Iowa Still Crushing on Anti-Choice Huckabee

My crush on Mike Huckabee, the boyish, honey-tongued Southern Baptist preacher and Republican presidential hopeful, sparked alight and was abruptly extinguished within about an hour's span during last night's CNN/YouTube Republican debates. But apparently, Iowans' love affair with Huckabee is just beginning.

While he still trails in national polls, the former Republican governor of Arkansas surged from a tied fourth-place finish in an ABC/Washington Post poll conducted on July 31, to a close second place finish, just behind Mitt Romney, in that poll repeated on November 18, among likely Republican caucus-goers in Iowa. And a significant 48% (the highest percentage) of Huckabee supporters said they would "definitely support" him on caucus day.

Twenty-eight percent of voters (the highest percentage) most trusted Huckabee to handle "social issues, such as abortion and gay civil unions." (If by "handle" you mean overturn and prevent, respectively.) And that may account for Huckabee's popularity. At the very end of the poll, voters were asked whether they thought "abortion should be legal in all cases, legal in most cases, illegal in most cases or illegal in all cases." A whopping 75% said it should be illegal, of whom 51% thought it should be illegal in all cases. No wonder Huckabee is doing so well in that state.

But does the percentage of Republican Iowans who believe abortion should be illegal reflect the beliefs of Republicans nationwide? The Republican Majority for Choice, an outfit that describes itself as a "pro-choice, common sense Republican organization," conducted a poll last June determining that though 61% of Republicans surveyed nationwide identified as pro-life, 72% of those surveyed believed that abortion should be a decision made by a woman, her family, and her doctor. A mere 18% felt that the government should decide on abortion rights. Newsflash: if you want to keep the government out of the decision, keep it legal! When releasing the Republican Majority for Choice poll over the summer, the organization's co-chair, Jennifer Stockman, stated in a press release, "The extreme far-right rhetoric and focus of many presidential candidates speaks only to a fringe minority. The true beliefs of the real Republican majority show tolerance on moral issues and a clear demand that GOP leaders focus on areas where we unite as a Party." The poll also found that 60% of Republicans would vote for a candidate that did not share their view on abortion if they agreed on other matters.

I suppose it's a good thing for the Grand Old Party, given how inchoate Republican positions on abortion are this time around. For example, RH Reality Check's friend Journey's video question aired, asking what a woman who obtains an abortion should be charged with, and what her penalty should be. Then Ron Paul and Fred Thompson stumbled through blame-the-doctor answers, and Paul said it shouldn't "be the same" for all states. As Journey herself later pointed out, if these candidates really think abortion is murder, then "murder-for-hire is still illegal." While these national politicians might not seem as outwardly cruel to women as picket-line protestors outside abortion clinics, their scathing disregard for the fact that women know what they're doing when they obtain abortions implies that they, like clinic protestors, can't imagine that women can act in their own self-interest. (Fred Thompson apparently thinks only "young girls – young women" ever get abortions. I guess if you want to think of women as infantile and incapable of purposeful action, it helps to think of them as underage.)

Host Anderson Cooper gave Mitt Romney and Rudy Giuliani an infuriating pass on this question, but the rest of us shouldn't. On Feministing, here, and elsewhere, a spirited discussion is breaking out about this very point. As Vanessa noted on Feministing, when anti-choicers can't answer a basic follow-up question on their beliefs on abortion, this is an opportunity not just to reframe the debate, but to reclaim it outright. And maybe, awed by the force of our logic, the Republicans who believe abortion should be a decision a woman makes on her own will come out of the woodwork.

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  • invalid-0

    What is with the support of Huckabee? I don’t get it. Its just more of the same.

    RON PAUL 2008

  • invalid-0

    “In 40 years of medical practice, I never once considered
    performing an abortion, nor did I ever find abortion
    necessary to save the life of a pregnant woman.”

    “In Congress, I have authored H.R. 1094. This legislation
    seeks to define life as beginning at conception.”

    “I am also the prime sponsor of H.R. 300, which would
    negate the effect of Roe v. Wade by removing the
    ability of federal courts to interfere with state legislation
    to protect life. This is a practical, direct approach
    to ending the federal court tyranny that threatens our
    constitutional republic and has caused the deaths of
    45 million of the unborn.”

    “I have also authored H.R. 1095, which prevents federal
    funds to be used for so-called ‘population control.”’

  • invalid-0

    Dr Paul is personally against abortion but believes in States right to choose. Overturning Roe v Wade would force States to decide for themselves where they stand on this issue, and not have a one-solution-for-all mandated to them from Washington. This is the heart of Ron Paul’s popularity.

    A recent Zogby Poll showed that when all voters are polled, rather than just “likely Republican voters” he wins easily with 32.8% See:

  • invalid-0

    You raise a poignant issue. I agree ideally there should be one universally true answer. But in reality are laws are shaped by the consensus opinion (we hope!). So getting one universal answer eluded us. Another new poll you might want to look at:
    Iowa State University Straw Poll of 2,185 students:

    – Ron Paul- 27%
    – Mitt Romney- 24%
    – Mike Huckabee- 15%
    – Rudy Giuliani- 13%
    – Fred Thompson- 10%
    – John McCain- 10%
    – Tom Tancredo- 2%

  • invalid-0

    You said that this law should be enacted on the basis of a woman’s opinion. That is a ridiculous statement. Law must be founded on an objective truth, otherwise a majority or subjective belief can become law when it is blatantly wrong. Nazi Germany was a majority and they desired to eradicate the Jewish population. It was their subjective worldview that brought that on. By your logic, law would be reduced to how we “feel” about issues. If that is the case, then when people feel like killing themselves we should let them. Ridiculous. Facts based on feelings are not facts, only false beliefs.

  • invalid-0

    External laws yes, moral laws no. We have created external laws on abortion based on opinion. The morality of it though has nothing to do with opinion. It is either right or wrong. And sadly the folly of man has him saying things like: “I personally oppose abortion (taking of an unborn life), but support the right to choose.”

  • invalid-0

    I never knew this about the man. I am starting to think he is conservative on life but liberal on almost everthing else.

    Disc jockey for president
    Tuesday, Nov 27, 2007

    By John Brummett

    One of the national writers putting together a profile of Mike Huckabee asked how it might be that this preacher showed such an affinity for popular culture.

    The Chuck Norris alliance, the tailgate party in South Carolina with the wrestler, the pardon for Keith Richards, the playing of bass guitar in a rock cover band offering Lynyrd Skynyrd – isn’t all that out of character for a man from the Southern Baptist pulpit?

    Actually, Huckabee was a radio man before he was a preacher and he has remained more decidedly a media man than a pulpit man.

    His superficially likable nature, which provides the essence of his oddly succeeding presidential campaign, comes via a disc jockey’s shtick rather than a pastor’s. I refer to the rich intonations of his professional voice, the music, the hip topicality, the impersonations, the jokes, the Mr. Glib.

    It can’t be those radical policies. Outlawing abortion altogether, not merely leaving it to the states, is extreme. A national sales tax to replace the income tax is a gimmick, either scandalously regressive or entirely too difficult to design so that it wouldn’t be. He barely scratches the surface on foreign policy with what got described over the weekend as “cheerful know-nothingness.” He denies the better points of his record in Arkansas, since they’re entirely too moderate for modern Republican primary voters.

    His is wholly a candidate of personality, and, as such, is more Don Imus than Billy Graham.

    Yes, Imus. Huckabee can be mean and inappropriate. It usually doesn’t get revealed until the second impression. He’s still making his first out there on the trail.

    As a midteen, Huckabee found work, including some on-air, on a Hope radio station. Then he had one of those seminal religious moments. So he figured he’d apply his talents and interests to serve Jesus through Christian broadcasting.

    That led him to the seminary, after which, almost by accident, he got preaching work in Pine Bluff, then Texarkana. In both towns, he supplemented the preaching with work for which he was better-suited and that he more enjoyed. That would be a local cable television show.

    He attained the presidency of the Arkansas Baptist Convention not so much by conventional preaching as by the clever politics of making himself palatable both to fundamentalists and moderates. It was from there that he moved to secular politics.

    When Huckabee was lieutenant governor, needing something to do in that pointless job, he accepted an invitation to substitute for a vacationing radio talk show host. He invited me to be his guest, mainly so he and his callers could berate me. He was fully at home and adept in the radio booth.

    One day as he prepared to ascend to the governorship, Huckabee had a news conference. I was struck by his intimacy with the TV cameramen. He joshed with them authoritatively about their equipment, specifically about the comparative modernity of one station’s gear versus another’s.

    Then the producer of his cable show in Texarkana, Gary Underwood, joined the governor’s staff. Huckabee and Underwood transformed the governor’s conference room into an audiovisual studio. They produced a slick, self-promotional cable television program that they distributed for use by ever-pliable local access channels.

    As Huckabee prepared to become governor, he said one of his dreams was to do radio play-by-play for a Razorback football game. Naturally, as the new governor, he was obliged. He described a few downs, smoothly and ably, of course.

    From time to time I’ve written an unoriginal but incisive line, which is that Huckabee is really running for his own show on Fox or MSNBC. I’m sticking with that.

    But I’ll admit there are moments lately when I wonder if he’ll have to go through the motions of being the Republican presidential or vice presidential nominee first.


    John Brummett is a columnist for the Arkansas News Bureau in Little Rock. His e-mail address is; his telephone number is (501) 374-0699.

  • scott-swenson

    Since you're interested in facts, perhaps you could respond to those printed in the internationally acclaimed medical journal, The Lancet, recently. If you don't want to read the entire study and its methodology or statistical evidence, here's a quick summary asking why alleged anti-choice voices are so silent in reacting to this.

    Be the change you seek,

    Scott Swenson, Editor