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New radio show will boost former presidential candidate’s presence

Posted: February 14, 2012 10:39 a.m.
Updated: February 15, 2012 5:00 a.m.

Talk radio’s No. 1 blowhard Rush Limbaugh will soon have competition in his afternoon timeslot with former White House contender Mike Huckabee set to begin a new program over the air waves in April.

While Limbaugh will continue his usual brand of boisterous political talk, Huckabee will be given a chance to create a more amicable conservative presence with his show. He’ll also be able to stay more connected to the voters who provided him with a surprisingly successful showing in the 2008 election.

While he didn’t clinch his party’s nomination four years ago, Huckabee did carry eight states which ultimately landed him a third place finish in the primary race. He was also the most successful in the southern states, winning Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Louisiana, Tennessee and West Virginia. 

But if Huckabee can find a place on the conservative talk radio landscape, it could provide him with ample opportunity to spread his message and try to establish a broader based presidential bid.

Huckabee seemed to come out of the 2008 election as the congenial candidate. A former Baptist preacher, he certainly has the gift of gab, especially compared to his top rivals from that year, John McCain and Mitt Romney.

He also comes from a blue-collar family, unlike Romney, the Republican Party’s likely 2012 nominee.

The son of a gas company clerk and a firefighter, he was raised in the small town of Hope, Ark., the same hometown as former Arkansas governor-turned-president Bill Clinton.

Also, this is actually not Huckabee’s first foray into radio broadcasting. In college, he worked during the week as a rock ’n’ roll DJ.

He also worked part time as a preacher during the weekends while in college, a job that pushed him toward becoming a full-time minister after graduating.

His strong religious convictions undoubtedly help him make a positive connection with evangelical voters, perhaps the biggest block of the Republicans’ electorate, particularly in the South.

But Huckabee’s record is not as squeaky clean as it would appear on the surface. During his years as Arkansas governor, he received hundreds of personal gifts from his campaign backers, including $112,000 worth of gifts in a single year according to financial disclosure forms. All the gifts were considered legal under campaign finance laws, but it still raises a few question marks.

He also gave an extraordinarily high number of clemencies to convicted criminals in Arkansas during his time as governor, a total that was reported to be more than three times that of the preceding governors combined. 

Additionally, he committed one of the biggest sins of his party, raising taxes so many times that he was actually labeled as a liberal by the conservative think tank Club for Growth.

 It seems that if Huckabee had run in 2012, he could have been considered the coveted anti-Romney candidate, but not in the way he would have liked. Romney enjoys support from fiscal conservatives, buts lacks backing from social conservatives. Huckabee easily finds a connection with social conservatives, but would likely struggle with economic conservatives if his record received significant scrutiny.

But with his new radio program, he’ll be given an additional platform to answer many of his critics. He’ll also be able to craft a more detailed campaign message, which will certainly help him if he ever decides to jump back in the game of presidential politics. 

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