Why as a conservative don’t I support the presidential candidacy of Mike Huckabee? Another great example is highlighted this morning by Jim Geraghty at NRO’s Campaign Spot:
The Thompson campaign has video of one of those pro-Huckabee push polls.
More than a few South Carolina readers have reported the same calls, as well as Campaign Spot Senior South Carolina Correspondent.
I’m neither impressed by the Huckabee campaign, nor from Common Sense Issues, the group behind the calls.
Sure, the Huckabee campaign says they don’t support this, and they’re calling on it to stop. But let’s see some anger. Let’s have Huckabee call up Davis, the guy who’s doing this and say, “stop it, you’re hurting my campaign.” Come on out and denounce Davis as a mudslinging slime merchant who’s manufacturing cynicism on a grand scale. (They’re saying they’ll make a million calls in South Carolina!) The governor’s a good wordsmith, I’m sure he can put it even better than that. Let’s see some fire and brimstone. Tepid words to the Associated Press aren’t going to deter Davis.
If Huckabee supporters want to make Thompson’s lobbying in two or three meetings 17 years ago the reason Republicans shouldn’t vote for him in the primary, they should come on out and say it. Don’t do this in the dark of night, hoping to reach primary voters who aren’t familiar with the issue. If this really was such an objectionable, disqualifying bit of Thompson’s background, we would be hearing it from the candidate himself.
In short, it’s cheap political slime.
When Thompson or others criticize his record publicly, Huckabee dodges and weaves with his Clintonesque evasive charm, as documented at Powerline (here and here and here and here).
Then Huckabee plays the passive-aggressive “conspiracy” victim role. Meanwhile, rather than making direct challenges about his opponents’ records, Huckabee resorts to showing the negative ads he won’t run and winks as surrogates smear voters with push-polling. What kind of “Christian leader” would do this? None other than a neo-populist demagogue with occasional and convenient conservative views. In the unlikely scenario the GOP decides to nominate this guy for President, we will get everything we deserve.
It’s also interesting to note that the person behind these auto-dial push polls is Patrick Davis of Common Sense Issues, the group that produced ads highlighting some negatives in Boulder liberal Mark Udall’s record. Commercial ads to criticize a liberal Democrat, but underhanded push-polls to smear a fellow Republican? Geraghty is right in his advice for Gov. Huckabee: “Come on out and denounce Davis as a mudslinging slime merchant who’s manufacturing cynicism on a grand scale.”