Thoughts, essays, and writings on Liberty. Written by the heirs of Patrick Henry.

September 7, 2007

A Ron Paul-Mike Huckabee Rematch ?

by Doug Mataconis

That, it seems, is what CNN would like to see happen:

After the recent FoxTV-managed GOP debate fireworks in New Hampshire, CNN is actively seeking to set up an “immediate” further debate between Ron Paul (R-Tex) and former governor and presidential candidate Mike Huckabee (AR). Huckabee has already accepted, certain presidential campaign observers say. And these sources add that the Ron Paul’s campaign is close to accepting as well, if the head-to-head discussion is not treated as a “sound bite” and lasts longer than a few minutes. It is not clear who would moderate such an exchange.

Ron Paul and Huckabee had a sharp exchange of words over the Iraq war during the recent GOP debate, with Ron Paul insisting, as he has throughout his campaign, that the war was a failed policy and that the troops ought to be withdrawn. Huckabee retorted that for the “honor” of the United States, the war must continue. Huckabee’s campaign manager Chip Saltsman said of the exchange: “Governor Huckabee clearly had a break-out moment during his exchange with Congressman Ron Paul during [the] debate – which illuminated his leadership qualities, experience, dedication to principle, and vision for a unified America.”

Saltsman’s opinion was echoed by some who seemed – following the debate – to give Huckabee the victory; however several GOP debate polls showed that Ron Paul won the overall debate handily, including Fox’s own cell-text poll. Ron Paul is a classical conservative in the Jeffersonian tradition and does not believe in aggressive military confrontations overseas without strong provocation. He hews to the minimalist tradition of government. His views have seen increasing mainstream acceptance during the nascent presidential campaign and his fund-raising continues to strengthen.

Close observers of the current campaign scene said that it is apparent that Huckabee is running out of money and was looking for a confrontation such as the one that developed in the hopes of raising his profile – and additional cash. These sources add that Huckabee has apparently adopted the strongly pro-war line of presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani in the hopes of being considered as a vice-presidential running mate for Giuliani. The mainstream press currently considers Giuliani to be the current Republican front-runner.

First a few observations. It’s clear that Huckabee had planned this confrontation from the beginning. Until the Iowa Straw Poll last month, he was basically a non-entity. Now he has a chance to turn himself into a contender. If not for the Presidential nomination, then maybe for the Vice-Presidential nomination. And, since, Giuliani is the apparent GOP frontrunner right now, he decided that appealing to that point of view would be in his interest. It’s an interesting strategy given the fact that Ron Paul’s first breakout moment back in May came in a debate confrontation with Giuliani himself, which I am still convinced Paul got the better of.

In other words, Huckabee is a player, and a phony and more concerned with his own electoral prospects than what’s actually the right thing to do.

Second, while it would seem to be wise for the Paul campaign to accept this invitation, it does invite some risks. There’s more to being a libertarian than just being opposed to the continued insanity that is the American occupation of Iraq (although I concede that many, including some contributors here will disagree with my opinion on the Iraq issue).

By continually being drawn into debates over Iraq and the War on Terror, Paul risks being defined as a one-issue candidate. And, while Iraq is an important issue, it’s not the only one, and it’s certainly not the only threat to individual liberty that Americans need to be worried about.

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  • js290

    Huckabee did call out Ron Paul in his most recent appearance on Colbert Report.

  • http://jasonpye.com/ Jason Pye

    Paul risks being defined as a one-issue candidate.

    I think that time has come and gone.

    I’ll vote for Ron Paul, but my patiences is wearing thin. He needs to go on to other issues.

  • Buckwheat

    Jason Pye,

    He would love to talk about, say, eliminating the Federal Reserve and the IRS in debates, but they don’t ask him questions about that.

    Doug Mataconis,

    decent post.

  • js290

    I think that time has come and gone.

    I’ll vote for Ron Paul, but my patiences is wearing thin. He needs to go on to other issues.

    Hilarious… Tell your parents there’s this new thing called the interweb where they can find all sorts of articles and videos of Ron Paul talking about all sorts of other issues.

  • Scott McDonnell

    I agree, Ron Paul is not being asked about anything other than the war. I don’t really know how he can break out from that, except maybe to be fiesty and challenge someone directly like Huckabee did to him. It at least seems to interest the forum enough to allow a back-and-forth if it is good.

    Having said that, I liked how forceful Ron Paul was during this debate. He needs to do more of the same, less angry maybe and more passion.

    The problem is that it all sounds good to his already supporters because we know the context behind what he is saying. I am worried about people just tuning in thinking he is ONLY against the war like Tancredo is ONLY against immigration (which isn’t his only issue, but he is in the same boat.)

    BTW, my volunteer group grew by 15 members the night of the debates. So it wasn’t all bad! That’s about three weeks worth in one night.

  • Bob

    All Ron Paul supporters know the drill. When someone comes up to us and wants to talk about Ron Paul do they mention the Austrian school of economics, the gold standard, repealing the 17th or 16th Amendments? No, what they want to talk about is the war. Its a foot in the door. If Rep. Paul starts to more up in the polls because of his opposition to the war he’ll get more media attention which will give him a chance to talk about his other issues.

  • russ

    um, Paul is about to give a major economic speech i think @Johns Hopkins or somewhere. he was invited. it’s going to be huge. i thought you guys know this, it’s on freemarketnews.com

  • chukmaty

    Considering that Huckabee has been go after Guliani and Romney all along in his own creative way, I think your analysis is completely wrong. He has said that he would have serious problems sharing ticket with a candidate that was pro choice because he got into politics for the purpose of promoting the sanctity of life.

    Ron Paul is a wonderful human being who is maybe a bit to radical libertarian for reality but overall has drawn the discussion on fiscal issues in a conservative responsible direction which I appreciate. I wish I could say the same for his supporters. Huckabee and Paul are the two most authentic men running for the Republican nomination.

    I believe that Huckabee won the debate and i frankly do not care if he planned to make a strong statement to Paul. Ron Paul has planned at making strong statements and it is what makes him such an intriguing candidate in the first place.

    I think Huckabee should get the best of any debate he has with Fred Thompson or Ron Paul and I hope that both those debates happen.

  • http://www.thelibertypapers.org Stephen Littau

    Doug, I don’t think that if Huckabee wants more exposure, that in itself makes him a phony. They all want maximum exposure.

  • Paul S

    I think Huckabee needs to worry more about Romney, McCain, Thompson and Giuliani than Ron Paul. Paul is a joke. Picking on him is like picking on the little retarted boy at the back of the class.

  • FullyAlive

    I’d like to see the rematch, Paul would annihilate Huckabee. Anyone know who’s hosting the next debate?

  • Robert Micheal of the Saints

    All I listen to is candidates say how great they are and Mc cain is. They say they are going to give us a strong Military, health care, a pre-emtive war on terror strategy, but never say how they intend to pay for it…we borrow 3 Bilion a day from China and Japan,,HOW ARE WE GOING TO PAY??? Some one please tell me,,,

    Answer Ron Paul, small government, no interevention. It is the only way,,,

  • Robert Standard

    Funny you call it an American “occupation” of Iraq, when in poll after poll, the Iraqis themselves fear us pulling out. Some of them are in fact, begging us to stay for their own security and well-being.

    I’d hardly call that an “occupying” force.

  • Chepe Noyon

    Mr. Standard, the legal terminology is clear: this is an occupation. Whether it is a beneficial occupation or a harmful occupation is a matter for debate; but there’s no question that it is an occupation.

    As to the matter of Iraqi opinion regarding the American occupation: we know that the Iraqis were strongly opposed to the occupation up to about a year ago. Then things started changing in complex ways. It’s difficult to get good opinion samples in the current conditions. It appears that the Sunnis and Kurds very much want us to stay, because we are the primary bulwark against Shia oppression. However, the Shias, who constitute the majority, seem to be unenthusiastic about our continued presence there. It’s difficult to say just yet exactly how they feel on this matter.

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