Palin Focus Overshadows a Worthy Huckabee - NBC Bay Area

Palin Focus Overshadows a Worthy Huckabee

Ex-Arkansas gov has experience, but lacks beauty



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    Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee wonders why all the GOP focus seems to be on Sarah Palin.

    Sarah Palin is no flash-in-the-pan. After 15 months in the spotlight, she remains the "It" girl of the right -- perhaps to the consternation of another Republican governor who would like to be your president.

    The former Alaska governor has weighed in on key elections, with candidates courting her endorsement. Her memoir, "Going Rogue," hits shelves in a week amid fanfare that will include face time with Oprah Winfrey and Barbara Walters. Naturally, that book tour will take her to Iowa, the state where all presidential campaigns are launched. 

    The Palin-mania seems to have gotten to one of her potential rivals for the 2012 GOP presidential nomination. Mike Huckabeesounded mildly annoyed at all the focus on the lady from the frozen north, whom Politico calls the GOP's rock star:

    “Some of the people who had excoriated me and really been very dismissive of me for views that I had taken, and labeled me anything from a populist to an ignoramus — the same people have been very defensive [of] and laudatory to Sarah Palin,” Huckabee noted, adding that he’d invited her to appear on his weekly Fox show but “could never get any contact.”

    “I’m glad she’s getting the props — I know I’m not nearly as attractive,” he said with a guileless grin.

    Huckabee may not be his party's rock star, but he is a bona fide rock n' roller. The former Arkansas governor plays bass guitar in a band cleverly called Capitol Offense and another on his weekend Fox show, called the Little Rockers. Huckabee buttresses his musical talent with a folksy sense of humor that takes the edge of what might otherwise be an intimidating Baptist preacher -- which he happens to be. This odd mixture of folksy charm, musical talent and political savvy helped Huckabee tame a mainstream media that usually greets hard-core socially conservative candidates with suspicion or outright hostility.

    In fact, Huckabee's harshest criticism came from the right-wing chattering class, which found his views on economics and record as Arkansas governor as insufficiently conservative. But of the three governors expected to vie for the GOP nod, Huckabee has by far the most experience as an elected chief executive. He moved into the Arkansas governor's mansion after Bill Clinton's successor, Jim Guy Tucker, went to jail. He finished that term, then won two more to serve a total of 10 1/2 years. For those keeping track, that's more than Mitt Romney (one four-year term in Massachusetts) and Palin (two-and-a-half years in one abortive term in Alaska) combined.

    Given all that, shouldn't Mike Huckabee be getting a bit more love from the Republican faithful?


    New York writer Robert A. George blogs at Ragged Thots. Follow him on Twitter.