(Photo: Reuters/Daniel Acker)
Even Republicans miss former President Bill Clinton's pragmatic governing style, Mike Huckabee said Sunday on ABC's "This Week."
"I think the pragmatic way in which Bill Clinton governed as president makes even Republicans want to get the bumper strips that say, 'I miss Bill,'" Huckabee said, "because he understood that in governing you do have to sit down and work out your differences."
Huckabee, a Republican, was the governor of Arkansas, the same position Clinton held before he became president. He argued that Clinton's experience as a governor made him better prepared to be president than Obama.
"He was a governor, he was an executive, he understood the dynamics of it," Huckabee said. "I think what is really hurting Barack Obama [is] he simply does not understand the dynamics of being the chief executive because he's never had that position before as a governor, a mayor, heck, not even as a sheriff. He has never been in that position, and it's showing."
Ed Rendell, former Democratic governor of Pennsylvania, took exception to that remark. The reason that Obama has not worked with Republicans, Rendell argued, is that Republicans have been more focused on defeating him in the next election than working on bipartisan solutions.
"It's hard to expect the president to reach out when [in] the middle of the first year [of Obama's term], the Republican leader of the Senate says, 'our number one priority is to defeat the president,' not to pass legislation that is good for America," Rendell said, "and, the Republican Party, ... that's been their mantra ever since. They don't want him to succeed. They don't want any legislation to pass…"
The debate about Obama's performance as president has intensified with Clinton's recent series of statements that have undermined some of the messages made by the president.
While the Obama campaign was attacking Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney's record as head of Bain Capital, for example, Clinton praised Romney's business record and said he was qualified to be president.
Also, though Obama does not want to extend the Bush tax cuts for the top tax bracket and believes an extension of the tax cuts can only happen in special session after the election, Clinton said last week that all of the Bush tax cuts should be extended before the election to help the economy. He later apologized for the remark, saying he did not understand that the tax cuts could be extended in a lame-duck session after the election and before the new Congress takes office.
In a June 5 blog post for The Weekly Standard, conservative Bill Kristol argued that Clinton is purposely undermining Obama because he wants him to lose. The two main reasons, Kristol wrote, is that it would leave Clinton as the only twice elected Democratic president since Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and because Obama often disses Clinton when he says that Americans have suffered over the last three decades. Also, Clinton's wife, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, would also have a chance to win the presidency in 2016 if Obama lost, though Kristol does not believe this is a primary reason that Clinton is undermining Obama.
But Huckabee disagreed with Kristol's theory, saying that the reason Clinton made statements undermining Obama is he "can't help his candor."
Clinton is "out of office. He's in a position where he's a senior statesman of the Democratic Party, but in many ways of America. And, when he's asked a question, he says what he honestly thinks. Now and then he gets in trouble with the Obama people because he said something that actually was very true and they don't like it because the truth is hurting him right now," Huckabee said.
Rendell believes that Clinton's candor will help the Obama campaign in the month before the election because it strengthens Clinton's credibility.
"By saying nice things about Governor Romney now," Rendell said, "which are true – Governor Romney is clearly qualified to be president – by saying those things, he's setting up his credibility with those undecided voters. Watch Bill Clinton in October."
When asked, Huckabee said he has not been contacted by the Romney campaign about becoming Romney's running mate.
"I think there is greater likelihood that I'll be asked by Madonna to go on tour as her bass player than I'll be picked to be on the ticket," Huckabee joked.