By Bryan Fischer
Follow me on Twitter: @BryanJFischer, on Facebook at “Focal Point”
Former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee declared last night that he will not run for the presidency in 2012. Prayer factored heavily in his decision, and I’m guessing a $2.8 million mortgage on a Florida beach house made it a little easier to hear from the Lord.
Here’s a quick rundown of the current field, from the standpoint of this social conservative.
Who’s out, for true-blue social conservatives:
Newt. His marital past is just too troubled. His daughter has been trying to paper over the famous hospital incident, but has not denied the story that he took a legal pad into the room as his first wife was recovering from cancer to discuss the details of the divorce. She may have difficulty denying it since his first wife was apparently the source of the story. Plus, he’s just too green. He got $300,000 to lobby for ethanol, which is not only a horribly expensive and inefficient alternative to fossil fuels, it’s pulling 40% of the corn harvest out of the food supply, driving up grocery costs for low-income Americans. He’s now trying to say that his love seat global warming spot with Nancy Pelosi was a “debate.” Groan. Gingrich is toast.
Romney. This is the man who gave America homosexual marriage by fiat in a burst of executive branch activism as governor of Massachusetts. His numerous flip-flops look like poltiical conversions of convenience rather than principle. The final nail in the coffin was his fatal choice to defend RomneyCare this past week. He is now officially the godfather of ObamaCare, with President Obama himself and Massachusetts’ Democrat governor Deval Patrick giving him shout-outs on health care. Romney is toast.
Paul. Thinks we ought to legalize drugs and de-legalize marriage. Also thinks we broke international law by gunning down Osama in his pajamas. Give him props for being consistent, and a man of principle, but unfortunately for him, his principles on social issues are not principles GOP primary voters share. Ron Paul is toast.
The Donald. By virtually every measure, he’s a clown. He has a troubled marital past of his own, has more bankruptcies than marriages in his past, made a lot of money off the immoral practice of gambling, has given more money to Democrats than to Republicans, and tried to use eminent domain to take a house from a widow to build a parking lot for limos. He says he’s pro-life, but nobody has asked him what that means in political terms. Will he defund Planned Parenthood? Appoint only pro-life judges? Who knows? Plus he wants to jack up by 25% the price of everything manufactured in China that low-income Americans buy. Have people figured that out yet? Trump is toast.
Daniels. Kept foolishly defending his call for a “truce” on social issues. But conservatives know that “truce” is just a euphemism for “surrender.” They’re looking for someone to carry the banner, not run up the white flag. He showed no eagerness to sign the Indiana ban on funding for Planned Parenthood, and showed no leadership on that issue at all. Not a good sign if you’re looking for someone who thinks pre-born babies have a right to life. Daniels ain’t gonna fight for unborn babies, and social conservatives know it. Plus he said he’d pick pro-abort Condi Rice as his VP candidate. Daniels is toast.
Cain. Herman Cain gets the biggest boost from Huckabee sitting this one out. Herman is from the South, and can just about lock up the entire region as it continues to swing from the disastrous policies of the Democratic party back to the GOP fold. Cain is a solid pro-life, pro-marriage evangelical who would like to see the ban on homosexual service in the military reinstated and who’s one of the few candidates willing to speak openly about the dangers that Islam and sharia law pose to American freedoms. Cain has the chance to vacuum up most of Huck’s oxygen south of the Mason-Dixon line, and will fly high in Iowa and middle America because he is such an unapologetic, pull-no-punches social and fiscal conservative, someone folks have been waiting for for a long time.
And the prospect of a black conservative running against a black socialist may be just too hard for voters to resist. The left is now legitimately afraid of Herman, since the South Carolina debate boosted him into the upper atmosphere, and is accusing him of being “a racist with a black face.” Good luck with that. He’d turn Obama into a pretzel in presidential debates. Believe me, Herman Cain scares the pants off Obama and the Democrats. You get them to be honest, and tell you whom they desperately hope Obama does not have to face, it will be Herman hands down, nobody else even on the screen. The only other candidate they might fear would be Bachmann. But while they despise Michelle Bachmann, they fear Herman Cain. Cain will keep them awake nights. Tells you all you need to know. He gets the nomination, they’ll be in such a panic they won’t know whether to spit or wind their watches.
Pawlenty. Pawlenty is making mea culpa after mea culpa over his past support for cap-and-trade. But he didn’t just support it, he wedded himself to it. Now that the American people have seen through the whole global warming scam, he’s trying to get as far away from it as he can. But it raises questions about his judgment, and whether we can count on him to be a statesman rather than a politician. He’s leading from behind on that one. But his social bona fides are solid, he’s a committed evangelical, and he’s been working to overcome his image as competent but bland by appearing at more Tea Party events and putting more energy into his delivery. Will it be enough? Probably not.
Bachmann. She apparently will declare next week, about the same time Cain does. She’s immensely likable, and very popular with the Tea Party crowd. She has shown an independent streak in D.C., which ruling class Republicans hate but the American people love. Voters are up to here with ruling class Republicans. They’re the whole reason we even have a Tea Party in the first place. Voters, however, are going to want someone with more gravitas, to use an overworked term, someone who has more of a presidential look and feel and demeanor. Bachmann may too chipper and sunny to be a presidential candidate. She’s the Katie Couric of the Republican field. She’d be a dynamite V.P. candidate, however, providing regional balance to someone like Cain, and would be a tremendously effective campaigner for a socially conservative nominee. Conservatives love her.
Santorum. Has Pawlenty’s blandness problem and low name identification, and it’s hard to see a way from him to break out of the pack. His social bona fides, however, are likewise impeccable, and he has been one of the few Republicans willing to speak honestly about the dangers of the homosexual movement. He endorsed Specter over Toomey in 2004, but can plausibly argue that the trade-off was that he got Roberts and Alito on the Supreme Court, and he’s probably right about that. He’d be a great cabinet member, and would be a great choice to replace the pro-abortion, pro-big government Kathleen Sebelius at HHS.
Palin. Tough to run a national campaign from Alaska. She’s the one the left has feared the most in the past, as they have tried to kneecap her at every turn. And they have done so effectively. The wingers in the leftist media have so demonized this decent woman that her negatives are probably too high to overcome. But she would be dynamite on the campaign trail for any socially conservative nominee. She can still light up a room in a way that nobody other than Herman Cain can. She ought to be the head cheerleader for the presidential campaign. She can bring the fans to their feet.
Bottom line: there are no big losers from Huckabee’s announcement. But his support has to go somewhere, and I’m guessing the majority of it will wind up going to Herman Cain. That makes him last night’s big winner.
(Unless otherwise noted, the opinions expressed are the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the views of the American Family Association or American Family Radio.)