More and More Uncomfortable With the Campaign of Mike Huckabee and The Influence of Evangelical Christians In Iowa
Posted By WLS:
1. I don’t consider myself an Evangelical Christian, though some in my family are. My wife is Catholic, and I have no strong affinity towards any demonination. That said, I am a social conservative, but not a one issue voter, and at this time and place in history, national security is my over-riding concern.
2. My preferences at this point in the GOP race are 1) Giuliani 2) Thompson 3) Romney 4) McCain.
It has been reported in a variety of places that up to 40% of GOP caucus goers in Iowa will be Evangelical Christians. And over the last 3 months we have witnessed the rapid ascent in the fortunes of Mike Huckabee in Iowa, the former Southern Baptist Pastor.
It has been reported (under-reported in my view) that one reason for Huckabee’s rise in the polls in Iowa from 3% in August, to where he is today, somewhere around 40% – a period during which he lacked money, resources, and paid staff in the state — has been the use by his campaign of mass e-mails to pastors of various Evangelical churches in Iowa, who have then distributed those emails as well as emails supporting Huckabee to their congregations.
Here’s an example of one such email that went out a few months ago when Huckabee was battling with Brownback to be the standard-bearer of the Evangelical right:
The following e-mail was sent to a number of Iowa evangelicals. The author is Rev. Tim Rude, a pastor at the Walnut Creek Community Church in Windsor Heights, Iowa.
Dear XXX and XXX,
Pastors XXX and XXX relayed to me that you are both supporting Sam Brownback for President. It sounds like there is, in fact, regular contact with Senator Brownback and yourselves. I applaud your participation in the selection of the next president of the United States. It is our duty as Christians to take our stewardship of this country extremely serious. And I am sure that you are aware that our entire Walnut Creek leadership staff, to my knowledge, is supporting Mike Huckabee.
On July 20, we drove up to Ames and spoke with pastors XXX and XXX about our position and were well received. However, it sounds like you are the men we need to communicate with about our advocacy. I am interested in your decision to support this candidate. As you know, both candidates are down in the polls. Nation-wide polls show Brownback at 1% and Huckabee at 3% amongst Republican candidates.
About 3 weeks ago, I met the Governor personally. I learned that he was a Southern Baptist pastor for 12 years. The Governor told us that he concluded that people needed to gain positions in the government in order to safeguard our Christian values. People need to make that sacrifice. He served as LT. Governor prior to serving as governor for 10 and a half years.
The second time he ran for Gov. he gained over 48% of the black vote. That is remarkable and it conveys he can really broaden his base. I think he is electable. He is a remarkable communicator. I believe as people listen to him, just like in Arkansas, they will like what he says and like him personally. I have listened to him in private and over the radio. He is the best communicator I have ever heard run for office. President Reagan was a great communicator but he did not as closely represent a Christian perspective as does Huckabee, although Reagan did a very good job.
Huckabee is an evangelical. He has not learned how to speak to evangelicals; i.e. Bush 41 & 43. He is one of us. I know Senator Brownback converted to Roman Catholicism in 2002. Frankly, as a recovering Catholic myself, that is all I need to know about his discernment when compared to the Governor’s. I don’t if this fact is widely known among evangelicals who are supporting Brownback.
The one criticism of Huckabee is that he raised taxes in Arkansas. First of all, is that he had to raise money to meet some Federally imposed funding initiatives. When he took office, Arkansas was 47th ranked state in education. When he left office, they were 23rd rank. The roads were in horrible shape in the aftermath of the Clintons. He raised money for them. This is a constitutionally sanctioned responsibility of government. He cut taxes 86 times in Arkansas. He left with a budget surplus that was significant. He also left office with an 86% approval rating. He can build consensus even in a primarily Democratic state.
Michael Ferris of the Home School Legal Defense Association enthusiastically endorses him as does the former Promise Keeper magazine New Man.
There is much more to say. Like you, we are trying to make a 1st or 2nd place showing in the Iowa Straw Poll to give our candidates a boost and viability. Money and media attention would be gained to the winners. All Huckabee needs is exposure in my opinion. The money will come and will the volunteers. I would ask you to reconsider your support of Senator Brownback; and lead your people in not splitting the Christian vote among the two candidates. I have been impressed with the pastors across the Greater Des Moines area switching their support or giving their support for the Governor. We are in Iowa for ‘such a time as this’.
XXX church is trying to gain 1000 votes of people who were not planning on going to the Iowa Straw Poll from our efforts alone. Would you join us in accomplishing this goal?
Your brother and friend,
What disturbs me about such an approach is not that Evangelicals seek to align themselves with a candidate who shares their “Christian values”, but the fact that they seem to be so willing to overlook the obvious flaws of Huckabee simply because “He is one of us.” But this same guy is outside the “GOP tent” on just about every policy he pursued as Governor of Arkansas.
Most important to me is the fact that he is completely weak-kneed on matters crime and national security. This guy issued twice as many commutations and pardons in his 10 ½ years as governor of Arkansas than Clinton, Jim Guy Tucker, and Frank White issued in their combined 17 ½ years as Governor before him — 1033 to 517.
Governors in states surrounding Arkansas used their clemency powers much more judiciously – and almost never for murderers serving life without parole or for rapists or for habitual drunk drivers, while in Arkansas it’s a regular habit with Huckabee.
From 1996 to 2004, these are the numbers of commutations and pardons granted by the Governors in states surrounding Arkansas (keep in mind the population of these states is nearly 20 times the population of Arkansas):
Louisiana – 213.
Mississippi – 24.
Missouri – 79.
Oklahoma – 178.
Tennessee – 32.
Texas – 98 (including 36 inmates convicted with planted evidence).
Huckabee alone issued 703 commutations and pardons in the same time period. Governors in neighboring states almost never grant killers clemency, while Huckabee commuted the sentences of a dozen murderers.
What disturbs me most is the apparent role his religiosity played in his decision-making on the subject, at least as it is anecdotally recalled:
The acts of clemency benefitted the stepson of a staff member, murderers who worked at the governor’s mansion, a rock star and inmates who received good words from their pastors.
“It seems to be true at least anecdotally that if a minister is involved, (Huckabee) seems likely to grant clemency,” prosecutor Robert Herzfeld said in 2004 after successfully battling the then-governor over the release of a killer.
This gets us to the Dumond case, which I think represents decision-making so egregious in nature as to be a disqualifier for anyone seeking to make life and death decisions for the entire country in the Oval Office. His decision making in the Dumond case, in large measure, was again influenced by his religiosity. This view is supported by a passage from campaign book where he wrote that his intervention on Dumond’s behalf reflected his broad philosophy that the criminal justice system is too harsh, and that his religious faith requires him to take chances to act with compassion towards the accused.
DUMOND WASN’T THE “ACCUSED” — HE WAS A CONFESSED RAPIST AND MURDERER.
Regarding the Dumond case, a Huckabee adviser has said: “It might have been wrongheaded for him to do what he did. But his heart might have been in the right place even though the outcome was horrific. What he did was for reasons of faith and compassion.”
I wonder how much Huckabee’s decision was influenced by the fact that Dumond’s innocence was championed in Arkansas by Jay Cole, a Baptist minister and radio host who was a close friend of the Huckabee family.
If it was only Dumond — but its not.
The case of Glen Green is equally as compelling as it is repugnant.
Green was convicted of rape and murder, and sentenced to life without parole. Huckabee granted him clemency and made him eligible for parole. If Huckabee read the confession and still considered Green deserving of parole, he’s certainly unfit to hold office.
The facts here are from a column column by Garrick Felder of the Arkansas Leader — who may be a political enemy of Huckabee for all I know, but Huckabee’s track record on this subject is too well established to be merely the product of policital enemies. Felder says Huckabee apparently listened to Green’s minister (and a friend of the governor), who thinks the murder was an accident and Green was forced to confess.
The Jacksonville police, who arrested Green in 1974 after a witness linked him to the crime, think the minister and Huckabee are both delusional, which is the mildest epitaph we can print.
This old police reporter knows a genuine confession when he sees one, and Green’s depravity has the ring of truth.
Green, a 22-year-old sergeant, kidnapped Helen Lynette Spencer on Little Rock Air Force Base, where he beat and kicked her as he tried to rape her in a secluded area. She broke loose and ran toward the barracks’ parking lot, where he caught up with her and beat her with a pair of nunchucks.
He then stuffed her into the trunk of his car and left her there while he cleaned up. Several hours later, he drove down Graham Road, past Loop Road and stopped near a bridge in Lonoke County. Green told investigators he put her body in the front seat and raped her because her body was still warm.
He dragged Spencer out of his vehicle and put her in front of the car and ran over her several times, going back and forth. He then collected himself long enough to dump her body in Twin Prairie Bayou.
This is what the Rev. Johnny Jackson, interim pastor at Bethel Baptist Church in Jacksonville, calls an accident, and apparently Huckabee believes him.
But its Huckabee’s religious standing that is the VERY REASON why Evangelicals in Iowa support him. Amazing — a reliance on his “Faith” when it has produced such asinine decisions. Well, I have no interest in trusting my safety, the safety of my family, or the national security of my country to a country preacher who informs his decision-making on matters of life and death with his “faith and compassion.” I prefer leaders who mix in some hard facts.
I tend to agree with this description of Huckabee that I read somewhere recently – he’s a former Arkansas governor without the intellect or political skills of the last former Arkansas governor to be elected President.
Well, I hope in the end that that’s good enough for Iowa, but I fear it is.
Alternatively, I’m heartened by the fact that a bunch of doe-eyed yokels who’d give 25% of their votes to Pat Robertson, are easily outsmarted by citizens in other parts of the country who then made Pat Robertson into a footnote in the 1988 campaign after he got only 9% in New Hampshire.
I should probably stop here since my blood pressure is rising along with the level of my invective.