WASHINGTON – Former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee, a leading GOP presidential hopeful, predicted the 2012 primaries would be a bloodbath for his party and could gift reelection to President Barack Obama on a silver plate.
In a wide-ranging interview with The Washington Post, Huckabee revealed his concerns about running again in 2012 and offered a strikingly pessimistic take on his party’s prospects for capturing the White House.
Obama “is going to be much tougher to beat than people in our party think,” Huckabee said. “He’s going to have a clear ride through to the Democratic nomination, because no one is going to oppose him or challenge him.
“He’s going to start out with a billion dollars, no opponent, so he can save his money to the last four months. He’s got a huge social network and he has the power of the incumbency. People underestimate how sweet it is flying on Air Force One with all the trappings of the presidency.”
Meanwhile, Republicans “could in fact end up with a demolition derby,” he lamented. “Whoever emerges will come out bloody, bruised and broke.”
If polling is any indication, Huckabee is a top-three candidate for the GOP presidential nomination in 2012, sharing the stage with former governors Mitt Romney and Sarah Palin. The clear frontrunner for the Iowa caucuses, which he won in 2008, Huckabee has built a loyal nationwide following among religious conservatives, a critical portion of the Republican base.
In remarks that may irk the party faithful, Huckabee questioned whether the tea party — which he praised for bringing disenfranchised voters into the political process — would permit the nomination of a candidate who’s more interested in governing than feeding red meat to the base.
“What I don’t know is, does this translate into a party of such ultraorthodoxy that no one with a record of actually governing can get through the mire?” he said.
Huckabee was so vocal to the Post regarding his concerns about running in 2012 — money, preparation, health, and his general dislike of the process — that the ensuing headline was, “Does Mike Huckabee still want to be president?”
The former governor’s misgivings could keep him away from the contest, of course, but his comments to the Post could also simply be part of a media strategy that involves lower expectations in the early stages.