Mike Huckabee’s American History Lesson

Or to be more accurate, alternative American history lesson. Mike Huckabee, who is leading ABC’s latest G.O.P. presidential poll, informed George Stephanopoulos that President Obama will be very difficult to beat because “only one time since 1868 has an incumbent president been taken out who ran for reelection and that’s when Jimmy Carter ran in 1980.” (At the 1:17 mark)

Oh yeah, I forgot – George H.W. Bush won reelection in 1992 (despite violating his “no new taxes” pledge) and Bill Clinton ran again later to beat Dan Quayle in 1996.

What’s a little surprising to me is how little play this has received so far and that Stephanopoulos, who worked on Bill Clinton’s successful campaign to defeat the incumbent President Bush, didn’t call him on it! Why did he let Huckabee get by with this blatant historical error?

Okay, so he got his facts wrong, how is this different from other faux pas of presidential candidates of recent memory?

This one is different. This wasn’t a hasty misstatement of how many states are in the union or a slip of the tongue, Huckabee apparently has spent some time contemplating how Jimmy Carter is the only incumbent president to be voted out of office since 1868. He wanted very much to “remind” the viewers of this historical “fact.”

This is a man who would be president.

A big deal?

You tell me.

  • http://www.belowthebeltway.com Doug Mataconis

    Huckabee got it more wrong that just forgetting Bush 41.

    since 1868, the following incumbents lost their re-election bids:

    Grover Cleveland (1888), Benjamin Harrison (1892), William Howard Taft (1912), Herbert Hoover (1932), Jimmy Carter (1980), George H.W. Bush (1992)

  • http://fpffressminds.blogspot.com/ Stephen Littau

    There is also Gerald Ford who was also an incumbent (though he was never elected; I’m guessing that’s why you didn’t include him).

    I didn’t mean to suggest that Bush was the only other president to fail to win reelection; I knew there were more (though I didn’t happen to know off the top of my head and didn’t take the time to look it up).

  • http://www.belowthebeltway.com Doug Mataconis


    Ford was an oversight, and although he wasn’t elected he still counts as an incumbent who wasn’t re-elected

  • http://fpffressminds.blogspot.com/ Stephen Littau

    I guess that when he said “once” he really meant “7 times” since 1868.

  • Peter

    Mike huckabee is an idiot, and he has no chance of beating Obama, and even if he does we would not be moving in the right direction.

  • Dan

    Big deal, he misspoke. At least he hasn’t called any group bitter who cling to their guns and religion or a typical white person. Or claimed America has 52 states. You’re just scared he’ll beat Obama, because when all the hope and change faded, America was left with the realization it needs an executive-governor, not a community organizer.

  • http://thelibertypapers.org/ Brad Warbiany


    No, I’m pulling for Gary Johnson. He’s about the only Republican around that could get me off my libertarian high horse and actually vote for the R party.

    You nominate Huckabee, and instead of a secular liberal [Obama], you’ll just get a Christian liberal. Huck’s own record (as opposed to Johnson) shows that he is not solid in any way, shape, or form on conservative principles. There’s a reason he’s called Tax Hike Mike.

  • Clacks

    I sure do like this Mike Huckabee..hope he runs–

  • http://forum.trianglefreeforum.com John

    I gotta go with Brad here, the only name out there at all that isn’t some public nutjob of stupidity is Mr. Johnson. (That doesn’t count Dr. Paul the elder, I’ve written his name in on the ballot the past two prezinut elections).

  • JD

    Pretty sure he just meant that no democratic incumbent has been defeated since 1868. This statement still isn’t strictly true, but makes more sense if you neglect the case of Grover Cleveland (which is fairly reasonable, I think).