In December, it became quite obvious that Mike Huckabee’s second presidential campaign was on track to do even worse than his first. Facing weak poll numbers and anemic fundraising, Huckabee saw his top communications aide quit, and soon after, the campaign slashed the salaries of senior staffers.
Huckabee’s campaign manager – who also happens to be his daughter – conceded, “Obviously, if we go to Iowa and lose – well, frankly, we probably won’t keep going.” The former Arkansas governor added soon after that he’d settle for a top-three finish, which would encourage him to move forward.
That goal didn’t quite work out for the candidate who won Iowa eight years ago. Huckabee finished in ninth place with just 2% support, roughly tied with Ohio Gov. John Kasich, who wasn’t actually trying to compete in Iowa. Within a few hours of the caucuses starting, Huckabee called it quits.
Former Arkansas governor and 2008 Iowa caucus winner Mike Huckabee announced on Twitter he will suspend his presidential campaign after finishing near the bottom of the pack on Monday.Huckabee initially polled in the middle of a crowded Republican field in the Hawkeye State. But he was quickly overshadowed by political outsiders like Donald Trump and Ben Carson. Towards the end of his 2016 run he had been relegated to the undercard GOP debates.
With the Arkansan out, the Republican field, which once included an unprecedented 17 candidates, now stands at 11.
And while there’s no reason to kick a guy when he’s down, if Huckabee is leaving the stage with his head held high, he probably hasn’t been paying close enough attention to his candidacy.
The real problem with the Huckabee campaign wasn’t its low poll numbers or weak fundraising; it was the way in which the candidate conducted himself over the last several months.
For example, in November, as part of an anti-refugee push, Huckabee said President Obama’s “new domestic terrorism plan probably requires Americans to memorize Koran verses.” In September, Huckabee insisted the Supreme Court’s Dred Scot ruling is “still the law of the land.” In July, the Republican made ugly comments about nuclear diplomacy and the Holocaust that even surprised people who assume the worst of Huckabee.
All of this seemed designed to get the GOP candidate media attention, which worked to a limited extent, but which failed to translate into meaningful support from actual voters.
As for the road ahead, the former Fox News host and infomercial salesman hasn’t announced any plans for the future, but it’s a safe bet Huckabee will be peddling dubious miracle cures fairly soon.
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Mike Huckabee exits stage right