Michael Dale Huckabee (born August 24, 1955) is an American politician, Christian minister, author, and commentator who served as the 44th governor of Arkansas from 1996 to 2007. He was a candidate in the United States Republican presidential primaries in both 2008 and 2016.
Dick Morris, who had previously worked for Bill Clinton, advised Huckabee on his races in 1993, 1994, and 1998. Huckabee commented that Morris was a "personal friend". A newspaper article reported on Huckabee's 1993 win: "Morris said the mistake Republicans always make is that they are too much of a country club set. What we wanted to do was run a progressive campaign that would appeal to all Arkansans.'"
Morris elaborated, "So we opened the campaign with ads that characterized Mike as more of a moderate whose values were the same as those of other Arkansans." Consequently, he abandoned his earlier support for the Council of Conservative Citizens (CofCC) when in April 1994 following an adverse media campaign against the CofCC, Huckabee withdrew from a speaking engagement before their national convention. He repeated the accusations made by various media and civil rights organizations such as the Southern Poverty Law Center recalling his past association with the CofCC saying, "I will not participate in any program that has racist overtones. I've spent a lifetime fighting [against] racism and anti-Semitism."
Huckabee's handling of clemency petitions received national attention in November 2009 with the case of Maurice Clemmons, who had committed burglary without a weapon at age 16. The Prison Transfer Board unanimously requested a sentence commutation for Clemmons as did the trial judge. Clemmons's 60-year sentence was commuted by Huckabee to 47 years, making him eligible for parole if approved by the parole board. After parole in 2000, Clemmons was arrested for multiple offenses including child molestation and aggravated assault but was released after prosecutors declined to file charges. After Clemmons murdered four police officers in Lakewood, Washington, a two-day manhunt ensued, and Clemmons was shot and killed by a Seattle Police Department officer after refusing police orders to stop.
In 2003, Eugene Fields received a six-year prison sentence after his fourth conviction of driving while intoxicated in five years. Huckabee granted clemency over the objections of the local prosecutor and sheriff, the Arkansas Prosecuting Attorneys Association and Mothers Against Drunk Driving. A spokeswoman for Huckabee, Charmaine Yoest, said that Fields's political donations [to the Arkansas Republican Party] and connections played no role in his clemency. About two years after Fields's sentence was cut to 11 months, he was arrested again for driving while intoxicated as his truck crossed the center line directly into the path of an oncoming police car.
Following the 2016 U.S. presidential election, Huckabee met with president-elect of the United States Donald Trump, whom he had supported for the Republican nomination after ending his own campaign in February. It was reported by The Daily Mail and The Jerusalem Post that Trump offered Huckabee the position of United States Ambassador to Israel. Huckabee denied the reports. He told Fox News that a possible cabinet appointment for himself was discussed but that he turned the offer down, saying, "I'm not sure it was the right fit."
In January 2018, Huckabee praised Doha, Qatar as being "surprisingly beautiful, modern, and hospitable" after a trip there, but did not reveal that a foreign agent for Qatar had paid $50,000 to a corporation run by Huckabee as a "honorarium for visit".
According to a CNN exit poll, Huckabee won 48% of African American votes in his successful 1998 gubernatorial race in Arkansas. The 48% figure is often disputed due to the exit poll's small sample size. Huckabee says that it is important for Republicans such as himself to reach out to black voters, and in 2015 he has ramped up efforts to win those votes.
In 2015, Huckabee stated on Meet the Press that the confederate flag issue was for South Carolinians to decide, "not an issue for a person running for president", and days later he congratulated Gov. Nikki Haley on her decision supporting removal of the flag from the state capitol. Huckabee gave a speech at the 2008 Republican National Convention that included this: "I say with sincerity that I have great respect for Senator Obama's historic achievement to become his party's nominee—not because of his color, but with indifference to it. Party or politics aside, we celebrate this milestone because it elevates our country."
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