Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Hewitt and Huckabee - Anatomy of a campaign

In wrestling, an 'angle' is the story arc between characters. There is a storyline currently taking place between APF pundit Hugh Hewitt and Republican Presidential candidate Mike Huckabee that i'd like to focus on. I've covered events as they've unfolded through its news cycle before but I've never really broken down a story play by play. I thought it would be interesting to unpack an angle as it played out.

a) Tuesday October 30, 2007
It's widely known that Hugh has pretty much called the GOP race a 'two-man show' between Rudy Giuliani and Mitt Romney, inferring that a vote for anyone else is a wasted vote. To muddy the waters further Hugh has written "the" book on Romney, A Mormon in the White House?: 10 Things Every American Should Know about Mitt Romney. Whether it really is a 2 man debate is questionable as most polls put Fred Thompson 2nd ahead of Romney. Fred, Rudy and Romney are are generally considered 1st tier candidates, though 2nd tier candidate Mike Huckabee has been gaining ground.
Hugh addresses this perceived bias later in this angle.
Listen to Hugh talk about his thoughts on the Republican nomination here.

b) Wednesday October 31, 2007
Hugh interviews Governor Mike Huckabee. Callers ring in to Hugh's show after the interview expressing disappointment and regret at Mike's answers. Huckabee fans complain that Hugh is impartial because of his connections with Mitt Romney.
Listen to Hugh's interview with Huckabee followed by listener phone calls

c) Thursday, November 1, 2007
On his blog Hugh provides a backstory on the Huckabee angle, then goes on to question his strength on conservative values:
But there is a real question about Huckabee's ideological commitment to the bottom-line for many conservatives .... long-serving governors like Mike Huckabee, should be the most experienced and most forceful advocates for a robust federalism .... But for now, those suspicions about Mike Huckabee's conservative credentials seem more solid than they were even two weeks ago."
In his blog Hugh admits that there is an assumption that he has all but discounted the other candidates. He addresses this through the case of second tier candidate, Governor Mike Huckabee.
...I think Huckabee has a prayer --and little else-- of being the GOP nominee, but when significant pundits have time to take a few shots at you, it is worth a closer look.
Huckabee fans have accused me of being anti-Mike for some time because of my view that the GOP race is a two man show between Rudy Giuliani and Mitt Romney My protests that I am just handicapping the race and not giving air time to the second tier GOPers have been unpersuasive to the Huckabee supporters, so I knew they'd be listening closely to my questions Wednesday to see if they contained an agenda.
Read the full column here

d) Mike Huckabee was a guest on APF pundit Bill O'Reilly's show directly after Hugh's interview (view the interview here). Hugh is concerned by Bill's line of questioning in regards to religion. Although a deeply religious and vocal Christian, Hugh does not believe there should be a religious litmus test for presidential candidates.
I wrote at length about the dangers of theology as a guide to presidential qualifications and as a subject for close inspection by journalists covering candidates in A Mormon In The White House. One part of the argument was that demands on Romney to explain his LDS beliefs would set evangelicals and Catholics at the top of a very steep, very slippery slope. O'Reilly's interview questions confirms that my concerns were justified, and the slip down the slope begun.

Read Hugh's full post here.
Hugh also discussed this issue with guest Jim Geraghty on his show.
Listen to the audio here in the 3rd segment. It is a short but interesting exchange on what they call a "bizarre" exchange between Huckabee and O'Reilly. There are a few shots taken against Bill's ego thrown in as well.

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