This presidential cycle has seen a series of odd endorsements, such as Pat Robertson’s support for Rudy Giuliani or Sam Brownback’s endorsement of John McCain. Today brought another, this one from conservative stalwart Duncan Hunter, who recently withdrew from the race. Hunter endorsed Mike Huckabee, who has taken considerable criticism from conservatives on immigration and fiscal policy:
California Rep. Duncan Hunter, a former presidential candidate, announced Wednesday he is endorsing Mike Huckabee’s White House bid.
“I got to know Governor Huckabee well on the campaign trail,” Huckabee said in a statement. “Of the remaining candidates I feel that he is strongly committed to strengthening national defense, constructing the border fence and meeting the challenge of China’s emergence as a military superpower that is taking large portions of America’s industrial base.
“Along with these issues of national security, border enforcement and protecting the U.S. industrial base, I see another quality of Mike Huckabee’s candidacy that compels my endorsement,” he added. “Mike Huckabee is a man of outstanding character and integrity. I saw that character over the last year of campaigning and was greatly impressed. The other Republican candidates have many strengths and I wish them all well.”
I don’t find this anywhere near as shocking as other Republicans, although I admit to being surprised when I first heard it. Hunter’s biggest issues in the race were immigration and trade, and he took a more protectionist tack on the latter. In that sense, Hunter’s instincts are closer to Huckabee than any of the other candidates, who tend towards the free-market policies that typify Republicans.
On immigration, Huckabee would seem to be the second-oddest partner for Hunter apart from John McCain. Huckabee has tried to put out a tough line on immigration with only moderate success in convincing the base. Obviously, Huckabee hopes this has to help, and it might, at least on immigration and border security issues. However, Huckabee’s populism won’t get a better reception just because Hunter endorsed him.
This isn’t the strangest endorsement of this cycle, but it is a little odd, and I wonder why Hunter didn’t take his gracious words to their logical conclusion and just skip choosing a single candidate altogether.