Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee reportedly thinks three Republican senators who were elected with Tea Party support are not as qualified as he is to be president.
According to National Review, Huckabee touted his executive experience on Monday and “implicitly made the case against” the potential candidacies of Sens. Ted Cruz (R-TX), Rand Paul (R-KY), and Marco Rubio (R-FL).
Huckabee reportedly said that if he decides not to run in 2016, he “would be supportive of someone who has had executive experience and who has been a governor prior to somebody having only had legislative experience, which I think is fundamentally different in the manner in which one serves.”
“Do you have the capacity, as an executive, to look at the whole battlefield and to see all the issues in play and how they integrate with each other?” he said, according to National Review. “And one of the things that I learned in ten-and-a-half years of being a governor, is that you don’t get to just enjoy the issues that are most endearing to you.”
Reportedly, he said that though he did not “mean to be audacious about it,” his experience was unique in qualifying him:
When you govern ten-and-a-half years in a state, when I inherited a legislature that was 89 out of 100 Democrats in the House and 31 out of 35 Democrats in the Senate, the most lopsided legislature in America–more than any other state, including Massachusetts or Vermont–and you still get, in every session, 90 percent plus of your legislative package passed, I think you get some experience of how do you govern.
He also allegedly slammed libertarians for wanting to “isolate,” and he implied that Rubio and Paul, both of whom are up for reelection in 2016, should not be able to run simultaneously for the Senate and the presidency.
Huckabee has had a healthy lead in many Iowa polls and would presumably be the frontrunner there. But the media landscape is a lot different from 2008, and there are questions about how nimble Huckabee would be in another campaign in which he would face serious questions from the right and the conservative grassroots about his executive record that he touted to reporters.
As Breitbart News noted after he met with House Republicans to discuss a potential presidential run in 2016, Huckabee “will have to answer questions about whether he would be the type of pro-life social conservative that votes in favor of bigger government and more spending like many members of the GOP-led Congress during the last decade that helped transform D.C. into a ‘Boomtown.'”
He’ll likely face an onslaught of questions on “immigration, fiscal issues, gifts that he received while he was the governor of Arkansas,” which the media may be more interested in after former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell’s scandal. In addition, “his questionable pardons and commutations that have been likened to Michael Dukakis’s pardon of Willie Horton” will be fair game; “Huckabee has released people from prison who have gone on to rape women and kill police officers.”
Huckabee may be insecure about his conservative credentials; his own fans turned on him earlier this year when he supported Sen. Lamar Alexander over anti-amnesty candidate Joe Carr in the Tennessee Senate primary. Huckabee also whined about needing to outlaw the term “RINO.” Huckabee wrote in January on his Facebook page, “One term that I’d like to see outlawed from the vernacular of the party is ‘RINO,'” adding, “It stands for Republicans in Name Only, and it’s a pejorative term that questions the authenticity and orthodoxy of someone’s party purity.”