I first met Mike when I became his consultant in his race for lieutenant governor of Arkansas. He was a refreshing change from my previous Arkansas client, but you probably know that story. I was impressed when I first asked Mike about his views on parole for violent felons. I anticipated a standard right-wing response. Instead, he said, “Oh, no, the Christian concept of forgiveness requires that we allow parole. We just have to use it wisely.” I was amazed … and sold.
What, I wondered, would a right-wing Christian activist do as governor of a state? He would sign off on the death penalty, veto abortion, oppose gay rights and insist on the Pledge of Allegiance, but then what would he do for the balance of his term in office? Mike Huckabee answered the question. He set up programs to fight childhood obesity, reformed prisons to emphasize reforming inmates, put values back in education and became a highly popular governor.
Now he churns his way to the forefront of the pack in the Republican primary. He’s still broke, but still finished a strong second in the Ames, Iowa, straw poll with 18 percent of the vote.
Now in Iowa polls he has moved ahead of McCain and, in some trial heats, ahead of Romney. Rasmussen has him rising to 7 percent nationally. (Full disclosure: If he breaks 10, I win a dinner from Bill O’Reilly.) But he has the best of all possible worlds: Rivals who are falling of their own weight. So here comes Mike.