Leader Blues

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

EDITORIALS>>Huck keeps moving up

It was a good-news, bad-news week for Mike Huckabee, who is beginning to be more than a favorite-son candidate for president.

The Rasmussen daily tracking poll Friday elevated him to fourth place among the Republican candidates, a little ahead of former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and not far behind Sen. John McCain.

The front-runners, Rudy Giuliani and Fred Thompson, are not that far ahead.

Huckabee, who remains far, far behind the pack in fundraising, has all along said if he could only get into fourth place . . . If this poll is to be believed, he’s finally there.

The bad news? It was expected. Now that he is a contender, his record and not just his presidential campaign patter is getting some attention.

The right-wing columnist John Fund of the Wall Street Journal wrote an unflattering piece about our man’s tax-and-spend record in Arkansas.

Huckabee is not the true-blue conservative he claims to be for many audiences now, Fund said.

Another pundit, who once wrote editorials for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette in Huckbee’s first term as governor, contested Huckabee’s conservative bona-tides. It will soon be a chorus.

His record has been both Huck-abee’s strength and his Achilles’ heel, as we have had occasion to observe.

He is one of the most liberal governors in Arkansas history, having accounted for more tax increases than any other and having enlarged state government more than any other.

He has exorbitantly inflated his record as a tax-cutter on the stump and now that will catch up with him.

But we continue to believe that if he will shoot straight with the Republican constituencies, his record and his moderate views on such things as immigration and government health assistance could make him the party’s best opponent to Sen. Hillary Clinton, the expected Democratic nominee. That is not the conventional wisdom, but it will be his best pitch.

Ernie Dumas writes editorials for The Leader.