Members attending the Republican National Committee meeting rallied behind former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee for his remarks attacking the Democrats for "insulting" women with birth control subsidies.
Following Huckabee's luncheon speech at the meeting on Thursday, breathless reports in the media focused almost exclusively upon 54 words that dealt with the Democrats' claim that Republicans have been waging a "war on women."
"If the Democrats want to insult the women of America by making them believe that they are helpless without Uncle Sugar coming in and providing for them a prescription each month for birth control because they cannot control their libido or their reproductive system without the help of the government, then so be it," said Huckabee. "Let's take that discussion all across America."
What made the spirited support for Huckabee among the 168-member RNC particularly newsworthy was that it spread from Southern conservatives and evangelicals, who would be expected to side with Huckabee, to more moderate GOP leaders in the North who would be considered his likeliest critics.
"He gave a fine speech," New Hampshire Republican National Committeeman Steve Duprey, who described himself as "one of the most adamant supporters of choice [on abortion] and gay rights," told Newsmax. "In hindsight, the dramatic language he used may have taken more attention from his message but it was an important one: The 'war on women' is a great marketing issue but a false issue."
Delaware State GOP Chairman Charles Copeland also weighed in on the side of the 2008 presidential hopeful and Fox TV host, saying Huckabee "made the right points for the right crowd. He touched on the problems of internal name-calling we have, and said 'Hey, let's win the next election.'"
Asked by Newsmax if he had any problems with Huckabee's speech, Copeland replied emphatically: "No."
Asked if he would invite Huckabee to speak at party events in Delaware, the chairman said: "Oh, sure."
California Republican Shawn Steel, who calls himself "more libertarian," said he "was not upset at all by what Gov. Huckabee said.
"What I like about his arguments — which are irrefutable — is the challenge that U.S. families face. Even liberals have to agree with this. And he gave an openly optimistic talk about there being a way out for the middle class."
Utah State Chairman James Evans told Newsmax: "Gov. Huckabee's speech was right on and I agree with what he said." As for media criticism of some of his remarks, Evans said: "I tend not to respond to the established media."
What many RNC members preferred to discuss was Huckabee's admonition to fellow Republicans to stop attacking one another and dividing the party.
"I agree with him on that," District of Columbia GOP Chairman Ron Phillips told Newsmax. "The only thing that will kill Republicans in '14 and '16 is the party itself. If the tea party and other factions want change, they have to vote for Republicans, regardless of who the candidate is."
As for media criticism of what it considered Huckabee's controversial statements, Phillips said: "What people forget is he started out as a minister, a man of the cloth. This is a case of Mike Huckabee being Mike Huckabee. He's genuine."
John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax.
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