As a former supporter of Governor Huckabee, I can tell you that it was never pleasant to hear the attacks made by Pat Toomey and the Club for Growth during the ’08 Presidential Primary. A little background first, I started supporting Mike Huckabee when he was in the single digits at the very beginning of the debates and had the honor of driving the Governor around on appointments he had in Dallas. You cannot do that without getting to know him and developing a strong amount of respect, especially when you see how genuine he was and how well he treated his daughter Sarah. I got to know the man more than the candidate and appreciated his unwavering support for life – not just in the womb but his overall for talking about the American culture of helping out your fellow man. He was 100% pro-life and I loved his stance on the fair tax.
As he began to gain steam, largely on his debate performances, it was only natural that his record would be scrutinized if he were to be taken seriously as a candidate for President. Leading the way in attacks, seen by me and others, as vicious in nature was the aforementioned Club for Growth. Even when it was just a straw poll, CFG spent hundreds of thousands of dollars trying to sink a campaign that hadn’t even left the port. As Byron York wrote in December of 2007, “Given the relatively higher profiles of other candidates, it seemed odd that the Club would pick Huckabee right out of the box, yet that is what happened…when the Club began to publish assessments of the candidates, the first one it released was on…Mike Huckabee. At that point, Huckabee was truly nowhere in the polls, in Iowa or anywhere else.”
The Club For Growth’s leader back then was former Pennsylvania Congressman Pat Toomey who didn’t hide his disdain for Huckabee either. Writing for the National Review, Toomey opined “this flirtation [with Mike Huckabee as a potential front runner] does a great disservice to the conservative movement if it overlooks Huckabee’s stunning record of big-government liberalism…. Yes, as a presidential candidate, Huckabee has signed on as a supporter of the Fair Tax and pledged against raising taxes, but when a candidate’s long and clear record flies in the face of his election-year symbolism, you can chalk it up to politics every time.” (It's important to note this is the same criticism leveled by Huckabee at Romney and with a similar record in Massachusetts, the CFG gave Mitt a pass)
Governor Huckabee would always joke that “maybe someone didn’t get an appointment in my administration whose a cousin of a big wig at the Club for Growth,” or as he would call it, “the club for greed.” When the Americans for Tax Reform didn’t thrust the sword at Huck with the same amount of gusto that CFG did, it obviously led people to scratch their heads and give weight to the “personal” nature of the attacks as pointed out by National Review's Byron York.
Well, as we know, Governor Huckabee didn’t win the primaries even though you cannot give credit for his loss to the CFG. Fast forward to today, and things have changed dramatically. Pat Toomey is not only wanting, but virtually asking for, the endorsement of Mike Huckabee…and strangely enough, he should get it along with everyone else who backed him then and now.
For those who support Governor Huckabee and were as livid as I was to hear a total distorting of the facts by the Club for Growth and Pat Toomey (consider this, if they were so “on target” one would wonder why the Americans for Tax Reform and avid fiscal conservatives like Grover Norquist didn't come out with the same vigor against Huckbee as did the CFG must tell you something), we must also stick to our principles (especially facing the prospect of a Tom Ridge candidacy for Senate) and stand squarely into camp for Pat Toomey.
A lot of “chatter” out there says only Ridge could win such a blue state, Toomey wouldn’t have a chance. Funny, this is the same “chatter” Huckabee had to overcome himself. He routinely wondered why those who agreed with him on the issues wouldn’t outright support his candidacy -- and now he has an opportunity to stand on principle and not emotions. Pat Toomey is a solid conservative, who by the way should have been supported six years ago when many (including George W. Bush) supported the liberal Arlen Specter and where did that get us? When we start conceding our principles for a shallow victory, we give our party un-principled people like Specter who leaves us because he was never truly with us.
This is an opportunity to say principle matters, ideology matters, and stand on that alone. Otherwise, we will continue to be Democrat-lite and will not see a ruling majority for a long, long time. Toomey was asked about it on the Hugh Hewitt Show, whether or not he would get the support of Huckabee, and responded by saying “Well, I don’t know. I haven’t spoken with Governor Huckabee about this. I’d love to have his support, but you know, that’s his call.”
Governor Huckabee, and all of you like me who supported him in 2008, make the call. Unlike Tom Ridge, Pat Toomey is the right choice at the right time. Or as I should say, a true conservative is ALWAYS the right choice at the right time.