Mike Huckabee is the Republican's Jared Fogel
Am I the only person mystified by the rise of Mike Huckabee as a Republican presidential hopeful?
It seems as if Huckabee is being touted as presidential material because he managed to lose 100 pounds and write a diet book. He's the Jared Fogel of politics.
Chris Cillizza writes:
Yes, that Mike Huckabee: The Arkansas governor who went from fat to fit, from munching to marathoning, from political unknown to a man profiled by the nation's leading news organizations. Huckabee's wild ride has not only transformed him physically but also politically. A few years ago he was best known as the second most famous politician from Hope, Arkansas. Now, Huckabee is mentioned on the short list of candidates for the 2008 Republican presidential nomination, alongside names like Sen. John McCain and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani.
Whether Huckabee can keep pace with these national notables depends on one question: Does he have the political heft to get voters to focus beyond what he's currently best-known for nationally -- his significant weight loss and adoption of a rigorous physical exercise and healthy eating regimen -- to his broader vision for the nation?
"A lot of people have sort of tied me to, 'Gosh, he's the guy that lost the weight and wrote the book," acknowledged Huckabee in an hour-long interview last week in Washington, D.C. "But that then usually leads to, 'Is there anything else about you, or is this it? Is that all you've got?'" [WaPo]
Of course, as Cillizza goes on to explain Huckabee is also an evangelical Christian who says he would have signed the South Dakota abortion ban:
Asked whether he considers himself to be more "preacher" or "politician," Huckabee insisted that it is impossible to separate the two. "I would say that my faith has everything to do with my politics," he explained. [WaPo]
Maybe it's smart marketing on Huckabee's part to play up his diet success story. Americans are universally preoccupied with weight. For your average evangelical Republican governor, a Colbert interview would be a trial by fire. Yet Huckabee's appearance on the Report was a breeze because it was all about weight loss. I don't recall any embarassing questions about religion or abortion.Update: Obviously, there are other reasons why Mike Huckabee is well-positioned for a presidential bid, namely that he's a Southern governor. He's staking out his turf as the "cultural" candidate, the guy who wants to run to the right of Santorum on abortion and gay rights. I just think it's interesting that he's introducing himself to the country as a diet book author first.