The Club for Growth wasted little time in firing the latest salvo in its long war with former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, the Washington Examiner reported.
Huckabee and the free-market group have clashed repeatedly since the 2008 Republican primaries over his record during 11 years as governor of the Razorback State.
Huckabee has repeatedly emphasized that he oversaw "the largest tax cut in my state's history" and cut taxes 90 times. Moreover, he left the state with a surplus of close to $1 billion when he left office in 2007.
The Club for Growth, by contrast, has long said that Huckabee's account is misleading, and that he presided over large tax increases and spending increases during his time in Little Rock.
Within days of Huckabee's announcement that he will end his Fox News Channel show while he considers a run for the White House, the Club for Growth's new president, former Indiana Republican congressman David McIntosh, blasted his record in Arkansas.
"As Mike Huckabee weighs the pros and cons of a second presidential candidacy, he should know that the Club for Growth PAC will make sure that Republican primary voters thoroughly examine his exceptionally poor record of raising taxes and spending as governor," McIntosh said. "In a year in which GOP voters appear likely to have several good pro-economic growth candidates to choose from, Mike Huckabee’s big government record would stand out from the crowd, and not in a good way."
McIntosh pointed to a 2008 "white paper" the Club for Growth issued on Huckabee (part of a series of detailed reports on the economic records of the major candidates for president) which said that Huckabee "raised sales taxes repeatedly, supported an internet sales tax, and backed taxes on groceries, gasoline, cigarettes, and nursing homes," the Examiner's Paul Bedard reported.
Moreover, the group said, he increased state spending by 65.3 percent – three times the rate of inflation. The number of state government workers increased by 20 percent and the governor also "raised the minimum wage and threatened to investigate so-called 'price gouging'
if gasoline prices went up."
Bloomberg's David Weigel
wrote that the feud between Huckabee and the Club for Growth actually goes back to 2001, when the governor backed a state senator named Gunner DeLay for a safe Republican seat in the House of Representatives. The Club for Growth – determined to drive the Republican Party to the right on economic issues – backed a local optometrist named John Boozman over Huckabee's choice.
Boozman won the primary and captured the congressional seat. Today, he is Arkansas' senior U.S. senator.
Over the past 14 years, Huckabee has clashed with the Club for Growth, according to Weigel. In 2007, he referred to the group as the "Club for Greed" and suggested it would not help a child with asthma sitting on the steps of a hospital.
The Club for Growth released a video of a 2003 speech Huckabee gave to the Arkansas legislature in which he said he could accept an income tax surcharge.
"The video wounded Huckabee, but it did not stop him from winning the Iowa caucuses," Weigel wrote. "Ever since, he has attacked the Club and its candidates, often plowing into races where he assumes he has a following to endorse a candidate over the Club pick. He often loses. But the fights, and the losses, don't register when he weighs his support from conservative voters for 2016."
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