It is hard to criticize talker Steve Deace when it comes to his opinions of Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee. The only support for Huckabee on all of radio in 2008 may have come from Deace’s drive-time talk show in Des Moines, Iowa. But this time he got it wrong, I think.
On his Monday show, Deace discussed Huckabee’s appearance in Des Moines at The Family Leader conference Sunday. Deace believes that Huckabee missed an opportunity by focusing on life and family issues at the “Celebration of Family” fundraiser. When he was asked by his co-host Jen if the speech was presidential, he answered bluntly and quickly,
“Did you think it was a pastoral speech? Did you think it was a ‘I’m merely-headlining-a-fundraiser’ event?”
Deace answered, “Yes. I think if you were running for president that is not the speech I would have given….The speech I saw yesterday he could have given that exact same speech two years ago, three years ago. It was a speech…I’ve seen him give a speech like that before when he was a marginalized candidate who was trying to galvanize a constituency group that didn’t have a champion in that election cycle. Mitt Romney tried to fool them, John McCain tried to ignore them, Rudy Giuliani tried to work around them. They didn’t really have a champion. So he’s trying to galvanize that group saying “I’m one of you.” I’m your champion in this race and I believe in your issues. I think he’s…already taken that hill once before. And the idea of giving that same standard speech about life and marriage….I just took it as him trying to woo a group he’s already wooed and win over a group that he’s already won. There was some talk of linking the fiscal issues with the moral issues that he talked about, but that really was the minority of the speech. I would have actually flipped the ratio and I would have made that the central premise of my speech.”
Asked by Jen, “But what if he doesn’t know if he is running?”
“I think if you truly you don’t know, then you act as if you are.”
His recommends Huckabee show he is running for President, not running for the conservative movement and that he develop a slogan that is simple and answers the question “Why are you running for president?” He mentioned Barack Obama’s “Hope and Change”, “Tippecanoe and Tyler, Too”, “A Chicken in Every Pot”, etc.
Deace has gotten burned in the past with the insider politics and disdains the games politicians pay. Yet, here is a clear case of a politician not playing games but simply telling it like it is. Let Mike run his race his way. Support him or not, Huckabee does not want or need handlers. Deace ought to know better.
The problem with the analysis is that it misses who Mike Huckabee really is. Deace is all about strategy. Everything touches on politics. Inside politics is how he sees these things are won. And perhaps he thinks because Huckabee lost last time around, that he needs a major change in how he runs. But that is the “genius” that is Huckabee. He isn’t always in campaign mode. That doesn’t mean he is lackadaisical or will be uncaring about being president and pull a Fred Thompson. It just means he recognizes there is a time for everything. And 2012 could be his time. But 2010 is certainly not.
It might well be that Huckabee’s campaign strategy changes very little from 2008. He will have better name recognition. There will be fewer surprises on issues pertaining to his governorship in Arkansas. Most of all he has who he is. He is a man of principle. And that principle he showed the whole country on Sunday (or rather the few dozen people outside Des Moines paying attention and watching CNN). Some pundits are afraid that he cannot win over independents. I disagree. He appears able to win over pro-abortion or pro-homosexual marriage advocates with his cordiality.
Huckabee showed one pastor who had been leaning towards giving his support to Pawlenty that the Fox News television host is a courageous statesman. This pastor is a hard sell, but was moved By Huckabee’s speech. The governor demonstrated an understanding that if we don’t fix the moral problems in our country, fixing the fiscal ones won’t make much difference. But it wasn’t just the moral issues. It is his character.
 Deace got my goat a little when he called the rock-style music show throughout the event as “traditional worship”. But I’ll save that for another post, another day.
 I agree that when he does announce he would be wise to reach out to the whole country. I disagree with Deace, primarily because he misses the importance of the timing, location, and purpose of the IFPC event. I say this coming from my viewpoint that the debates should start yesterday. I also disagree with the assessment that his speech was primarily about fundraising.
 Thompson was accused of having no fire in his belly when he ran for president in 2008. He got a late start and announced on a late night television show the same day there was a debate with the other GOP candidates, which he missed.