Comparing John McCain and Mike Huckabee

After the results of this weekend (and a new poll showing Virginia to be more competitive – ), it is clearly apparent that many voters consider Mike Huckabee the “conservative” choice.  I find that surprising, but then again, I have to remember that not everyone in America is the political geek I am.

 Therefore, I figured a comparison of the two gentlemen would be a good idea, similar to my McCain-Bush comparison of Saturday.  Here we go.

Foreign Policy and the WBK War: The two candidates are nearly identical on the issues.  Both support the Afghanistan and Iraq theaters; and both believe Guantanamo should be shut down.  Huckabee has publicly stated his opinion that transiting the enemy combatants would not automatically give them habeas corpus rights, while McCain has not stated where he would house the enemy combatants.

What separates them is experience: McCain has it in spades, while Huckabee is so green he didn’t even know what the Iran National Intelligence Estimate was until the media told him about it.  On this issue, McCain has the edge.

Political speech: Yes, yes, McCain-Feingold, I understand that.  How many times has Huckabee promised to repeal it?  What was that?  Zero.  For that reason alone, I’d call this a wash.

Energy: McCain’s support for a cap-and-trade greenhouse policy certainly puts him to to the  left of every Republican who has run for President – except Huckabee, who also backs cap-and-trade (Bloomberg).  Another wash.

Gun rights:Again, McCain has voted against the “assault weapons ban” twice: 1994 and 2004.  The only difference between the two is the “gun-show loophole” issue, where McCain favors closing it and Huck doesn’t.  Still, it’s a difference, so Huck has the edge here.

Abortion (and embryonic stem cell research): On the broader issue, both men are terrific; but I’ll admit Huck is better on ESCR that McCain.  I would say the issue is rapidly becoming moot with the progress being made in other SCR research, but a difference is a difference.  Huck has the edge here, too.

Judges: This is the biggest social issue battlefield, and surprisingly, McCain is stronger here.  He seems to have a far better definition of a good justice (Roberts and Alito) than Huckabee (Lavenski Smith).

Crime and punishment: McCain, as a Senator, doesn’t have much to go on either way.  However, compared to Huckabee’s appalling history with granting clemency to hardened criminals, McCain comes off smelling like a rose.  McCain by a country mile.

Government Spending: This is a no-brainer. McCain has Tom Coburn’s upport, his oppositon to the disastrously huge Medicare Part D, and his crusade against earmarks.  Huckabee?  He supported Medicare Part D (Club for Growth), and even kept the door open for the Democrats’ SCHIP debalce (Wall Street Journal), a plan so onerous and costly it couldn’t even win the approval of voters in OregonMcCain is head and shoulders above Huck here.

Taxes: Yes, McCain opposed the Bush tax cuts of 2001 and 2003, but he has rightly concluded that to let them expire would be a de facto mammoth tax increase.  He also supports eliminating the Alternate Minimum Tax and cutting the corporate income tax.  Huckabee, meanwhile, has had a terrible history of tax hiking as Governor (he actually out tax-hiked Bill ClintonArkansas Leader).  Meanwhile, his “Fair Tax” would include a de facto entitlement to every single American – hardly the stuff of limited government.  McCain again.

 Trade: McCain’s record on free trade is one of the best.  Huck, by contrast, waxes on about “fair trade,” an economically ludicrous bottle of political snake oil.  Huck’s comments on Red China (which I couldn’t help but notice) are belied by his unabashed support for PNTR in 2000, while McCain was at least willing to support conditions that the Commies stop selling arms to terrorists.  McCain takes this issue, too.

Illegal Immigration: This issue comes down to this question: should we believe Huckabee now?  Or when he was governor?  I’ll be charitable and split the difference, which still gives Huck the edge.

In summation, Huckabee is better (we think) on immigration, while McCain is far, far superior on the economic issues and better on foreign policy.  Surprisingly (for some), the other social issues are a wash.  It depends on priorities, of course, but I would say McCain is far closer to what a right-winger would want from a President than Huckabee.

9 Responses to Comparing John McCain and Mike Huckabee

  1. Darel says:

    Allow me to make a vital correction… Neither Mike Hucakbee nor John McCain are true conservatives at all.. They are both Big gov GOP members…. McCain is more left leaning then Huckabee.

    Ron Paul is the only true conservative and I’m proud to vote for him…. No matter what McCain nor Huckabee will obtain my vote at all. Regardless if they one obtains the nominaiton. Neither understand our economic issues nor doe they understand the issues we face in Iraq or beyond.

  2. Call them as you see them. But, only apply the label Conservative where it fits, selectively and occasionally, to both of them – issue by issue by hour of the day.

  3. […] DJ McGuire compares John McCain to Mike Huckabee issue to issue.  The verdict?  McCain. February 11th, 2008 at 1:02 pm | Tags: John McCain, asides, election 2008, photography […]

  4. rightwingliberal says:


    Actually, I would agree on your main point. Neither is perfect, and neither would earn the C-word label as a noun.


    Huck leans left far more than McCain, and I’m guessing your support for Paul has more to do with his dovishness on the war than anything else.

  5. chukmaty says:

    Humbly I have to disagree with almost all counts made here.

    Huckabee has said he would consider looking into cap in trade and has by no means guaranteed it as being apart of future policy. He is by nature a conservationist and his record on the matter is pretty crystal conservative.

    He saw a potential SCHIP compromise as a possible way of slashing welfare to a fraction of what it is today in his typical make lemons into lemonade approach that worked so well with Democrats in Arkansas. Once you consider the surplus he left and the tax cuts resulting right after he left office largely thanks to his lobbying for them, Taxes were nearly the same after over a decade. This is Arkansas we are talking about, one of the lowest tax states in the country. To have such a massive improvment in services while having a better spending record as governor than Reagan did is truly awesome.

    The genius he ha in selling conservatism of an almost radical sort to liberals has got him in trouble. He talks so much about the children he helped with his policies that people naturally think he increased spending to a program to do it as with ARKids. Liberals did not realize that Huckabee was getting people off welfare en masse with this program. But unfortunately most conservatives do not get it either and have falsely labeled him a big government liberal.

    Huckabee is strongly against McCain Feingold and has recently made it a regular target considering McCain is now his only opponent. He does however support some sort of regulation in this area unless I am mistaken.

    As for life and guns, it is not just position. It is a willingness and a desire to lead on these issues and be capable of doing something about it. Huckabee is the most articulate and convincing on these issues and is head and shoulders above everyone else.

    Also, the prebate is not an entitlement. it is a prebate on taxes that will be paid, nothing else. It is supported by anti entitlement Neil Boortz for crying out loud. And is the flattest tax plan with any shot of replacing the current one. And again Huckabee i the only one who really has shown and ability to sell tax reform of any kind.

    As for Illegal Immigration, Huckabee’s state and any other state is incapable of unilaterally being tough on immigration without destroying its agricultural economy. This has to be dealt with at the federal level and Huckabee’s stand is directly impacted by the desk he is behind.

    On economics he actually made an anemic economy one of the fastest growing… seems like he is solid on this issue. Increasing the per capita income of a state by over 50% while keeping tax hikes less than half the national average aint half bad.

    And the CoG has interests other than the truth when it comes to Huck’s tax record.

    The only spot were Huckabee might be weaker is foreign policy… this makes McCain a good appointment for a Huckabee cabinet if anything.

  6. rightwingliberal says:

    C’mon, chuk, he openly supported cap-and-trade. Also, taxes were half a billion higher when he left Arkansas than when he came in.

    Don’t bother with dark hints about CFG either. I know full well about the contributions they got from Mr. Stephens, but they spent all of it on ads revealing Huck’s record. They didn’t keep a dime.

  7. […] Comparing John McCain and Mike Huckabee […]

  8. […] For us locals, the Huckster is just an Arkansan Emmett Hanger, but I’m curious to see what John McCain thinks of his rival bashing the best decision he ever made (his opposition to Medicare Part D). […]

  9. […] For us locals, the Huckster is just an Arkansan Emmett Hanger, but I’m curious to see what John McCain thinks of his rival bashing the best decision he ever made (his opposition to Medicare Part D). […]

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