Former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee lashed out against religious conservative leaders Wednesday, accusing them of trying to bilk gullible donors out of money while actually having no desire to pursue goals like outlawing same-sex marriage and banning abortion.
“A lot of them, quite frankly, I think they’re scared to death that if a guy like me got elected, I would actually do what I said I would do,” Huckabee said in an interview with Christian Right commentator Todd Starnes. “We would abolish abortion based on the 5th and 14th Amendment. We would ignore the Supreme Court’s same-sex marriage decision.”
Because he would take such actions as president, Huckabee said that he presents a problem for many Religious Right organizations since they would no longer be able to raise money to promote such causes.
“A lot of these organizations wouldn’t have the ability to do urgent fundraising because if we slay the dragon, what dragon do they continue to fight? And so, for many of them, it could be a real detriment to their organization’s abilities to gin up their supporters and raise contributions, and I know that sounds cynical but, Todd, it’s just, it is what it is,” Huckabee said.
The former Southern Baptist minister’s remarks come in the context of his problems gaining traction as a Republican presidential candidate. In 2008, he was the favorite among Christian nationalists but in this cycle, Huckabee has seen many of his former voters and staffers gravitate toward Senator Ted Cruz of Texas. As a candidate last time, Huackabee was able to win the Iowa Republican presidential caucus vote but this year, he is polling at around 3 percent support.
This was not the first time that Huckabee has criticized his former Religious Right allies for backing Cruz over him. In December, he told National Review that he couldn’t fathom why his former associates would turn on him.
I don’t even know what to say to that. That sort of blanket, ad hominem slandering of the brethren reveals something more than just candidate frustration. It’s bad enough to make claims about your opponents that aren’t factually true. It’s quite another to smear your brothers and sisters in the faith so publicly and without merit.
I’ve had my differences with some evangelical leaders over the years, but instead of blanket generalizations I’ve named names. Sometimes I was right, and sometimes I wasn’t. I have encountered people claiming to be evangelical leaders who are wolves in sheep’s clothing, just as there are in every reform movement belonging to any ideology.
But to blanketly impugn the character of some of the finest Christian leaders of this era, when Huckabee himself appeared before them and curried their favor for his own campaign ambitions, is…well….it’s lots of things and none of them are good.
Despite his anger at Huckabee’s criticism, Deace made a very similar accusation last September during a conversation on his program with Iowa Christian nationalist Bob Vander Plaats where the two discussed how angry they were at Fox News Channel personalities for daring to question Kentucky county clerk Kim Davis for refusing to grant marriage licenses to same-sex couples. According to Deace, he wanted to “throat punch” several unnamed Fox personalities, for defrauding grassroots conservatives
The real problem we have as a movement, Bob, is that we’re an industry and not a movement. There’s too many books to sell, too many commercial avails to sell out, too many ratings, too many donor lists, too many conferences, that when someone comes along like Kim Davis who threatens everybody’s gravy train by pointing out ‘you know, the other side is playing for keeps, they’re not going to compromise, it’s going to be all or nothing.’ […]
I mean all the stuff we say on Fox and on our talk shows and write in our blogs and in our books, and here comes this new believer, a woman who’s been a four times married Democrat with all kinds of out of wedlock and kids in divorce, her whole life changed around and starts reading and following this stuff and she thinks, ‘You know, you guys are inspiring me, that really speaks to me. I’m going to take that stand you guys put in all your fancy-pants books.’
And then what happens? Most of the people in the room with those fancy-pants books will line up to throw her under the bus. And as far as I’m concerned, all those people make me want to puke, I’d throat-punch every last one of them if God would let me. But he won’t. So I’ll pray for them instead, against my own will.
The presence of Vander Plaats for Deace’s rant was particularly ironic since he was accused by several Iowa conservative activists of selling his 2012 presidential endorsement of Rick Santorum for $1 million and attempting to do the same in 2008.