Former Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee said Texas Governor Rick Perry made a “tactical blunder” in deciding to announce his bid for the presidency on the same day as the Iowa caucus. Huckabee's criticism of Perry may be due to personal animosity stemming from the previous presidential campaign.
“The people of Iowa work very hard to make the straw poll the biggest political moment of the summer,” Huckabee said, “and if you have a candidate who says, ... 'I'm not going to be there, I'm going to be in South Carolina trying to pull as much attention as possible away from your big event,' I'll tell you, the people of Iowa ... don't take kindly to someone, in essence, dissing their big event.”
Huckabee hosts a show on Fox News, called “Huckabee,” which broadcast from Iowa on Saturday, the day of the straw poll. He used the opportunity to reiterate his point when he asked each guest on the show if Perry made a mistake by announcing the same day as Iowa's big event.
“Congressman, was it a mistake that Governor Perry decided to not show up here, but then to use this day for his announcement 1,200 miles away?,” Huckabee asked Iowa Congressman Steve King.
“In my opinion, yes, it doesn't mean he can't come to Iowa and work and earn the support of Iowans, but to pick that timing right into the center of the ceremonies here in the straw poll, it's clear that ... it was an intentional effort to try to step on the straw poll,” King said.
Huckabee was the governor of Arkansas, which shares a border with Texas, and, like Perry, was the longest serving governor in his state. Both Huckabee and Perry are also evangelical Christians with strong appeal to religious conservatives. Huckabee was a preacher and Christian radio personality before entering politics. Rick Perry hosted a prayer rally this month in Texas. Despite these similarities, there appears to be personal animosity between the two stemming from Huckabee's 2007 to 2008 race for the presidency.
Huckabee asked Perry to be his national chairman in 2007. Perry declined and, instead, chose to endorse former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, a surprising choice considering that Huckabee and Perry are both social conservatives and Giuliani is pro-choice and pro-gay marriage.
At the time of Perry's endorsement, however, Giuliani was leading in many polls and viewed by many as the likely nominee. Christian Right leader Pat Robertson also endorsed Giuliani in 2007. Giuliani's electability, rather than his ideology, was likely the more important factor for Perry at the time.
In 2007, according to Politico, Perry told a crowd in Iowa, “I love Mike. I mean, he’s like a brother. I just don’t think he can win and I shared that with him. And [Huckabee] asked me to be his national chairman about six months ago and I told him, I said, ‘Man, I love you like a brother, but just let me slide here.’ It was a hard conversation to call and tell him I was for Rudy. He was disappointed and a bit frustrated. I still love him and he loves me.”
Ironically, Giuliani's campaign ended up doing poorly as he failed to achieve any victories in early primary and caucus states. Huckabee, on the other hand, won the Iowa caucus and ended up with the second most electors behind Sen. John McCain.
As word spread last month that Perry might enter the race, Huckabee sent an email to his supporters saying, “For all his new found commitment to hyper-conservatism, he’ll get to explain why he supported pro-abortion, pro-same sex marriage Rudy Giuliani last time.”
Huckabee has not decided who he will endorse. Most likely, though, it will not be Rick Perry.