Mike Huckabee won the Iowa caucuses Thursday night with 34 percent (with 95 percent of precincts reporting) of the vote, handily defeating Mitt Romney, who came in second with 25 percent in spite of heavy stumping in the key Midwestern state.
Just what Republicans longing for a new Ronald Reagan needed: a religious‐right candidate who is also a big‐spending nanny statist.
Reporters have been quick to jump on Huckabee’s comments in a 1992 Associated Press questionnaire that seemed to confirm their suspicions about a Baptist minister for Arkansas. Huckabee told the AP that “homosexuality is an aberrant, unnatural and sinful lifestyle,” and called for isolating people with AIDS. That was a position, by the way, that the venerable Reagan had firmly rejected five years earlier. In 1997, then‐Arkansas Gov. Huckabee pushed for a reaffirmation of the state’s sodomy law, and in 1998 he compared homosexuality to necrophilia.
Huckabee says his rise in the polls can only be attributed to God’s will. He endorsed the Southern Baptist Convention’s declaration that “A wife is to submit herself graciously to the servant leadership of her husband.” He says he entered politics to “take this nation back for Christ.”
But Huckabee doesn’t just want a government that will stamp out sin. He wants a government that will worry about your body as much as your soul. He says that “it is government’s responsibility to try to create a culture of health,” including pressuring employers to “encourage” healthier lifestyles among their employees. He wants a federal ban on smoking in the workplace and other “public” places. He’s even threatened to ban cigarettes altogether.
After losing 110 pounds, he’s particularly concerned about the problem of obesity. He can’t quite figure out how to make eating Twinkies illegal, but he can at least be a national scold. As governor, he started screening all public school students for their “body mass index” and sending reports home to parents. He’s proposed requiring restaurants to publish the caloric and fat content of their food.
Huckabee’s determination to turn his own self‐improvement odyssey into a national crusade reminds me of a Jeff MacNelly cartoon of the Carter era, when evangelistic ex‐smoker Joseph Califano, Carter’s secretary of health, education and welfare, launched a national anti‐smoking campaign. MacNelly depicted Califano in Puritan garb, with the caption “And now, to discuss his decision to give up sex and what it means for you…”