In just the past few days, Mike Huckabee, reluctant-sounding potential presidential candidate, has:
1.) Praised Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move” initiative:
“I still think her approach is the right one. I do not think that she is out there advocating that the government take over our dinner plates. In fact, she has not. She has been criticized unfairly by a lot of my fellow conservatives. I think it is out of a reflex rather than out of a thoughtful expression, and that is one of the things that bug me most about the political environment of the day … So rather than us condemn Michelle Obama, I think we ought to be thanking her, and praising her for what she’s done.”
2.) Downplayed the significance of the inflammatory sermons of Reverend Jeremiah Wright:
3.) Defended President Obama’s Christianity and natural-born citizenship:
4.) Lauded Obama’s example as a good father and husband:
5.) And said some other nice things:
What does this somewhat remarkably gracious attitude tell us about whether Huckabee is going to run? Nothing convincing either way, actually. On the one hand, it could signal that Huckabee feels no urge to humor the far-right voters who play an outsized role in the primaries, many of whom personally dislike Obama (not to mention his wife) and/or view him as an enemy of the American way of life rather than just a political opponent.
On the other hand, it could be a conscious strategy to position himself as the race’s moderate without actually abandoning his conservative credentials in any way. Mitt Romney, Sarah Palin, and Newt Gingrich — currently Huckabee’s three closest competitors, according to polls — have each shown a willingness to make personal attacks on President Obama, which is not surprising, considering the influence of the “mad as hell,” conspiratorial tea party. But not all Republican voters are mad as hell, or doubt Obama on a personal level. Huckabee might be exploring whether there’s an appetite for a candidate who offers an alternative to Obama without questioning his motives, intelligence, values, or patriotism.