MIKE PENCERECLAIMING THE REPUBLICAN PARTY ANDTHE AMERICAN DREAMbyT
Laura J. Gardner | The Journal Gazette
Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee shares a laugh with Sandra Herman at the Allen County Republican Party Bean Dinner on Wednesday evening.
FORT WAYNE – and possibly future – Republican presidential candidate believes two prominent Hoosiers would make viable candidates to be the country’s chief executive.
Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee said Gov. Mitch Daniels and Rep. Mike Pence would be qualified to lead the country as the next president. The Fox News host was in Fort Wayne on Wednesday as the keynote speaker at the Allen County Republican Party Bean Dinner fundraiser.
“Mitch Daniels has done I think an exemplary job as a leader, manager and governor of the state,” Huckabee said in an interview before the dinner. “I tend to think governors make good presidents because they’ve actually managed a microcosm of the federal government.
“On the other hand, Mike Pence is one of my favorite members of Congress, one of my heroes, and I love the guy. I think he is the most articulate, conviction-based and principled member of Congress. If we had 434 like him in the House, there wouldn’t be an uprising among the voters right now.”
Huckabee, Daniels and Pence have all been rumored as possible GOP candidates for president in 2012. Huckabee has not committed to seeking the post but said he would be happy to see Daniels and Pence run.
Huckabee sent a fundraising letter this summer criticizing Daniels for calling for a truce on social issues so government could focus on the economy. Pence topped Huckabee in the Family Research Council’s Values Voter straw poll last month – Daniels finished ninth.
“I would be delighted if either or both of them get in it because I think it just raises the level of the debate to solid conservative, responsible fiscal management,” Huckabee said of Daniels and Pence.
Huckabee said the race will be hotly contested, guessing 20 people would start out seeking the party nomination, which likely will be reduced to about eight by January 2012.
But he added that election is still far off, and the focus for voters should be on the upcoming congressional races and not speculation for president.
“The only thing that matters right now is making sweeping changes in the Congress this year in the midterms. That is going to do more to save our great republic than anything that happens two years from now,” he said.
Huckabee believes it will be a banner year for Republicans. While Democrats are trying to hit at potential divisions between tea party activists and conventional Republicans, Huckabee said voters don’t care about that. Instead they are fed up with a federal government that has overreached. He believes voters will correct that on Election Day and Republicans will retake the House and have a “real shot” at taking the Senate and a majority of the governors.
“It’s because the intensity of the Republican voter is just on fire,” he said. “I’ve never seen anything like it.”
Huckabee spoke to the crowd of about 600 for about 35 minutes at Ceruti’s Summit Park.