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Huckabee Steering Clear of 'Weeds' in Policy Proposals

Former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee enjoys a pre-caucus run in a Des Moines park.

By Perry Bacon Jr.
If former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee wins the Iowa caucus, he wouldn't just upend the tradition that Iowa is won by campaigns with dozens of paid operatives organizing voters. While he has a paid staff of fewer than 20 organizers here, in contrast to the larger staffs of his rivals, Huckabee has also done even more with less on policy issues.

Mitt Romney, John McCain and all the leading Democrats have long list of advisers on economic and foreign policy who have crafted detailed plans on a number of issues, Huckabee doesn't have a list of foreign policy big-wigs backing him and has only a handful of domestic policy advisers. He's offered a detailed plan on immigration and a controversial proposal for a consumption tax rather than a traditional income tax, but said little about how he would seek to reduce the deficit, expand health care to more Americans or ensure schools teach more art and music, one of his favorite causes on the campaign trail.

And in an interview with reporters on his campaign bus over the weekend, he signaled he had little desire to change that unless he won the GOP nomination, saying "it's a bit premature to be getting into the weeds."

"Let's face it from January of this year up until now, the biggest challenge I had was not do I have a 300-page Social Security reform program," he said. "If I had, would you have cared? Would you have written about it? No. Fred Thompson has got one. How many people know what it says? He spent a lot of time and money developing it."

By Washington Post editors  |  December 31, 2007; 10:21 AM ET
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OK Romney, time to put up or shut up! Mike Huckabee has asked you for a last one on one discussion before the Iowa caucus. Just you and him.... Are you ready to defend your allegations against Huckabee or hind under your desk?

Posted by: d_shoup | December 31, 2007 7:07 PM | Report abuse

JakeD: when Tanc says something on this issue the interpretation is straightforward. However, given Huck's record, no such straightforward interpration of his remarks is wise. See the link I provided above.

What reporters should do is nail him down on when those IllegalAliens who left within the 120 days can come back and how many. Whether Huck wants to talk about that is immaterial.

Posted by: LonewackoDotCom | December 31, 2007 7:01 PM | Report abuse

Dr Ron Paul is tied with or has surpassed Rudolph, Fred, and Juan McCain in Iowa and New Hampshire. He has raised more money than any candidate this quarter - $20 million. Talk about nutty as a fruitcake - that's the supporters of the other candidates who don't even know their rights under the US Constitution have been taken away from them.

Posted by: washpost3 | December 31, 2007 6:57 PM | Report abuse


What part of Huckabee having "little desire to change that unless he won the GOP nomination" are you not understanding?

Posted by: JakeD | December 31, 2007 5:46 PM | Report abuse

If a voter is an issue person, he/she would care if Huckabee has a plan or not. Personality voting is a start to getting acquainted with a candidate, but at some point he/she needs to have some depth. I won't vote for someone that stays on the surface of every issue talked about. We need someone who can meet and defend the American cause against terror, national debt, social security, immigration, education, life, health insurance. A candidate had better be thinking about these issues in depth. They are going to be the leader of the United States of America

Posted by: manwaringjd | December 31, 2007 5:42 PM | Report abuse

He's also got a good point re: a 300-page Social Security reform program -- if had one, would any reporter have cared? Would they have written about it? No. Fred Thompson has got one. How many people know what it says? He wasted a lot of time and money developing it.

I think being out-spent 20-to-1 forces a candidate like Huckabee to prioritize, just as I would hope the next President does by drastically cutting federal spending (that's the only plank I actually agree with Ron Paul on -- on every other issue, Paul is a kook).

Posted by: JakeD | December 31, 2007 3:37 PM | Report abuse


As I pointed out to Lonewacko, above, you are going to have to be a little more specific exactly what more than, as just one example, "sealing the borders" and "doing away with sanctuary cities" YOU want to know about said policies.

Posted by: JakeD | December 31, 2007 3:33 PM | Report abuse


Just when, exactly, is Huckabee supposed to reveal his policies? After we vote?

I'm sorry Mr. Huckabee, you're not running for senior class president. I intend to vote based on policies, not soundbites and bass guitar solos.

"I ran a crappy campaign because I can't organize or manage money" has got to be the worst campaign slogan I've ever heard.

Will he run the country any different than he runs his campaign? Will he be different as president than he was as Governor?

Huckabee's surge is over for a good and simple reason: He's too simple to be good.

Posted by: willargyle | December 31, 2007 3:25 PM | Report abuse

Iowa voters can not be purchased like a item on ebay by phony Mitt Romney.

Iowa voters have integrity and honor, they will not stoop that low to be sell their ticket to extremelly wealthy Mitt Romeny.

Iowa voters are looking for a man with integrity, honesty, humbleness and who is trustworthy. Mike Huckabee is the only candidate that is constantly getting those integrity terms applied to him in the media.

Do not under estimate a Iowa voter, they have solid steel integrity and will not be purchased by phony Mitt Romney.

Posted by: vote4mikehuckabee | December 31, 2007 12:53 PM | Report abuse

Waziristan (Pashto: وزیرستان) is a mountainous region of northwest Pakistan, bordering Afghanistan and covering some 11 585 km² (4,473 mi²). It comprises the area west and southwest of Peshawar between the Tochi River to the north and the Gomal River to the south, forming part of Pakistan's Federally Administered Tribal Areas. The North-West Frontier Province lies immediately to the east. The region was an independent tribal territory from 1893, remaining outside British-ruled empire and Afghanistan. Tribal raiding into British-ruled territory was a constant problem for the British, eliciting frequent punitive expeditions between 1860 and 1945. The region became part of Pakistan in 1947.

Now I know why I didn't know "Waziristan" as a separate country -- I wonder if you could name all of the neighborhoods making up the San Diego area -- like I said, above, the Pakistan desk over at Foggy Bottom will undoubtedly give a President Huckabee plenty of advice on those matters ; )

Posted by: JakeD | December 31, 2007 12:50 PM | Report abuse


What part of "steering clear of the weeds" are you not understanding? Huckabee has set forth his general goals which, when Tom Tancredo spouts the exact same language, you have no problem with "reporters" leaving it at that -- so, you are going to have to be a little more specific exactly what more than "sealing the borders" and "doing away with sanctuary cities" YOU want.

Posted by: JakeD | December 31, 2007 12:38 PM | Report abuse

I'm sure the reader has spotted Perry Bacon's major error above. In reference to the interview on the campaign bus, he forgot to put "reporters" in scare quotes.

If they were reporters (instead of "reporters") they would have pointed out all the huge gaps in Huck's "detailed" immigration plan:

Even an idiot like TimRussert has pointed them out (from the other side). If Bacon wants to do some real reporting, find experts on the pro-borders side who can come up with questions for Huck, and then go out and ask him those questions.

Posted by: LonewackoDotCom | December 31, 2007 12:29 PM | Report abuse

What I want to know is why Tim Russert never asked Barack HUSSEIN Obama to describe Pakistan? Does Obama know that Pakistan is "Primarily Shiite or Sunni"?

Posted by: JakeD | December 31, 2007 12:09 PM | Report abuse

I don't even know where "Waziristan" is -- I trust that SOMEONE over at the State Department can advise Mike on that if need be -- did you find any specific fault with Huckabee's performance on "Meet the Press"? I thought it was brilliant. Russert even tried to trip him up on Pakistan, and that didn't work:

Posted by: JakeD | December 31, 2007 11:56 AM | Report abuse

Mike Huchabee
the real "liberal" in the classical sense
of the word,
he's "pro-immigration" and
"anti-bunker mentality".

It's fascinating to watch Mike.
I like Mike.
he doesn't even know were Waziristan is,
(that's a problem) considering it's the most dangerous place on Earth. Exporting more violence then any other part of the world.

I like Mike,
but render to Ceaser what is Ceaser's
and render to Christ what is Christ's.

Does he understand Wall St.?
It doesn't look like he even has a clue
how the markets work, domestically or internationally.
gosh fellas...
that does not sound so reassuring
considering the slide of dollar
over the last seven years.

But why do i like Mike?
because he comes across as a genuine human being,
unlike Mitt who comes across as pandering to an audience.

If i was competing against Mike?
I would have gone negative months ago.
because everybody knows
negative ads work.

You have to be able to "wack" people as a President.
Protecting this Nation is job one.
I don't know if Mike has the knowledge of how to do that
without causing
even more problems in this sad world of ours.

I think Mitt may take Iowa in the end
it'll be a real squeeker,
if it happens,
we shall see...

Posted by: steve_real | December 31, 2007 11:48 AM | Report abuse

"Who cares about Iowa"?! I'd say at least three Democratic candidates "care".

Posted by: JakeD | December 31, 2007 11:35 AM | Report abuse

Agree on the advisers too premature.
But I don't agree on your observation that "If former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee wins the Iowa caucus, he wouldn't just upend the tradition that Iowa is won by campaigns with dozens of paid operatives organizing voters," the Christian Right acts as one for him and the office space is the church. Paid or not that's the "Viral effect".

But the bottom line is who cares about Iowa.

Do you believe the winner of the Iowa Caucus will be our next President?


Posted by: PollM | December 31, 2007 11:26 AM | Report abuse

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