Top of the Ticket

Political commentary from Andrew Malcolm

« Previous Post | Top of the Ticket Home | Next Post »

John McCain's 'grilling' sparks a Mike Huckabee response

Lacking a Caribbean speech on his schedule, Mike Huckabee keeps plugging away. But in his latest efforts to remind voters, and John McCain, that his quixotic quest for the Republican presidential nomination remains ongoing, he may have finally overplayed his hand.

McCain, in a sure sign he's not losing any sleep over Huckabee, took the weekend off. Along with relaxing, he spent part of Sunday at his retreat in Sedona, Ariz., barbecuing ribs and chicken for a gaggle of reporters, some aides, friends and family.

That got Huckabee's goat. At a news conference today (yes, he's still having them), the former Arkansas governor had this to say: "I think his time would have been better spent at a debate and I think the people of Texas should take that into consideration when they vote" in the state's Tuesday primary. "They ought to think about, you know, what would be a better use of his time, being in Texas having a debate on issues that affect Texans or serving barbecue to the media?"

It strikes us that a barb directed at barbecuing may not be the best way to curry favor with many in the Lone Star State.

Huckabee also indicated today that ...

a staff shakeup is near.

Appearing on CNN's "American Morning," he was asked about his less-than-stellar exhibition of faux cattle roping late last week during a campaign stop in Texas -- video of which showed up on several local newscasts across the country. Said Huckabee: "I think there will be one fewer staff member on the plane today for having suggested that we try this roping thing in front of television cameras and 1,000 people."

Here's the video (note that the crowd doesn't seem quite as huge as he indicated).

On a more serious note, the Washington Times peers into the future and reports today that many see Huckabee "poised to claim political leadership of conservative evangelicals."

According to the story, his "inner circle" touts him as "the perfect bridge to re-establish the Christian right, which has suffered over the last decade, as a political force that speaks for millions of voters."

Others have speculated that Huckabee will end up with his own show on Fox News. Perhaps he'll combine the two -- seeking to rekindle the political fire among evangelicals from a perch on cable television.

-- Don Frederick

Comments () | Archives (34)

The comments to this entry are closed.

Shame on John McCain. He doesn't deserve to be president. The majority of red states have been either won by Mike Huckabee or very very slim margins. Now that it is practically a two man race, and Huckabee came to the side of McCain when being attacked by Mitt Romney; the least McCain could do for Republican voters who have not had a chance to vote is give them one more opportunity to see these two candidates show their differences in a debate. To decline a debate because it would not fit his schedule and then to take a break from campaigning is arrogant and shows that McCain is not a gentleman, he is only an opportunist with great ambition to be president - totally selfish and we will pay for it... he is not consistent, except in crossing party lines to give in to the liberals. Wake up Texas, Ohio and the rest... vote for Mike Huckabee

Huckabee is far and away the best candidate for our nation.

Wow, this story seems a little biased.

Huckabee's comment about McCain's choice of BBQ over debate wasn't directed at BBQ... in another article I just read, Huckabee said at the same time that he himself makes mean BBQ ribs (my paraphrase). His point was, McCain chose a "social engagement" over discussing the issues for the benefit of Texas voters.

Seriously, I'm sure McCain doesn't want to shake things up. He's up in the polls, so he doesn't want to have a debate with Huckabee (who has great oratory skills, no matter whether you agree with his policies) and risk losing any support. I see his point, but I think a debate would show more respect for the views of the voters.

Texan Republicans, if McCain has already won the nomination, then frankly, your vote for him tomorrow isn't needed and doesn't change a thing. But those of you who aren't satisfied with McCain could make a difference if you vote for Huckabee.

Huckabee, the 10 year governor of Arkansas, has executive experience. McCain doesn't. (Neither does Clinton or Obama.)

Huckabee has emergency relief experience (post-Katrina), oratory skills that could match a youthful, enthusiastic Obama, and a stronger conservative record than McCain.

If you're voting in Texas, don't let others make up your mind for you. Visit and learn what Mike Huckabee really stands for. See the support he has from across the country. And then go out and vote and MAKE A DIFFERENCE.

Huckabee won't get to 1191 delegates before the convention- but if he can keep McCain from getting 1191 PLEDGED delegates (he has 874, last I heard), then the nominee can be decided at the convention.

Vote for Huckabee tomorrow!

first of all, show some respect. you speak of Mike Huckabee
in a rude fashion. second, yes he is still having press conferences because here in America we don't call things based on polls or media opinions. The election rules are pretty clear, until a candidate has 1,191 delegates there is no winner. Huckabee has every right to keep running and hold press conferences.
Finally, it is clear that you haven't been paying attention. Fox news has been terrible to Huckabee, they would not offer him a show and he would never accept because he does not stand for what Fox News stands for. Fox's plastic candidate, Mitt Romney, left the race awhile ago. Perhaps you should look for his show soon, after all he owns most of the stations.

Huckabee is still in the race because he feels inferior to Mitt Romney. He's not running against McCain- he's running against Romney (still).

He wants to get more delegates than Romney to "claim" that he's second place. It really doesn't matter because neither Romney nor Huckabee will be McCain's choice for VP.

I don't trust Huckabee. He doesn't have answers just idealistic platitudes.

Having such problems with other candidates "wasting" their time; maybe he should be the one to put his time to better use. For someone who touts his studies of religion and being an evangelical pastor... He should know his stance on religous topics a bit better. When asked his position/view on Homosexuality as a Choice or Genetics? Mike Huckabee replied," I don't honsetly know. But the point is people are who they want to be, and we should respect them for that..." Source: Meet the Press on 01/28/2008
When God created man he first made Adam and than Eve, not Adam and Steve. God speaks vehemently against homosexuality in the Bible. (see story of Sodom and Gomorrah in Genesis 18:22-19:29) Therefore God would not have created humans who are genetically homosexual. For someone who is a pastor that should not be something he just honestly doesn't know about.

Does Huck think McCain isn't suppose to take time out to eat? or is he just ticked because he wasn't invited to the Bar-b-que?

Excerpt from Larry Miller article:

If you could yell “Cut!” on life and speak to Mike Huckabee honestly, and he spoke honestly in return — both, I realize, low probability items — But if you could, and asked him why he was still running, and he answered from the heart, he would say…

“It’s a great way to fill the day. Without it, I’d have nothing to do. With it, the days are jammed with things that look important. They’re not, but they look that way, and that’s good enough for me. See, when I get up in the morning now, I come downstairs at whatever Four Seasons I’m staying in for free or on ‘The Campaign’ or paid for by the loans everyone knows I’ll never pay back, and when I get downstairs there are twenty or thirty reporters waiting for me. Someone on my staff hands me a cup of coffee, just the way I like it, and a bowl of melon balls — I miss the donuts, but you know all about that — and they ask me questions and I get to use hunks from my speech or let my fancy wander about Iran, and the economy, and life in general, and no one interrupts, and they write down what I say. Then, I’m whisked away in a Town Car with ten Suburban’s behind us to a junior high or a factory or a bridge club and everyone there fawns over me and smiles, and I say a lot of things again, and they don’t interrupt me, either. Then, more often than not, people come up to me with moist eyes and thank me for what I’m doing, or say they agree, or just yak. I usually can’t tell, really, because there’s just so much you can listen to people without tuning out, but who cares? Then there’s lunch, and the owner and the chef and the waitress all take a picture with me and insist there’s no way I can pay, and we drive off to another event. I hate passing the fried chicken places, ’cause I can’t have that anymore, either. Anyway, wherever we go people listen to me and applaud. The rest of the day is like that, and my staff and I will usually gather in my suite after dinner for some Yahtzee. And the next day is the same. So it’s all great.

(Seattle Times)

“See, without that I’d have nothing to do. If I leave the campaign, there’ll be no one waiting for me downstairs to ask questions. In fact, there’ll be no fancy hotels. No speeches, no photographs, no meetings, no teary-eyed hugs, nothing. I’ll have to go home and sit around there with my wife, and she’s sure as hell not going to bring me any coffee. She’s not going to listen to me go on and on about this and that, she’s heard it all before, plenty of times, more than she can stand. If I even comment on an item in the paper, she doesn’t even look up from her needlepoint, but just raises one hand and opens and closes it in the ‘Yeah, yeah, blah, blah’ gesture we all know and keeps doing it till I stop speaking. Then I probably have to pick things up from the cleaners or something. Then I spend a half hour or so making faces in the mirror. Then I pretend to be aiming at people walking by on the sidewalk outside. You know. Stuff like that.

“And you want me to go back to that faster than I need to just because I have no chance of winning? Are you out of your mind? The only thing I care about is that for another few weeks I get to strut around and pretend I actually have something to do in the world. What the hell do you think Romney is doing now, counting his money? Posing with those kids? I’ll bet that wife of his isn’t smiling so much anymore. They’ve been married two hundred years or something, so she’s way past smiling, believe me.

“Anyway, this honesty session is over. I’m running for president, and you can’t stop me. I’ve got three or four places to go today, and then we’re flying to Indiana tomorrow, or New Mexico. Hell, I don’t know, who cares? All I know is, it’s another day I won’t be sitting in my den drumming my fingers on some stupid table my wife got.”

Look for Mike Huckabee up in a booth on TV in a few months after he’s finally called it quits on the campaign. CNN or Fox if he can swing it, but he’ll take MSNBC or C-Span. Then maybe his own show, if he has enough juice.

There’s always the Food Channel.

The Republican Party that was established to abolish slavery has become a political spiders nest just like the Democratic Party, with politicians from both sides pandering to anyone who can keep them in power. Mike Huckabee, is the only one with the guts to buck the system, and overhaul our Tax system, stop illegal immigration so those of us paying taxes, don't have to keep supporting those who rudely cut in line. He represents the ordinary hard working people. And we the people want an election, not a coronation on who Washington with their paid for Media has decided we want in both parties. As a Republican I will not vote for John McCain without Huckabee on the Ticket.

McCain is a crazed NEOCON who wants endless war, and an empire (troops overseas for a hundred years) that we simply don't need and can not afford.

Huckabee is a cross between Gomer Pyle and Elmer Gantry, loves big government, and wants to be very compasionate with YOUR money.

the ONLY conservative among the Republicans the Costitutionalist, small gov't states' righter RON PAUL.

Mike Huckabee is a great candidate. I really don't think that Texans, even if they love barbecue, are going to have any big issue with Huckabee's statement about McCain and the barbecue he threw for media members. That's just not reasonable.

McCain is smart for not debating. Huckabee would slaughter him!

What a bunch of cry babies Huckabee supporters are, I was a Fred Thompson supporter and I am glad McCain is beating out Huckabee. We need a real POTUS, not a whining preacher for POTUS. GO MCCAIN..

Mr. Frederick: Keep your sarcasm to yourself. We're not interested in your little snide remarks. Just one of the reasons many of us have a problem with the media. Give your opinion, but try to be an adult while you do it. We're not on the playground. Grow up.

McCain doesn't mirror the convictions of me or my family. I would have liked to see him debate Huckabee today rather than feed the media BBQ.
I'll vote for Huckabee because it's the right thing to do. McCain needs to clean up his mess with the FEC and stop skirting the gray areas of law.

This is a terrible article. Who writes this drivel?!?! A quip about one staff member fewer is eluding to a "shakeup"???
Huckabee had reason to be upset about the BBQ? He was supposed to have a debate with McCain, but it was cancelled. When Huck challenged McCain, Jimmy said he was too busy!!!! Huh??? Not the kind of leader I'm lookin' for!

Do I hint a sarcastic tone LA TImes? Anyway, when Huckabee asked John McCain to do a debate that was originally scheduled, John McCain replied, "I'm too busy for a debate." WOW Yeah, John's too busy filpin' ribs for the elite establishment rather than talking about issues that regular Americans want to know about. This implies that when McCain is in office, he will be too busy pleasing the elite and lobbyists rather than the people of the USA. Texas, please vote your heart, and not who D.C tells you to vote for.

Mike Huckabee was setup..he could have won if all the candidates that are now out would have dropped out before South Carolina and Fla , they only stayed in the race until they where sure McCain was number one!! Its a republican thing you see!! Huckabee would have been better than them all.

The only person Huckabee is running aginst is Mitt Romney. Still trying to surpass Romney's delegate total even though Romneys been out of the race for some time. I've always lived in the south and have been a Baptist since way way back but Huckabee looks like a clown to me and is getting more clownish all the time.

He's known as the most honest and ethical member of Congress.

He's the only one shedding light on the implications of this fiat currency and the absence of gold/silver backing. As a member of the House Committee on Financial Services and former member of the House Banking Committee, he has said, "A perfect storm is facing America, caused by a federal government that spends, borrows and prints so much money that our dollars are eroding in value at an alarming rate."

These are a couple reasons that former Treasury Secretary William Simon commented that he is the "one exception to the Gang of 535" on Capitol Hill. He's the only candidate who does not take money from lobbyists, PACs or special interests. Lobbyists do not bother visiting him because he never supports any bill that gives handouts to their bosses, no matter who they are.

He's repeatedly voted against raiding Social Security funds and introduced a bill to stop Congress from borrowing from Social Security to pay for unbalanced budgets. He's opposed to the taxation of Social Security benefits as well. It is said that he introduces more substantive legislation each year than any other member of Congress. Of all the candidates, only he has an extensive legislative record opposing the monetary policy that led to the current sub-prime mortgage crisis.

He has never voted to raise taxes, for an unbalanced budget, to raise congressional pay, or to increase the power of the executive branch. He has never taken a government-paid junket, does not participate in the lucrative congressional pension program, and he returns a portion of his annual congressional office budget to the U.S. Treasury every year! Ron Paul.....

Do you all realize that there were some 29,997 people who requested that McCain debate Huckabee tonight? There was a petition online (over 12,000) and on Mike Huckabee's website there were over 17,000 people who also requested, politely, that McCain accept the invitation Mike so graciously offered! Those people, including me, wanted to see a debate minus all the bickering and arguing that took place at the debate in California. Some of you might call it "whining" but Mike Huckabee has not deserved all the garbage that he's recieved from the media. He has been a gentleman throughout and doesn't deserve all the negativism. A debate would have given those still undecided, a chance to see the remaining candidates differences in their plans and ideas for our country. Mike Huckabee is respected by many in government and loved by millions. I'm praying Texans come through tomorrow for Mike and knocks the socks off of every pundit out there! GO MIKE GO!!

Texans: Don't be ramrodded into voting for McCain tomorrow! Mike Huckabee is the real deal and won't let you down! He's not tied to all the elites in Washington and has a brilliant record as governor of Arkansas to prove it! He might be a little bit "country" but he certainly stands for the principles and values that so many of us crave! He has been a breath of fresh air in this campaign, showing us that we can take ourselves a little too seriously at times; yet he has so many great ideas (FAIR TAX) that really make sense! Over 30,000 people requested that McCain debate Huckabee tonight..McCain refused and instead held a bbq at his place for the elites of the party. He said he was too busy. 99.9% of those people stated that if McCain refused, they would remember him if he ever needed them again.......TEXANS: Vote Huckabee tomorrow and let's deny ole McCain those delegates..let's take this show to the convention!!!

Mike Huckabee had been asking McCain for a debate for weeks. McCain finally said Huckabee had not directly asked for the debate. Huckabee sent him a formal ivitation for the debate. McCain responded that he was too busy campaigning to debate Huckabee. Then, the next day, he retreated to his ranch with his GOP cronnies and had a party weekend that culminated with the Sunday 'BBQ for the press. Huckabee was just stating what the people had said. We are very upset that Senator McCain is not concerned enough about capturing his own party to debate Huckabee. How can he possible expect to be competitive with the Democrats!!! I will not vote for any ticket that does not have Mike Huckabee on it. I will write my candidate in if necessary (I haven't given up on him getting the nomination yet).

There is a great difference between Sen McCain and Gov Huckabee. Sen McCain has a temperment problem and Gov Huckabee seems much cooler in his flesh. That's the reason Sen Obama is so widely touted by the press, he's cool.

Sen Huckabee is the only one left standing with Executive Experience .... 10 years... with an opposite party legislature to work with. No that's essential experience for the President of the US.

If Sen McCain wins the nomination of his party then I think it will be easy to bait him in the debates and either Sen Clinton (with great back-up from her President husband) or Sen Obama (with great back up from his wife) will be able to draw out his knowledge and make him look frustrated and old. He will lose. Gov Huckabee is more knowledgeable, smarter, and more articulate even cool on the issues. He will be harder to trip up..... and no-one will beat him on the Leno/Letterman circuit on the electric guitar.

where do skills like roasting and feasting on roadkill or handling ropes and nooses come in when it comes to leading a nation of responsible, free, thinking people?
why don't both mccain and huckabee take off some time to study the constitution, not looking for ways to subvert and pervert it, but for ways to implement and honor its wise guidelines?

I disagree with the comments bashing this article. I don't find this article biased enough! I tend to agree with the Larry Miller article, hypothesizing what Huckabee might say if honestly describing why he's still in this campaign. I thought the tid-bit (no pun intended) about BBQ was witty and poignant. McCain is far ahead in the polls, and is just shy of claiming the Republican nomination. Huckabee should have dropped out weeks ago. Tomorrow might be his last day of riding from the 4 seasons in a town car to a fancy bridge club.

Lets face it. To be a republican running for the White House in this election is political suicide. McCaine knows this is his last shot he has at the presidency and probably the only reason he's running. At least Huckabee is in it and is staying in it for reasons of character and true concern for the US. He's got my vote. When the curtains on the polling booths close, let's hope we vote our conscience.

BBQ and steer roping for Texas. Why not throw in a dove hunt followed by some bass fishing and Nascar. The rest of the world is gobsmacked. Hilarious The American celebration of ingnorance. I'm lovin' it should be one of their sound bytes too.

Being a proud Arkansan, I have watched Sen. Huckabee for a very long time. He has been true to his word, a great leader, and above all, a trustworthy Christian man with nothing but the greatest of intention. If any one watches the Colbert Report, Huckabee was recently on saying that he thought he would do good in Texas because he knows good BBQ! I pray that we are blessed with Sen. Huckabee in office serving this country. Between himself and the Lord, I think we'll have it made!

Good grief. I believe if it weren't for the media (in all formats) we might actually have a legitimate, fair and real democratic election. How is our media so different from 3rd world, communist countries when all they report is one angle and more opinion than fact?! I live in a state whose primary is not until May - if Mike Huckabee's name is not on the ballot - I will have ONE choice to vote for...doesn't that sound ALOT like a communist country?! (and I WON'T vote...why should I) Sure I "get" to vote but I only have ONE choice for my convenient. I believe the media has played a big role in how this election turned out...and I predict will play a big role in how it turns out in November. The media pushed the story that Mike H. was out of Florida, which in fact he was not which affected voters. The media has hosted the debates in such a ridiculous fashion giving undue attention to "story giants" and not all the candidates on all the issues. What kind of debate asks the question, "What's your plan for healthcare in America?...and by the way you have 30 seconds to answer." It's so ridiculous. Obama and his 'voter fervour" is the "hot" story now and that's ALL we hear about. If I may be so bold, may I make a suggestion to all media types....If you're going to cover politics, how about taking a political science course in college? Just so you know how the system what a BROKERED convention is and how underdog, don't have a chance candidates have won in the past? I had to look up this info myself because the media has conveniently chosen not to go that angle....maybe because they don't even know about it!?


There is a better choice for Christians who want fair taxes, honest government, and who care about life....

I honestly don't understand all the fuss about a debate! If you watched the previous debates it seemed that McCain and Huck agreed on pretty much everything...including beating up on Romney.
I think the debate issue was a way for Huck to draw attention and nothing more than that. I don't like McCain but I think that Huckabee is a joke. This Texan intends to vote for Romney (my conscience) in the primary and McCain in the general as long as Huck is nowhere near that ticket!

CKing---I agree with you whole-heartedly. The only thing I might add is what a shame that it took so much money to get to this choiceless option. If the party heads and media already were pushing for this outcome, then why raise millions of dollars for the candidates (I read somewhere that Guliliani spent milliions with not one delegate to his count) and millions to hold pseudo elections and caucuses (where the popular vote totals and delegate totals don't add up). Remember in the end it's all about money. Those with the money (to spend on big MEDIA campaigns) got the media's attention. That is why Mike Huckabee has been left out. While Guiliani and Romney were pouring money into the media, they were the darlings. When it ended they couldn't jump on the McCain bandwagon fast enough. Clinton and Obama have had tons of money from the start and so will continue to garner the lion's share of attention.

*** Republican Presidential candidate John McCain claims on the campaign trail that Jack Abramoff and "his lobbyist cronies" have felt the impact of his efforts to combat the lobbying industry. But campaign finance filings show that McCain accepted more than $100,000 from employees of Abramoff's old firm, Greenberg Traurig. McCain also accepted more than $400,000 from lobbying firms and 59 of his "bundlers" are lobbyists.


Recommended on Facebook


In Case You Missed It...

About the Columnist
A veteran foreign and national correspondent, Andrew Malcolm has served on the L.A. Times Editorial Board and was a Pulitzer finalist in 2004. He is the author of 10 nonfiction books and father of four. Read more.
President Obama
Republican Politics
Democratic Politics



Get Alerts on Your Mobile Phone

Sign me up for the following lists: