Evangelicals Like Huckabee & McCain
In the Iowa Caucuses, former Arkansas
Gov. Mike Huckabee trounced Mitt Romney by 34 percent to 25 percent.
That defeat made Romney vulnerable to a second pummeling in New
Hampshire by Sen. John McCain, 37 percent to 32 percent.
How did Huckabee come from nowhere in
the polls to defeat Romney, who outspent him 100-1, mostly on anti-Huckabee
ads? First, he is appealing candidate who is very articulate and has a
winsome sense of humor. Second, he’s a deeply committed evangelical who
other evangelicals instantly recognize as a brother.
He did not have Romney’s recent pro-life conversion but has always
believed that each conceived child has the same right to “life, liberty
and pursuit of happiness” as any newborn. Not only is he a former pastor
but the previous President of the Arkansas Baptist Convention. Yet he
served longer as governor (ten years) than as pastor.
Sixty percent of Iowa
Republican described themselves as evangelicals, who voted for Huckabee
over Romney by 2-1. McCain, who garnered only 13 percent of Iowa’s vote,
offered an explanation that Romney should have heeded in New Hampshire:
“The lesson of this election is Iowa is that, one, you can’t buy an
election in Iowa. And two, negative ads don’t work.”
With only 23 percent of
N.H. voters claiming to be evangelical, their votes were split almost
equally between Huckabee, McCain and Romney. Huckabee spent only
$40,000 on N.H. ads compared to $1.5 million by Romney, and still came
in third at 11 percent, beating Giuliani, Thompson and others.
More importantly, Huckabee
leads in South Carolina polls. In a Monday poll he beat Romney by 36 to
19 percent with 17 for McCain. Note: since 1980, no candidate has
become the GOP nominee without winning South Carolina.
Furthermore, in three out
of four NATIONAL polls, Huckabee is in front. Last Monday an AP poll
gave Huckabee 25 percent vs. 20 for Giuliani and 19 for Romney.
evangelicals like the fact Huckabee is not only concerned about global
warming, but has proposed a “cap and trade tax” that gives polluters an
incentive to clean up. They also agree with him that the Bush foreign
policy has been arrogant.
“Evangelicals are saying
we need to address our national image that is in disrepute, and agree we
need to acknowledge with a certain humility, that what other countries
think about us matters,” says Richard Cizik, Vice President of the
National Association of Evangelicals. “We have to collaborate with
others in our fight against terrorism. Huckabee is also concerned about
global hunger and poverty.”
Curiously, the only major
evangelical supporting Huckabee is Don Wildmon, President of the
American Family Association. Pat Robertson oddly backed Giuliani and
some others, Fred Thompson who got a deserved 1 percent vote in New
Neither evangelical nor
Catholic leaders said much about John McCain, who thwacked Romney in
New Hampshire. McCain has always been prolife. No major candidate has
more extensive international experience. He urged the firing of Don
Rumsfeld and is the author of the troop surge, which was very unpopular
– and successful.
“He is a principled, gutsy
guy who is a national icon on such issues as immigration, the
environment, and especially on the war, who also opposes special
interests buying of American democracy,” Cizik asserted.
As a person who has
represented evangelicals in Washington for 30 years, Cizik concedes, “I
put a lot of stock on experience. Nothing tests you more than having to
make decisions, choices between equally flawed options. John McCain has
made those decisions. He’s much more experienced than Huckabee.”
Does that mean Cizik
supports McCain over Huckabee? No. “I could vote for either one.
Huckabee is an obvious leader, well spoken. His victory speech in Iowa
articulated Christian ideals without mentioning his Christian faith. He
said it is important how you treat your enemies.
“Also the youngest
candidate won in each party – Obama and Huckabee. McCain is the oldest
Presidential candidate at 71. His face is disfigured due to the five
years of torture he suffered. But some of the greatest Presidents have
not been handsome, like as Abe Lincoln.”
Both men have their
liabilities. Huckabee’s “Fair Tax” that would eliminate all forms of
corporate and personal income taxes and replace them with a giant 30
percent sales tax seems unwise and unworkable to me. McCain’s campaign
finance reform removed the right of non-profit groups to air ads
critical of candidates near an election. However, the Supreme Court
struck that down.
However, both men deserve