With the early 2008 primaries moved up to just after New Year's, November is now the season for presidential endorsements, and I'm sad to report that my man Michael Huckabee just isn't getting any. Yet while it is amazing to me that the most consistent and vocal of the so-called pro-life candidates isn't receiving any major Christian endorsements, it is even more astounding that despite this fact, Huckabee is still polling 2nd among Republicans in Iowa—and is actually gaining on the front-runner!
First there was Sam Brownback, the convert-Catholic, and (until he dropped out) my pick for presidency, deciding to back John McCain. Then there was the bizarre choice of Christian televangelist, Pat Robertson, to support the publicly pro-choice and three-time divorcee Rudy Guiliani. Lastly comes the leak of today's expected announcement of the National Right to Life Committee to endorse Fred Thompson.
To myself, these endorsements make no sense unless you put politics over morals. Surely, as the only other candidate who was consistently and unabashedly pro-life, it seemed natural for Brownback to endorse the outspokenly anti-abortion Huckabee over the lukewarm Roe-v.-Wade opponent McCain, unless Sam was jealous that Huck stole his moral thunder. Also, any orthodox Catholic has to question how the National Right to Life Committee would pick Thompson, who in the past (1991) was an abortion-rights lobbyist and in the present (while vowing to appoint Supreme Court judges "who will overturn Roe v. Wade") is opposed to a federal constitutional amendment to ban abortion, over Huckabee—unless they believe that Huck just can't win. Finally, Robertson's jumping for Guiliani leads me to conclude he has either sold out or gone senile. Did Pat think that when he said the name "Rudy!" he was backing the diminutive Notre Dame defensive back who once led the Irish through the tunnel at Notre Dame Stadium? Or did Robertson, a former presidential candidate himself, think he would lose the little political influence he still had if he promoted a "loser"?
Fortunately, the upright Huckabee remains a lot more upbeat than me when evaluating his chances.
When asked about his remarkable surge among the voters in Iowa despite the lack of endorsements (not to mention money), Huckabee deadpanned, "I really think it's due to the Chuck Norris endorsement. With Chuck in my corner, people are afraid not to vote for me! But seriously, I think the success I have had there is due to a lot of hard work and prayer by my supporters."
"What do you make of the Robertson endorsement of Guiliani?" a reporter wondered.
Huckabee sighed, "I no more can explain that one than the time Pat said it was due to his prayers that a hurricane diverted its path and didn't strike Florida."
"Mike, Fred Thompson recently called you 'a pro-life liberal.' How do you respond?"
"Well, you know the Hollywood writers are on strike now, so I guess, without their help, that's the best Fred can do. At least he's half right. I am pro-life, but my voting record as governor of Arkansas would hardly classify me as a liberal."
"Do you agree with Guiliani when he says abortion isn't a main issue anymore, or with Thompson, who disagrees with the Roe v. Wade ruling but also says it is a matter for states, not the federal government, to decide?" asked another.
"I disagree with them both," Huckabee declared. "Not only do I believe that the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness should be guaranteed to all our citizens by the Constitution, calling it as a state's rights issue is to put it into the same category as slavery was before the Civil War. Then there were many politicians in the Northern states, where the state government did outlaw slavery, who said that while they were personally opposed to it, they must also let the Southern states decide the issue for themselves. But Abraham Lincoln didn't think so, and the majority of people elected him despite what the politicians said ..."
"Does it bother you that you are not getting any major endorsements?"
"Not really. They are nice to have, but I'd rather have the endorsement of a majority of voters than of a few big names."
And so, as Christian leaders such as Dr. James Dobson who is rumored to favor Huckabee but is thus far afraid to do so, continue to drag their feet, Huckabee continues to lift his own, both on the jogging path and campaign trail—and the people continue to follow. Huck might not have Brownback or Robertson, but he does have Jesus and Norris. And, if Walker, Texas Ranger is any gauge of this election, that just may be enough.