As the contentious Republican Senate primary in Mississippi heads for a runoff, candidates Thad Cochran and Chris McDaniel should be mindful of the problems facing the country and not just their political differences, says former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee.
Neither Cochran, the six-term senator, nor his charismatic challenger McDaniel garnered the required 50 percent of votes to win Tuesday's election, so the two rivals will square off again in a runoff on June 24.
Huckabee told J.D. Hayworth on "America's Forum" on Newsmax TV that the two men need to sell the voters in Mississippi on how they plan to solve the vast issues facing the country and not on why their individual beliefs are paramount.
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"This isn't about some nuances among Republicans," Huckabee said. "That's all fine when we're at a time when everything is going well. It's not going well. Our economy's in the toilet, we're losing ground economically, we're losing ground on the world stage.
"Our opportunities for young people have never been more in blight. It's something like a huge percentage of 18- to 34-year-olds are now living at home with their parents because they don't have enough money to go out on their own. We've got some real issues to deal with, and we can't afford a little infighting over things that aren't as big as the problems are."
Huckabee acknowledged that this primary has been "a nasty race," one that has seen local blogger Clayton Kelly, a McDaniel supporter, allegedly sneak into a nursing home to take a picture of Cochran's wife, Rose, who has been suffering from dementia for more than a decade.
Kelly then posted the photo
to his blog as part of a video attempting to fuel rumors of an affair between Cochran and his executive assistant.
Huckabee called the incident "the most disgusting thing I've ever heard of in politics, and believe me, I've heard of a lot of disgusting things in politics before."
But he said Republicans in the state need to get past that for the greater good.
"People have to start focusing on the fact that there are bigger differences between all the Republicans in the tent and the Democrats than there are just among Republicans," Huckabee said.
"One thing I don't understand that it seems like that some in our party think that the way to expand the tent is to throw the people out who are already in there. I'm not sure that makes a whole lot of sense to me.
"We need more Republicans, not fewer, and if somebody agrees with me whether it's, as Ronald Reagan used to say, 80 percent of the time or in some cases 90 percent, they're still a heck of a lot closer to me than is Nancy Pelosi or Harry Reid."
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Huckabee pointed to Iowa primary winner Joni Ernst, she of the infamous "castrating hog" commercials, as a perfect example of a candidate striking a non-acrimonious but resonant tone with voters during the primaries, one he anticipates will carry over into the general election.
"Joni Ernst is one of those candidates that captured a lot of attention," he said. "She brought a wonderful, imaginative ad that just took everybody off their feet.
"Here's the interesting thing, in places like Arkansas and Mississippi and Iowa and Nebraska, people love that ad. Now, the elites over on the coast thought it was incredibly poor taste for her to talk about castrating pigs and making them squeal.
"But you know, the people out there in the heartland of America loved it, and Joni Ernst is on her way to being the U.S. senator. She had a terrific resume, it was a great opportunity for the people in Iowa to say, here's not only a mom, but a combat veteran. Here's a person who's been on the state legislature, she understands the government process, you know she's the whole package."
In an earlier segment, Huckabee told Hayworth that Republicans should fare well in the midterm elections as more Americans become disenfranchised with President Barack Obama.
"This is a president who's exercised not only an arrogance toward his office and toward all those other branches of government and the checks and balances that we're supposed to have, but this is a president who from a management standpoint has shown he is incompetent," Huckabee said.
"He can't manage domestic issues, whether it's the VA or the NSA, and he can't manage the world stage, whether it's Putin, Syria, terrorists from Gitmo."
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