GOP Adviser Conway: Huckabee Could Win but Won't Run

Tuesday, 08 Jul 2014 06:16 PM

By Bill Hoffmann

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Editor's Note: Every day this week, "The Steve Malzberg Show" on Newsmax TV takes you on “The Road to the White House,” a look at some of the top presidential contenders for 2016.

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee is on target on many vital issues that Americans care about, but it's doubtful he'll run for president in 2016, leading GOP adviser Kellyanne Conway says.

"It's a less than 50 percent [chance he'll run]. This would be his last shot,'' Conway, president and CEO of the polling company inc., told "The Steve Malzberg Show" on Newsmax TV on Tuesday.

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But Huckabee, who now hosts a television talk show, does have political attributes that would appeal to core Republican voters, Conway says.

"There's one big issue right now that really is a sweet spot for many of these evangelical voters in Iowa and early primary caucus voters elsewhere,'' Conway said.

"That is that people believe that their religious liberties are under assault. So, whether it's abortion or marriage, those are the most specific issues.

"But as a broader umbrella, the entire [issue of] religious freedom, and that's really one of Gov. Huckabee's calling cards.''

Huckabee sought the Republican presidential nomination in 2008, but eventually bowed out, with Sen. John McCain winning the slot.

Conway thinks he would run on the same platform of ideals again.

"What you saw in 2008 is what you would get in 2016 also. That sets Gov. Huckabee apart from some others who have been around that long,'' she said.

"The breadth of a robust and diverse Republican Party is putting forth frontrunners like Rand Paul and Mike Huckabee.''

Conway said the Democratic Party has no such diversity of thought.

"The argument there in the [Democratic] party right now is between the hard left and the hard, hard left. So, at least in this regard you see the breadth,'' she said.

"In Gov. Huckabee's case, consistency is seen as principle . . . and that's incredibly valuable to voters.''

What about Huckabee's chances against the presumed Democratic candidate, former first lady and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

"Gov. Huckabee seems like somebody who could run effectively against a female candidate and not make it seem like he's being derogatory and impolite,'' she said.

"It's not that him being evangelical or a person of faith is off-putting to most of American women. It's when people of faith sound sanctimonious or judgmental or holier than thou.''

Huckabee also has a sincerity that works when he explains his pro-life views, says Conway

"The fact is, in Mike Huckabee's case, he can say, I was a preacher, I'm a Christian, and so I believe that life begins at conception, ends at natural death,'' she said.

"It sort of softens it for people because it explains why you hold this view. He's better than most at explaining why he's pro-life or how he developed his views on traditional marriage . . . He's a pretty affable messenger.''

So couldn't Huckabee prevail in 2016?

"One word is 'Florida.' Florida was problematic in the end, and the other word is 'money.' You run out of money,'' Conway said.

"Caucuses are different than primaries, and winner-take-all primaries are how Mitt Romney eventually took over Newt Gingrich in 2012 and why Rick Santorum left.''

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