Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, whose stunning 2008 win in the GOP Iowa caucus catapulted him into the national spotlight, fared poorly in this year’s crowded field, placing ninth with less than 2%.
Huckabee’s poor performance was explained in large part by the presence of other, newer anti-establishment candidates who managed to capture the same wave of voter frustration which helped him to the top of the caucus in 2008 and edged Rick Santorum past Mitt Romney in Iowa in 2012. Texas Senator Ted Cruz, New York real estate mogul Donald Trump, and retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson all performed well in Iowa, depriving Huckabee of his base of potential supporters.
It’s hardly surprising, then, that Huckabee would align himself with one of his successors in the anti-establishment field after dropping out of the race on February 1. What is surprising, however, is his apparent support for the most unlikely outsider candidate – Donald Trump.
An ordained Baptist minister and one of the most visible leaders of America’s religious right who emphasizes his blue-collar background and has decried the business class within his own party, Huckabee seems to have little in common with a New York billionaire known for his well-publicized extra-marital affairs, support for legalized abortion prior to his presidential bid, and ambiguous comments on gay marriage.
While Huckabee has refused to issue a formal endorsement since dropping out of the race, the ties between him and Trump are clear. Even before Huckabee left the race, he joined Trump in a combination rally/fundraiser on the eve of the Iowa caucus held during a presidential debate Trump had refused to attend.
Following the end of his bid, Huckabee’s daughter and former campaign manager, Sarah, joined the Trump campaign.
On Monday Huckabee even appeared on television to defend Trump following the real estate mogul’s failure to disavow support from former Ku Klux Klan Grand Wizard David Duke.
“I don’t know of anything in his life that indicates that this man has racist tendencies,” he told MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough.
Huckabee took to Facebook on Saturday, rejecting rumors he had in fact endorsed Trump.
“Despite all the baseless conjecture in the media, I haven’t endorsed any candidate and have no plans to, anytime soon.”
Trump has hinted that he has secured promises for more endorsements to be formally announced later in the campaign.