I can't believe that I'm going to write this, but I like Mike Huckabee, former Governor of Arkansas and current Republican presidential contender. He's way to conservative to get my vote, but I'm a registered Democrat so that doesn't matter. What matters is that I don't think he has a prayer at getting his party's nomination .....but I'm getting ahead of myself.
Huckabee comes from Hope, Arkansas (also the hometown of Bill Clinton) and though we share nary a single political view, I find him intriguing. His campaign by-line these days is "Proven leader. Authentic Conservative." That's a direct hit against the wishy-washy social conservatives in the GOP field (he's talking to you Romney, Giuliani, and McCain). And Huckabee is looking to remind potential primary voters that he was a two-term Governor (finishing his second term in 2007). He chaired the National Governor's Conference for the last two years of his term. Chairing the Governor's Conference is a sign that Huckabee can do the bi-partisan dance since both Democrats and Republicans choose the chair.
Huckabee is genuine religious conservative, having attended Ouachita Baptist University, where he majored in religion. He also attended seminary and was a Baptist minister before he entered politics. Huckabee's religious creds are obviously the real deal, and though he's honest about his religious faith, I've not seen him exploit it in the way that politicians often do. In the most recent Republican debate, he expressed his religious views in a genuine and honest fashion. I don't share those views, but I do respect them.
In keeping with his social conservatism, he's opposed to same sex marriage and he's pro-life. He opposes stem cell research. This is your standard social conservative profile and it's nothing distinctive.
Policy-wise, he buys into the wacky view that we need to control immigration to protect our national security. He opposes amnesty for current illegals, favoring deportation or significant penalties............both completely foolish and unrealistic proposals. He's got other nutty policy ideas, including his proposal that we eliminate all income taxes (on individuals and corporations alike) and replace it with his FairTax revenue plan. The FairTax is essentially a consumption tax and yeah, it's crazy. He pays lip service to the need to improve healthcare in the U.S., but he doesn't have a plan to actually make that happen, though he's sure that government needn't be involved. Whatever.
On the other hand, he's a big proponent of teaching art and music to school kids, which is an awfully refreshing thing to hear from any presidential candidates, especially in the era of No Child Left Behind.
While I don't like most of what he stands for, I like Huckabee because he seems to honestly hold his convictions. I think his convictions are largely out-of-touch with the American electorate as a whole, but his views are your standard GOP base pablum. So why won't he get the nod? Huckabee isn't going to be the nominee because Republicans are so obsessed with winning that these voters won't look at the second or third-tier candidates, even if those are the candidates who most honestly reflect their views.
In my view, this is the path to party trouble, because a successful party must have some convictions, something to believe in. This isn't a situation where winning for the sake of winning will do the trick. It won't do the trick because it won't lead to good governance. The winner must have some ideas that people can truly believe in. And that's turning out to be a greater challenge than anyone expected.