It's over. We watched our noble Governor Huckabee through tears as he shared with all his faithful supporters that he had "fought the good fight, finished the race, and kept the faith." The race for the nomination is over, and while we wish so desperately that he had come in first, the Lord had a different plan for this election. Our sadness and disappointment is great, and I know that all our fellow Huckabee supporters are feeling the same way right now.
A lot of people are saying that Governor Huckabee should be proud of where he ended. He started out a very little-known candidate, became the national front-runner and ended second only to the nominee...and all this with a staff of about 30 people and a smaller budget than most people realize. To put it in perspective, Barack Obama raised close to 50 million dollars last month alone. Mike Huckabee has spent around 9 million in the entire 14 months of his campaign, and he didn't borrow a cent of it.
While it's true that we have a reason to be proud of where Gov. Huckabee finished, I think we have an even greater reason to be proud of how he ran the race. Mike Huckabee is a politician like no other. We were talking to the chairman of our local GOP last week, and he told us that he was really glad that our family had become so involved in the Huckabee campaign, because, he said, "You'll never see another one like it." I thought about his words, and have realized more and more how true they were. Mike Huckabee is so different than our other politicians. He gave us something to be excited about, something to hope for. He blessed us with his humility and grateful spirit. He inspired us with his vision, encouraged us with his tenacity, and kept us laughing with his humor. He thrilled us with his passionate defence of moral principles and godly character. He won and kept our trust with his honesty, his sincerity, and his commitment to heartfelt and unchanging convictions and principles.
There are so many things I could write about Mike Huckabee. He has taught me so very many great lessons. Following are just a few of these invaluable truths:
-Message matters more than money.
In early 2007, I remember keeping up with the presidential polls with my brother. Rudy Giuliani and John McCain were at the top, of course, with other candidates trailing them by double digits. Mike Huckabee was always at the very bottom, and his name was followed by "*" or "-"...less than 1%. I also remember reading in the WORLD Magazine around the same time that in order for a candidate to stay in the race for 2008, he would have to raise at least $50,000 a day. Gov. Huckabee was not raising close to that much, and I truly didn't think he had a chance.
But it all changed...simply because Gov. Huckabee had a message that he was passionate about, a message that conservatives were hungry for, and a message that didn't change from one state to another. Each time he gave a speech, spoke at a debate, visited with supporters, or did an interview with the media, he did so without a shred of notes - no script, no teleprompter. Why? Because he had the same message, kept the same values, and stuck with what he believed, no matter what. He wasn't just repeating or quoting something abstract or inspirational...he was sharing his heart. He was defending and supporting issues that meant something to him and that were very personal to him. I used to think that a candidate had to have incredible amounts of money to run a campaign. Mike Huckabee has taught me that the message is really what matters.
-Don't vote unless you can vote FOR something.
There are a lot of people who vote for a candidate, not because they really like him, but because he's better than the alternative - the "lesser-of-two-evils" idea. Gov. Huckabee has taught me to never settle for status quo and to never vote for a candidate unless there are reasons I can vote FOR him.
-It is possible to run a positive campaign.
Gov. Huckabee has taught me a lot about vertical politics vs. horizontal politics. In a time of intense divisions and anger between the political parties, he stood up to say that we should be working together instead of against each other, working to take our country up, and not down. As Governor of Arkansas, he learned to work civilly with the Democrats, treating them with respect and dignity. If Mike Huckabee had been the Republican nominee, I think we would have had the most civil general election our country has ever seen.
When an opponent ran negative ads against him, Gov. Huckabee almost gave in to his staff's pleadings to counter-attack with the truth in a negative ad of his own, but at the last minute he pulled it. His action set a standard for the rest of the candidates, and no one else stooped to running negative ads for the duration of the campaign. As Gov. Huckabee so often said, a candidate should have more to say about why he should be President than why the others should not be President. That's vertical politics!
-It is possible to run a national campaign and not compromise Christian principles.
As a believer in Christ and a man with very strong spiritual convictions, Mike Huckabee came under a lot of fire. When the media talked about him, almost invariably someone would say, "the former Baptist minister" with a mixture of condescension and scorn. Pundits, politicians and reporters alike opined that this was a negative thing and often asked him questions, trying to catch him saying something that they could use to paint him as an intolerant, religious fanatic. While they refused to ask Mitt Romney questions about his religion, the press repeatedly asked Gov. Huckabee questions about his faith. Time after time he answered the questions with wisdom and tact and, if anything, these attacks helped him, as Americans realized that he wouldn't compromise his convictions for political correctness. Gov. Huckabee isn't afraid to quote Scripture in his speeches, to talk candidly about his faith, to attribute his success in the CNN YouTube debate to meditation on Scripture, or to believe in Creation. And he's shown me that it's possible for a national candidate to do these things without committing political suicide.
-Grassroots supporters are the most effective network.
Both Gov. Huckabee and Ron Paul had huge grassroots teams that propelled their candidacy to greater levels than anyone would have thought possible. Staff and organization are helpful, but with a limited budget, Gov. Huckabee couldn't invest in many staffers. Instead, he relied upon an army of volunteers -- conservative Republicans, homeschoolers, fair-taxers, small business owners, bloggers, pastors, college students, and every-day people who believed in his message and were willing to share it with others. With tools like Huck's Army and Meetup, his supporters were able to team with other supporters and work together to accomplish great things. Gov. Huckabee involved his supporters with his campaign in a very personal way, calling on us to send hundreds of emails, raise funds, make thousands of phone calls, and most importantly, talk to the people we meet every day. Instead of coming out of this campaign feeling discouraged, I feel very optimistic about the future. If we could get this far, we can do it again, not just nationally, but in our states and counties. And while there are many different ways of getting votes, we've discovered that the most effective way is simply to open your mouth and talk to your friends, relatives, and neighbors. There weren't a lot of signs, TV ads, or rallies in our county, but it went to Huckabee 2 to 1 over McCain because of locals who talked to locals.
I will never again look at politics the same because of these lessons learned from our humble leader. He has given us a taste of excellence that we'll never forget. He has given us courage to stand up, to get involved, and to make a difference. Since we first got involved with the campaign in September, we have had so many wonderful experiences. We've learned a lot about the political process. We've done more than we've ever done for a candidate before. And we wouldn't trade it for anything! It's been more than an opportunity -- it's been a complete honor to support and stand behind and work for such a incredible man. Thank you, Governor Huckabee!!!!!!!!!!! We are so proud of you. May the Lord bless you!
Gov. Huckabee's life has often reminded me of the life of Ronald Reagan. This election cycle gives us just one more similarity. Ronald Reagan lost the nomination in 1976 to Gerald Ford. He came back to win in 1980. Texas lost the battle at the Alamo, but they came back to win the battle of San Jacinto! In 4 years, Mike Huckabee will be able to enter the election as a nationally known political figure. He'll already have an army of faithful supporters who have been raising funds for 4 years and who are ready to get out on the front lines once more. Save your signs, your shirts, your buttons and your bumper stickers. You'll need them again.