Mike Huckabee Showers Praise On Sarah Palin, 2012 Republican Field, Except Mitt Romney
Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee weighed in on the gamut of likely 2012 Republican presidential candidates during an appearance on "Fox News Sunday." And while the Arkansas Republican offered diplomatic praise for his colleagues -- while candidly admitting that he too was thinking of mounting a bid -- his remarks stood out for their coldness to one: Mitt Romney.
"The Massachusetts healthcare bill essentially is the blueprint for Obamacare," said Huckabee. "That is going to be an issue he has to confront. There is no doubt in my mind he is running, and I think he is a formidable candidate. ... He has the organization. He has got the money, and he's got sort of the inside track with a lot of the Republican establishment."
None of the above is particularly untrue. Nor is Huckabee unique for insisting that Romney will have to account for the health care legislation he passed as governor. But considering the context -- a national television appearance, a year-and-a-half before a GOP primary vote -- the comment was notable for its directness (saying someone has the establishment backing is not a compliment in this climate). Huckabee showered platitudes and compliments on the other potential presidential aspirants, including those he has criticized in the past. Just not Mitt.
On former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, he said the following:
"She has got the fire, the energy and I think there are a lot of Republicans who love her, would support her, and she would be a very strong presence in a presidential primary."
On Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels:
"I'm a big fan of Mitch Daniels. I don't want any one to interpret that statement that I made as I somehow think he is lacking in presidential temper. ... I just don't want him to back away from issues that will energize and have energized 40-50 percent of the Republican base."
On former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush:
"I love Jeb Bush. He is one of the smartest and most articulate. If Jeb decided to run I think it would be hard for any one to overwhelm him. ... He is, in many ways, one of the best, most talented people we have in the Republican Party."
As for his own candidacy:
"I haven't closed the door. I think that would be foolish on my part, especially when poll after poll shows there is a strong sentiment out there. I end up leading a lot of the polls. I'm the Republican that clearly at this point does better against Obama than any other Republican. I'm not totally unaware of that. But that is a long way from making a decision to run for president."
The rivalry between Huckabee and Romney extends, of course, back to the Iowa caucus in 2008. The two certainly present disparate images for the future of the party. But the underlying issue here is that many in the GOP simply don't like or trust Romney -- something that the former Massachusetts Governor has tried to counteract by investing heavily in various congressional and gubernatorial races during the past year.