The powerful and deep-pocketed conservative advocacy group Club for Growth wasted in no time in attacking Mike Huckabee, the latest entrant into the crowded GOP primary field. This morning prior to Huckabee’s event in Hope, the Club announced that it will be launching an attack ad against Huckabee in Iowa and South Carolina, two states that Huckabee will be targeting in the early going. You can watch the ad above.
Club for Growth president David McIntosh said, according to a report from USA Today, “Governor Huckabee raised taxes. He raised them a lot and he raised them often. Since he’s decided to run again, and is still not telling the whole story on his tax record, then we’ll do it for him.”
It’s kind of an odd commercial, basically focused on the fact that various conservative groups have been down on Huckabee as too much of a tax-and-spender. The kicker comes at the end: a “Ready for Hillary” poster with Huckabee’s name flying in. He’s just a RINO, see. Zing! Since Huckabee’s base are rank-and-file evangelical voters who probably don’t care that much what the Club for Growth thinks, I’m not sure how much this commercial, focused entirely on the pronouncements of gatekeepers, will hurt him. But it’s clearly an effort to signal to primary voters that he’s unacceptable to the party’s economic right wing.
This is a fight that the Club for Growth has been spoiling for, a rivalry stretching back more than a decade. Huckabee has called them “the Club for Greed” and compared them to suicide bombers and Ft. Hood shooter Nidal Hassan. McIntosh told National Review last week, “he’d be terrible on economic conservative issues, and we’ve got to educate the voters about that through our affiliated PAC.”
Huckabee’s speech today, with at least rhetorical focus on economic populism and very strong language around protecting Social Security and Medicare benefits (which would be slashed in the proposed budgets supported by the Club) probably helped throw some fuel onto the fire in this ongoing GOP civil war.