The 2016 Republican Primary Is Getting More Interesting All The Time

Is it wrong of me to feel a little giddy thinking about the 2016 Republican presidential primaries? It is going to be a hoot and a holler, and with the midterms now behind us, potential candidates are moving quickly. The latest is a certain smooth-talking Baptist minister from Arkansas who is guaranteed to liven up the proceedings:

Advisers are already scouting real estate in Little Rock, Ark., for a possible presidential campaign headquarters.

Huckabee is scheduled to spend part of November holding private meetings with powerful GOP financiers in Las Vegas, New York, and California, gauging their interest in being bundlers for his possible campaign and asking for pledges of five-to six-figure donations to his aligned organizations. And he is planning two strategy sessions in December, in Little Rock and Destin, Fla., near his new Gulf Coast home, to discuss timing, potential staffing, and an opening pitch to voters.

In January, Huckabee will publish "God, Guns, Grits, and Gravy," his latest manifesto on politics and culture.

I'm sure that "God, Guns, Grits, and Gravy" will be a dense tome packed with subtle analysis and detailed policy prescriptions (and I say that as one who actually read one of Huckabee's previous books, something not too many Americans can claim). But even if the book disappoints, Huckabee is without question one of the more interesting candidates, someone who takes the standard menu of repellent conservative issue positions and serves them up dripping with honey and smiles, delivered in a comforting voice honed by thousands of sermons and radio shows.

As Ed Kilgore notes, one of the themes of that profile, and surely the Huckabee campaign, is that he's supposedly an economic populist who can connect with Americans' insecurities in a way other candidates can't. His chief strategist tells the reporters that  "Huckabee's 'common touch' and his ability to talk about income inequality would contrast with Clinton." You can repeat all you like that Mike Huckabee would be able to talk about economic inequality, but I'm not sure what precisely he'd be saying. While it's certainly true that Huckabee is more down-home and reg'lar than Hillary Clinton, at some point he'd have to put some meat on the bones of this supposed populism. Is he going to be advocating for an increase in the minimum wage? Paid family leave? Tax increases for the wealthy? I doubt it.

But Huck will certainly stand out as the friendliest, happiest candidate in a phalanx of grim and angry contenders. And there sure will be a lot of them. The RNC recently sent out a straw poll to its supporters and included a remarkable 32 candidates. Many of them won't actually be running (I'm doubtful that "Ready For Pawlenty" is gaining steam), but I count no fewer than 15 Republicans whom I'd say were more likely than not to run. They'll all be playing "Who's the most conservative?" while bludgeoning each other desperately, and with Huckabee in the race, there'll be no shortage of folksy aphorisms. It's going to be a lot of fun. 

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