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Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee announces 2016 GOP presidential run

Huckabee, an ordained Baptist pastor and TV host, is making his second try for the White House

♦By Rich Shumate, Chickenfriedpolitics.com editor

arkansas mugHOPE, Arkansas (CFP) — Saying he wanted to take America “from hope to higher ground,” former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee kicked off his bid for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination with a speech to an enthusiastic crowd in his hometown May 5.

Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee

Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee

“I ask you to join with me today not just so I can be president, but so we can preserve this great republic,” Huckabee said during a speech at community college in Hope, a town of 11,000 in southwest Arkansas where former President Bill Clinton was also born. “With your help, and God’s, we will make that journey.”

In the opening speech of his second presidential campaign, Huckabee sounded a note of economic populism, saying “power and money and influence have left a lot of Americans lagging behind.”

“They work hard, lift heavy things and sweat through their clothes grinding out a living, but they can’t seem to get ahead or, in some cases, even stay even,” he said. “A record number people are enrolled in government-operated help programs like food stamps not because they want to be in poverty, but because they are part of the bottom earning 90 percent of American workers whose wages have been stagnant for 40 years.”

But Huckabee, an ordained Baptist pastor, also played to his natural base of religious conservatives on the issue of same-sex marriage, blasting federal courts for “criminalizing Christianity in demanding that we abandon biblical principles of natural marriage.”

“Many of our politicians have surrendered to the false god of judicial supremacy, which would allow black-robed and unelected judges the power to make law and enforce it,” he said. “The Supreme Court is not the supreme being, and they can’t overturn the laws of nature or of nature’s God.”

Huckabee said if elected, he would push for term limits on both Congress and the Supreme Court, whose justices now serve for life, and abolish the IRS. He also took a sharp shot at President Barack Obama’s diplomatic approach toward the Islamic world.

“When I hear the current president say he wants Christians to get off their high horse so we can make nice with radical jihadists, I wonder if he could watch a western from the 50s and be able to figure out who the good guys and the bad guys are,” he said. “As president, I promise you that we will no longer merely try to contain jihadism. We will conquer it.”

Huckabee, 59, served as Arkansas governor from 1996 to 2007 and ran for president in 2008. With strong support from social conservatives, he won the Iowa caucuses and took seven other primaries, mostly in the South, before conceding to the eventual nominee, U.S. Senator John McCain.

Huckabee’s 2016 run was widely anticipated after he bowed out of his long-running Saturday evening talk show on the Fox News Channel in January. Noting his own financial sacrifice in leaving Fox, he asked his supporters for donations, while taking a swipe at Hillary Clinton, Jeb Bush and his other GOP rivals who currently hold elected office.

“I don’t have a global foundation or a taxpayer-funded paycheck to live off of. I don’t come from a family dynasty but a working family. I grew up blue collar and not blue blood,” he said, adding that other presidential candidates who currently hold elective office should resign.

“If you live off the government payroll and want to run for an office other than the one you’re elected to, then have the integrity and decency to resign the one you don’t want and pursue the one you decided you’d rather have.”

Though Huckabee moved from Arkansas to Florida when he took the job Fox after his 2008 loss, he regaled his hometown audience with details of his bucolic childhood in Hope.

“I ran trotlines all night at Bois D’Arc Lake with my dad and grandfather to catch catfish that we’d freeze and live off of for weeks,” he said. “It was here I was baptized in the Garrett Memorial Baptist Church after accepting Jesus in a vacation bible school when I was 10 years old. I truly went from Hope to higher ground.”

Huckabee is not the first presidential candidate to use Hope as a prop. In his 1992 campaign, Clinton also played up his roots in Hope, despite the fact that he had moved to the resort town of Hot Springs, in central Arkansas, at age 4.

Huckabee is the fourth Southern Republican to announce a 2016 presidential campaign, joining U.S. Senators Ted Cruz of Texas, Rand Paul of Kentucky and Marco Rubio of Florida. Other Southerners expected to seek the GOP nomination include former governors Jeb Bush of Florida and Rick Perry of Texas; U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina; and Governor Bobby Jindal of Louisiana.

On the Democratic side, former U.S. Senator Jim Webb of Virginia has already launched an exploratory committee for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination — a race that’s expected to be dominated by former Secretary of State Clinton, a former first lady of Arkansas who went on to be elected to the Senate from New York.

Watch the video of Huckabee’s announcement speech:

U.S. Senator Rand Paul launches bid for 2016 GOP nomination

Kentucky senator and Tea Party favorite kicks off with anti-establishment pitch

♦By Rich Shumate, Chickenfriedpolitics.com editor

kentucky mugLOUISVILLE (CFP) — Vowing “to rescue a great country now adrift,” U.S. Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky kicked off his campaign for the 2016 GOP presidential nomination with a call for Republicans not to settle for a nominee who is a “Democrat light.”

U.S. Senator Rand Paul

U.S. Senator Rand Paul

“We cannot, we must not, dilute our message or give up on our principles,” Paul said at an April 7 kickoff rally at the Galt House Hotel in Louisville. “We need to go boldly forth under the banner of liberty that clutches the Constitution in one hand and the Bill of Rights in the other.”

The crowd at the rally hoisted signs with twin slogans capturing the outside, anti-establishment tenor of Paul’s campaign — “Defeat the Washington Machine” and “Unleash the American Dream.”

Paul, 52, an opthtamologist, was elected to the Senate in the Republican sweep of 2010 with support from Tea Party groups and the GOP’s libertarian wing. Playing to those libertarian voters, Paul said he would end government surveillance programs of phone and computer records that began during the Bush administration and were continued under President Obama.

“Warrantless searches of Americans’ phones and computer records are un-American and a threat to our civil liberties,” he said. “I say that your phone records are yours. I say the phone records of law-abiding citizens are none of their damn business.”

Paul also brought up his skepticism of U.S. intervention overseas — a position that has put him at sharp odds with the defense and foreign policy establishment within the Republican Party.

“I see an America strong enough to deter foreign aggression, yet wise enough to avoid unnecessary intervention,” he said. However, Paul also said American interests are under assault from “radical Islam.”

“Not only will I name the enemy, I will do whatever it takes to defend American from these haters of mankind.”

Paul also made a populist pitch for support on the issue of income inequality, saying “under the watch of both parties, the poor seem to get poorer and the right get richer.”

In addition to seeking the Republican presidential nomination, Paul is also simultaneously seeking re-election to his Senate seat in Kentucky.

Paul is now the second announced GOP presidential candidate, joining  U.S. Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, who announced his candidacy March 24. A third candidate, U.S. Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, is expected to announce next week.

The trio are among nine Southerners — eight Republicans and one Democrat — considering a White House bid in 2016.

Among the other potential Southern GOP candidates are former governors Jeb Bush of Florida, Mike Huckabee of Arkansas and Rick Perry of Texas; U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina; and Governor Bobby Jindal of Louisiana.

On the Democratic side, former U.S. Senator Jim Webb of Virginia has already launched an exploratory committee for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination — a race that’s expected to be dominated by former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, a former first lady of Arkansas.

View Paul’s announcement speech:

U.S. Senator Ted Cruz pulls trigger, enters 2016 presidential race

Texan kicks off campaign with a pitch aimed at Christian conservatives

♦By Rich Shumate, Chickenfriedpolitics.com editor

texas mugLYNCHBURG, Virginia (CFP) — U.S. Senator Ted Cruz of Texas has become the first candidate in either party to announce a run for the White House in 2016, with an exhortation to Christian conservatives to get involved in the political process and vote their “values.”

U.S. Senator Ted Cruz

U.S. Senator Ted Cruz

“What is the promise of America?” Cruz asked students at Liberty University, where he announced his campaign March 23. “The revolutionary idea that this country was founded upon, which is that our rights don’t come from man. They come from Almighty God. And that the purpose of the Constitution, as Thomas Jefferson put it, is to serve as chains to bind the mischief of government.”

Rather than announce his campaign in his home state of Texas, Cruz chose Liberty University, a 13,000-student school in Lynchburg, Virginia, founded by the late Rev. Jerry Falwell, a leader in the Christian conservative political movement who also founded the Moral Majority in 1979.

In his opening campaign salvo, Cruz, who wore a headset microphone and paced across the stage as he spoke, asked the crowd to “imagine millions of courageous conservatives, all across America, rising up together to say in unison, ‘We demand our liberty.'”

“Instead of a federal government that works to undermine our values, imagine a federal government that works to defend the sanctity of human life and to uphold the sacrament of marriage.”

And on the fifth anniversary of the signing of Obamacare into law, Cruz vowed as president to sign legislation “repealing every word” of the health care law.

Cruz, 44, a Harvard Law School graduate and one-time national debating champion, won his Senate seat in 2012 in an upset made possible by Tea Party support. In the Senate, he has been an occasional thorn in the side of GOP leaders and was among the Republicans who helped trigger a government shutdown in 2013 in a dispute with Democrats over repealing Obamacare.

Cruz is one of nine Southerners — eight Republicans and one Democrat — considering a White House bid in 2016.

Among the other potential Southern GOP candidates are former governors Jeb Bush of Florida, Mike Huckabee of Arkansas and Rick Perry of Texas; U.S. Senators Rand Paul of Kentucky, Marco Rubio of Florida, and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina; and Governor Bobby Jindal of Louisiana.

On the Democratic side, former U.S. Senator Jim Webb of Virginia has already launched an exploratory committee for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination — a race that’s expected to be dominated by former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, a former first lady of Arkansas.

View Cruz’s announcement speech:

Poll: South Carolinians don’t want U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham to run for president

Winthrop University survey finds little support for a Graham White House bid, even among Republicans

♦By Rich Shumate, Chickenfriedpolitics.com editor

south-carolina mugSPARTANBURG, South Carolina (CFP) — Most South Carolinians say they do not want their senior U.S. senator, Lindsey Graham, to seek the Republican presidential nomination in 2016, according a new poll.

U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham

U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham

A Winthrop University survey released March 4 found more than 60 percent of state residents opposed to Graham running for the White House, with just 28 percent saying they thought the senator’s candidacy was a good idea.

Among self-identified Republicans and those who lean Republican, 34 percent thought Graham should run, while 57 percent were opposed.

The poll of 1,109 residents of the Palmetto State had a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.

Graham, 59, elected to his third term in the Senate last November, launched a presidential exploratory committee in January, saying that was seriously considering running for president on a national security platform.

If he runs, he would be a favorite son in the key South Carolina primary, scheduled for February 2016, which is traditionally the first primary held in the South.

Graham is one of nine Southerners — eight Republicans and one Democrat — considering a White House bid in 2016.

Among the potential Southern GOP candidates are former governors Jeb Bush of Florida, Mike Huckabee of Arkansas and Rick Perry of Texas; U.S. Senators Rand Paul of Kentucky, Ted Cruz of Texas and Marco Rubio of Florida; and Governor Bobby Jindal of Louisiana.

On the Democratic side, former U.S. Senator Jim Webb of Virginia has already launched an exploratory committee for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination — a race that’s expected to be dominated by former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, a former first lady of Arkansas.

Former U.S. Senator Jim Webb opens presidential exploratory committee

Virginian is the first Democrat to make a move toward a nomination fight with Hillary Clinton

By Rich Shumate, Chickenfriedpolitics.com editor

virginia mugBURKE, Virginia (CFP) — Former U.S. Senator Jim Webb has launched an exploratory committee for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination — a race that’s expected to be dominated by former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Former U.S. Senator Jim Webb

Former U.S. Senator Jim Webb

“We desperately need to fix our country and to reinforce the values that have sustained us, many of which have fallen by the wayside in the nasty debates of the last several years,” Webb said in an open letter published on his committee’s website.

“I look forward to listening and talking with more people in the coming months as I decide whether or not to run.”

Webb is the first Southerner in either party to make a move toward a presidential bid. However, at least six Southern Republicans are considering running, including U.S. Senators Rand Paul of Kentucky, Ted Cruz of Texas and Marco Rubio of Florida; Governors Bobby Jindal of Louisiana and Rick Perry of Texas; and former Florida Governor Jeb Bush.

Webb, 68, served as a Marine combat officer in Vietnam and was navy secretary during the Reagan administration. In 2006, he ran for the U.S. Senate and rode that year’s Democratic wave to a victory incumbent GOP U.S. Senator George Allen, which gave Democrats control over the upper chamber.

However, he opted not to seek re-election in 2012 after serving a single term.

While Webb was considered a Democratic moderate in the Senate, his exploratory committee announcement hinted that he may be planning to run against Clinton as an economic populist, noting that “the disparities between those at the very top and the rest of our society have only grown larger since the economic crash of late 2008 and early 2009.”

Webb also acknowledged that he faces “what many commentators see as nearly impossible odds” in securing the Democratic nomination.

“We are starting with very little funding and no full-time staff, but I’ve been here before,” he said. “In February 2006, I announced for the Senate only nine months before the election against an entrenched incumbent. We had no money and no staff. We were more than 30 points behind in the polls.”

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