, for which he was criticized by various suicide awareness groups;[45] and his asking "Don't Mormons believe that Jesus and the devil are brothers?" when discussing Mitt Romney's religion.[46][47]

In all three cases, Huckabee and his campaign publicly apologized. Commenting on another incident comparing Arkansas journalists critical of his policies with disgraced reporters Jayson Blair and Janet Cooke, Huckabee said "You'll see it – one of the things that gets me in trouble is my love of metaphors. I use hyperbole in the course of trying to paint a word picture. I pay a dear price for it."[48] Huckabee stirred controversy again in October 2007, likening abortion to a "holocaust".[49] The non-partisan Anti-Defamation League called on Huckabee and all candidates to resist using such "disturbing and offensive language."[50]

While governor of Arkansas he was asked by host Rick Mercer of the Canadian satiric comedy news show This Hour Has 22 Minutes about Canada's decision to preserve its national igloo. Unaware to the fact that Canada has no national igloo, Mike Huckabee congratulated Canada for preserving it. In subsequent interview Rick Mercer explained that Huckabee had asked if it was a controversial igloo but that he wasn't aware that it was a fake news story.[51]

In December 2007, Huckabee was criticized for his comments subsequent to the assassination of former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto. He said that Pakistan has more illegal immigrants to the United States than any country but Mexico. However, INS data indicates that Pakistan is nowhere near the top of the list. Moreover, some questioned why he made a connection between Bhutto's death and immigration.[52] In January 2008, in an interview with the website Beliefnet, Huckabee said "I think the radical view is to say that we're going to change the definition of marriage so that it can mean two men, two women, a man and three women, a man and a child, a man and animal."[53] Huckabee was then criticized by Talking Points Memo, which interpreted his comment as equating homosexuality with paedophilia and bestiality.[54]

At a Michigan primary campaign appearance on January 14, 2008, Huckabee said "I have opponents in this race who do not want to change the Constitution. But I believe it's a lot easier to change the Constitution than it would be to change the word of the living God. And that's what we need to do – to amend the Constitution so it's in God's standards rather than try to change God's standards so it lines up with some contemporary view."[55] Huckabee's comment was generally poorly received; television pundit Joe Scarborough commented that while he believes "evangelicals should be able to talk politics ... some might find that statement very troubling, that we're going to change the Constitution to be in line with the Bible. And that's all I'm going to say."[56]

In 2009, Huckabee criticized American policy toward Israel in front of an Israeli audience. These comments drew accusations that Huckabee was "bashing America", which he denied. Huckabee instead claimed that President Obama's policies were "anti-Israel and promise breaking".[57]

In 2012, Huckabee provoked a controversy by claiming that the Newtown shooting was because "we systematically removed God from our schools." [58]

Criticism of WikiLeaks[edit]

On November 29, 2010, Huckabee strongly criticized WikiLeaks and its sources in relation to the Cablegate scandal in which approximately 251,000 US Embassy cables were attained by WikiLeaks and displayed on their website, many of which were labeled secret and confidential. Huckabee was quoted saying, "Whoever in our government leaked that information is guilty of treason," and "anything less than execution is too kind a penalty."[59]

Perception from liberals and Democrats[edit]

On December 9, 2007, self-described liberal[citation needed] columnist Frank Rich of The New York Times praised Huckabee in an op-ed saying Huckabee is the Republicans' Obama.[60]

On December 11, 2007, the conservative news website Drudge Report, stated in an 'exclusive' report that the highest levels of the Democratic Party told their officials to avoid any criticism of 2008 Republican presidential contender Mike Huckabee, until he would secure the nomination. One Democrat said "He'll easily be their McGovern, an easy kill."[61]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Mike Huckabee | Slim chance". 2007-12-14. Retrieved 2008-10-16. 
  2. ^ "Should We Fear Faith? | The Jewish Exponent". Retrieved 2008-10-16. 
  3. ^ Clarence PageTribune Media " - Serving Dixon, Sterling & Rock Falls". Retrieved 2008-10-16. 
  4. ^ "The Corner on National Review Online". Retrieved 2008-10-16. 
  5. ^ Payne, Dan (2007-12-13). "Contrary to pundits, not everybody loves Huckabee - The Boston Globe". Retrieved 2008-10-16. 
  6. ^ Leibovich, Mark (2007-12-19). "Huckabee Now a Candidate With Something to Lose". The New York Times. 
  7. ^ Arkansas Democrat-Gazette Northwest Edition (May 3, 2006). " :: Northwest Arkansas' News Source". Retrieved 2008-10-16. 
  8. ^ Adam Nossiter And David Barstow (December 22, 2007). "Charming and Aloof, Huckabee Changed State - New York Times". Retrieved 2008-10-16. 
  9. ^ Barone, Michael; Grant Ujifusa (1999). The Almanac of American Politics. Washington, DC: National Journal. p. 44. ISBN 0-8129-3194-7. 
  10. ^ Jefferson, James (1996-11-07). "Huckabee Pleased with Votes on Ark. Amendments". The Commercial Appeal. 
  11. ^ Duffy, Joan (1996-09-09). "Critical Arkansas school funds amendment goes untouted". The Commercial Appeal. 
  12. ^ a b "Arkansas Governor Creates 'Tax Me More Fund'". Retrieved 2007-10-28. 
  13. ^ a b "Mike Huckabee is a Liberal, a Continuing Series". Retrieved 2011-11-02. 
  14. ^ a b Chip Saltsman (2007-08-02). "Mike Huckabee's Campaign Manager Speaks out Against Club For Growth Ad". Mike Huckabee for President. Archived from the original on October 13, 2007. Retrieved 2007-10-28. 
  15. ^ Archive of Dumas' articles from Arkansas Times Archived 2010-01-02 on Wayback Machine. Arkansas Times
  16. ^ "Huckabee's record". Arkansas Times. August 9, 2007. Retrieved 2007-10-28. 
  17. ^ Another Man From Hope Wall Street Journal October 26, 2007. Retrieved November 26, 2007
  18. ^ Dan Gearino. "Huckabee cites differences in tax increases". Retrieved 2011-11-02. 
  19. ^ "Mike Huckabee's Record on Economic Issues". Club for Growth. January 29, 2007. Archived from the original on October 11, 2007. Retrieved 2007-10-28. 
  20. ^ "America's 5 Best Governors". Time Magazine. 2005-11-13. 
  21. ^ "Ten year record on taxes studied". Arkansas Democrat Gazette. January 13, 2003. Archived from the original on 2007-11-14. Retrieved 2007-10-28. 
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  37. ^ a b Kranish, Michael (2007-12-12). "Huckabee's views on gays under greater scrutiny". The Boston Globe. 
  38. ^ Jefferson, James (2006-07-16). "A decade after the madness, Mike Huckabee reflects". Arkansas News Bureau. 
  39. ^ Sabloff, Nick (2007-10-20). "Huckabee: Legalized Abortion Is A Holocaust - Politics on The Huffington Post". Retrieved 2008-10-16. 
  40. ^ "ADL Calls On Governor Huckabee To Refrain From Using Holocaust Imagery" (Press release). Anti-Defamation League. 2007-10-23. Archived from the original on 2009-12-06. 
  41. ^ Kleefeld, Eric (2007-10-17). "Huckabee Compares Safe-Sex Message To Drunk Driving, Domestic Violence". Talking Points Memo. 
  42. ^ Goldenberg, David (2007-01-30). "Mike Huckabee Exposed". National Jewish Democratic Council. 
  43. ^ Bergman, B.J. (September 1998). "The Greens Must Be Crazy". Sierra. 
  44. ^ "Gov. Draws Ire For Concentration Camp Joke". Associated Press. CBS News. 2006-10-21. Retrieved 2011-11-02. 
  45. ^ "Huckabee Says Joke Was Not About Suicide". Associated Press. CBS News. 2007-10-11. 
  46. ^ Pearson, Rick; Chase, John (2007-12-13). "Huckabee apologizes to Romney". Chicago Tribune. Archived from the original on 2008-01-07. Retrieved 2007-12-13. 
  47. ^ "Huckabee winning support by highlighting Romney's Mormonism". The Salt Lake Tribune. 2007-12-12. Retrieved 2008-01-07. 
  48. ^ "Project Vote Smart - Michael D. 'Mike' Huckabee - The New Republic - The Bearable Lightness of Mike Huckabee". Retrieved 2008-10-16. 
  49. ^ Crawford, Jamie (2007-10-21). "Huckabee likens abortion to holocaust". CNN. Sometimes we talk about why we're importing so many people in our workforce. It might be for the last 35 years, we have aborted more than a million people who would have been in our workforce had we not had the holocaust of liberalized abortion under a flawed Supreme Court ruling in 1973. 
  50. ^ ADL Calls On Governor Huckabee To Refrain From Using Holocaust Imagery Archived 2009-12-06 on Wayback Machine., October 23, 2007
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  52. ^ Seelye, Katherine Q.; Kirkpatrick, David D (2007-12-28). "Huckabee Sees Pakistan as Reason for Border Fence". The New York Times. When I say single them out I am making the observation that we have more Pakistani illegals coming across our border than all other nationalities except those immediately south of the border. And in light of what is happening in Pakistan it ought to give us pause as to why are so many illegals coming across these borders. 
  53. ^ "Mike Huckabee: 'The Lord Truly Gave Me Wisdom'". Beliefnet. Well, I don't think that's a radical view to say we're going to affirm marriage. I think the radical view is to say that we're going to change the definition of marriage so that it can mean two men, two women, a man and three women, a man and a child, a man and animal. Again, once we change the definition, the door is open to change it again. I think the radical position is to make a change in what's been historic. 
  54. ^ Greg Sargent (January 17, 2008). "Election Central | Talking Points Memo | Huckabee Directly Equates Homosexuality With Bestiality". Retrieved 2008-10-16. 
  55. ^ "Huck, the Constitution and 'God's standards' - First Read -". Retrieved 2008-10-16. 
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  58. ^ Lavender, Paige (2012-12-14). "Huckabee Makes Outrageous Remarks After Massacre". Huffington Post. 
  59. ^ State Column (November 30, 2010). "Mike Huckabee calls for execution of Julian Assange". The State Column. 
  60. ^ Rich, Frank (2007-12-09). "The Republicans Find Their Obama". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-05-22. 
  61. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2009-10-04. Retrieved 2009-09-13.