Huckabee says neglected `value voters' are key to GOP future
Former presidential candidate Mike Huckabee, often mentioned as someone who could shepherd the GOP out of the political wilderness, says Republicans neglected religious conservatives this year and need to maintain their support as the party regroups.
"They were welcomed to the family table two days a year, and that was the primary and Election Day," the former Arkansas governor said at a press conference Wednesday (Nov. 19). "I think there's a point of frustration and exasperation where people are saying. `You know what? If you don't want us, just say so.' "
Out with a new book, "Do the Right Thing: Inside the Movement That's Bringing Common Sense Back to America," Huckabee spoke about the past and future of the Republican Party.
"There should not be the disconnect between value voters and those who consider themselves the fiscal conservatives," he said. "The truth is, most value voters are fiscal conservatives, but not all fiscal conservatives are value voters."
Huckabee said he has no immediate plans for a second White House run or for any other office and that the GOP would be "insane" if they tried to move away from issues like abortion or marriage that are key to religious conservatives.
"It's been an important part of our overall message, which is that traditional values still reach many people in this country," he said of the marriage issue. "And I think the sanctity of life issue is still an issue that draws people to the Republican Party who otherwise might not necessarily feel that much of a loyalty. It's not that it's the only
issue, but it's an issue that we have to be faithful to."
But Huckabee also was critical of conservative religious leaders including Texas megachurch pastor John Hagee, religious broadcaster Pat Robertson, Bob Jones University Chancellor Bob Jones III and former GOP presidential candidate Gary Bauer, who passed him over and endorsed other GOP candidates.
"I came to the conclusion that political expediency and pragmatism had supplanted prophetic principles among those who aspired to influence the process but unwittingly had become influenced by the process and, in fact, were held captive by it," Huckabee wrote.
Bauer, chairman of the Campaign for Working Families, issued a statement Tuesday saying he was disappointed in Huckabee's book.
"It is unfortunate ... at a time when the GOP needs to close ranks and seek unity, that Governor Huckabee in his new book has aimed his fire at his fellow Republicans," Bauer said.
Huckabee said he expected his words would anger some readers.
"I'm telling the honest facts of the story," he said. "I don't think I'm unfair or unkind, but I'm honest."
Huckabee said he thinks former GOP vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin has "a great future ahead of her" after rallying the Republican base, but he was noncommittal about his own political future.
"I'm not ruling anything out for the future but I'm not making any
specific plans to do something in the future politically," he said.