Show Some Love, Mike Huckabee

Ready for a hug.

Photographer: Scott Olson/Getty Images

When he ran for president seven years ago, former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee proved to be a gracious winner. In his victory speech following his triumph in the Iowa caucuses, he drew inspiration from a fellow Christian writer:

G.K. Chesterton once said that a true soldier fights not because he hates those who are in front of him, but because he loves those who are behind him. Ladies and gentlemen, I recognize that running for office, it's not hating those who are in front of us. It's loving those who are behind us.

After a lengthy run as an author, paid speaker, and conservative television and radio host, Huckabee is back on the campaign trail, announcing another run for president on Tuesday. He is a compelling candidate: smart, agile and experienced. His proposal to replace the federal income tax with a national consumption tax is both more radical and more securely hinged than much on offer from his Republican rivals, many of whom seem to be competing to see which one can most quickly bankrupt the treasury and exacerbate inequality.

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Huckabee aims his populist pitch at culturally conservative working-class voters. Lately, however, he seems to be trafficking in sentiments -- and products -- that warrant skepticism, such as survivalist wares and dubious health cures. He has milked resentment for political profit as well, blaming “the militant gay community” for the unraveling of discriminatory legislation in Indiana and Arkansas, and summoning a bleak vision of a future when American churches are extinguished by secular leftists.

Yet Huckabee is not a fringe figure. Intelligent and charismatic, he has twice been elected governor of a state and, as a Baptist minister, can claim a degree of moral authority that eludes many other politicians. His campaign is an opportunity to show some love to those behind him, and maybe even a little charity to those in front.

To contact the senior editor responsible for Bloomberg View’s editorials: David Shipley at davidshipley@bloomberg.net.