Presidential candidate Mike Huckabee is facing vast skepticism from some of the people who know him best: his former colleagues in the conservative media.
Huckabee hosted a weekly Fox News program for over six years before leaving to explore a presidential run. Huckabee credited his Fox News platform for helping him gain access to “people's homes every week.”
That advantage with Republican primary voters hasn't necessarily translated to many of his former colleagues. Conservative media figures have called Huckabee's positions “appalling,” and said he represents “big government, big taxes, and pro-amnesty.” They've also questioned whether he's serious about running, or is just being a “spoiler” on behalf of the Republican establishment.
Conservatives have used Huckabee's time as a media commentator as evidence that he's doomed to fail. Fox News correspondent Jesse Watters said that Huckabee's “been on Fox for how many years? He's got the radio show. He's probably given the enemy so much material to work with there.”
Media Matters documented how Huckabee's years in the media were filled with numerous lowlights, including staunch anti-LGBT rhetoric, claiming President Obama grew up “in Kenya,” linking the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting to the lack of God in schools, and renting out his email list to shady companies.
Glenn Beck: Huckabee Is “Being Put In As A Spoiler” By The Establishment. Beck claimed that the Republican establishment is putting Huckabee in the race in order to take away votes from conservatives like Ted Cruz and Rand Paul. His website reported:
Glenn laid out his theory on what's going on in the smoke-filled rooms of the establishment GOP.
“I think he's being put in as a spoiler. I think that's the only thing. I really do. I think he's there because he'll pull religious votes away from Ted Cruz. And that's the one that big government progressives are afraid of. The establishment is afraid of Ted Cruz and Rand Paul. They're going to do everything they can to make sure those two are nowhere to be seen when it comes to Election Day. And so if you want to take care of Ted Cruz, you go after the religious base. And you split the religious base. And that's what Mike Huckabee is doing,” Glenn said. [GlennBeck.com, 5/5/15]
George Will: “There Is One Word For Huckabee's Stances: Appalling.” Will, a Washington Post columnist and Fox News contributor, harshly criticized Huckabee in his May 8 column, citing his “appalling” stances and rhetoric, especially on legal matters. [Washington Post, 5/8/15]
Sean Hannity: “I'm Just Not So Sure He's Serious About It Except -- You Know, Why Do I Get The Impression That He's Out There For Name Recognition Stuff?” Huckabee has not appeared on Hannity's Fox News program in recent years despite working for Fox. He is the only declared presidential candidate who has not been interviewed by Hannity on Fox in recent years. [Premiere Radio Networks, The Sean Hannity Show, 5/5/15, via Media Matters; Media Matters, 4/9/15]
Jesse Watters On Huckabee's Media Career: “He's Probably Given The Enemy So Much Material To Work With There ... His Time Has Passed.” Watters said of Huckabee while co-hosting The Five:
WATTERS: And I don't think he's going to have enough money to make an impact. I like Huckabee personally. He has a very narrow appeal to high- school graduates and kind of working-class whites and evangelicals.
I like how he speaks about kitchen-table stuff. He was doing that long before President Obama was when he was talking about wages and health care and tuition; and I like that.
I just don't know -- and he's been on FOX for how many years? He's got the radio show. He's probably given the enemy so much material to work with there. I just don't think he's going to be able to pull it together. I think his time has passed. [Fox News, The Five, 5/5/15]
Mark Levin: Huckabee Has A “Big Government, Big Taxes, And Pro-Amnesty Record.” [Facebook.com, 5/6/15]
Michelle Malkin: “Huckabee Is A Lying Crapweasel On Common Core.” She also tweeted: “Mike Huckabee: Because there aren't enough Big Govt, soft-on-amnesty, Common Core weasel candidates in the GOP 2016 race.” [Twitter.com, 5/5/15; Twitter.com, 5/5/15]
Katie Pavlich: “Reminder: Mike Huckabee Granted Clemency To A Criminal Who Murdered Four Police Officers.” Pavlich, a Fox News contributor, criticized Huckabee over his clemency of Maurice Clemmons in a Townhall.com piece. [Townhall.com, 5/6/15]
David Harsanyi Cites Long Litany Of Complaints About Huckabee. Harsanyi, a senior editor at The Federalist and syndicated columnist, explained “why I dislike the political version of Mike Huckabee so much.” He cited, among other things, “his paternalistic attacks on pop culture” ; “his role as John McCain's hitman in the 2008 primaries” against Mitt Romney's faith; and “his rhetoric will often be indistinguishable from what we hear on the left.” [National Review, 5/8/15]
NRO's Ramesh Ponnuru Criticizes Huckabee's “FairTax” Proposal. Ponnuru, a senior editor for National Review, wrote of Huckabee's support for a “FairTax” : “Other forms of consumption tax wouldn't hit seniors as hard. The flat-tax plans several other candidates will probably be touting would not, for example. If I were one of those other candidates, I'd be tempted to call Huckabee's tax plan a massive, if backdoor, cut in the value of seniors' Social Security checks.” [NRO, 5/5/15]
Steve Deace: Huckabee Is Supporting “The Basis For A Permanent Welfare State.” Deace, an influential Iowa radio host, criticized Huckabee's positions on Medicare and Social Security, which are “not safety nets” but “the basis for a permanent welfare state.” [Salem Radio Network, The Steve Deace Show, 5/6/15, via Media Matters]