GOP presidential candidate Mike Huckabee endorsed Colorado’s “egg as a person” state ballot measure on Monday, but for whose benefit — Zygote Americans or his own dwindling political fortunes?Huckabee made the announcement after spending time in Colorado Springs last weekend wooing religious conservative voters between a paid speaking gig at a Leadership Program of the Rockies event and a private chat with his old buddy, Rev. James Dobson, head of Focus on the Family.
While Huckabee’s endorsement is being ballyhooed in the press as a boon to the ballot measure, the Baptist minister and former Arkansas governor has a long record of attempting to not just ban abortion but also contraception. Likewise, Arkansas has one of the highest teen pregnancy rates in the nation and there is a staggering need for contraceptive services in a state where nearly half the women have no access to publicly funded family planning programs, as noted by the Guttmacher Institute. His support of Colorado’s proposed Amendment 36 is hardly a revelation to anybody paying attention.
Consequently, the endorsement raises a larger question: Who exactly is this helping?
The citizen initiative process to get a statewide measure on the ballot is fairly easy, some might say ridiculously so. Witness proposed Amendment 49 to impeach Sen. Hillary Clinton for spying on Americans with a “Superman camera” that can see through bedroom and bathroom ceilings.
That’s Colorado-style democracy in action. Or maybe inaction, depending upon your point of view.
In the meantime, Kristi Burton, the 20-year-old student at a Bible-based correspondence law school, and her organization, Colorado for Equal Rights, are working to get the “egg as a person” initiative on the November ballot.
Proponents are about halfway through the six-month time frame to collect the fairly low threshold of 76,047 signatures of valid registered voters. A couple of brisk weekends patrolling the parking lots of Colorado’s mega churches could take care of the petitions.
He won a scant 13 percent of the vote in the Colorado GOP caucuses and was positively clobbered by a 3-to-1 margin by ex-Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney in El Paso County — the hotbed of the state’s social conservative movement.
All told the Huckabee bully pulpit consists of fewer than 9,000 voters statewide — or 8.5 percent of the signatures needed to get the measure on the ballot.
With Romney now out of the race and Huckabee trailing badly in the national hunt for delegates, is Team Huck (gasp) pandering for the votes of Romney supporters among the religious right who can’t abide Sen. John McCain, the party’s presumptive nominee?
Trouble is, it’s not a leap of faith to assume that the “values voters” crowd who want an abortion ban and drastic curtailing of family planning services were already on the Huckabee bandwagon since Romney waffled on the issue so as not to offend his pro-business bloc, who are less driven by social issues.
So, there’s just not a lot of voters to be won there.
But in the madcap world of campaign publicity, it’s quite common for the darkest of the dark-horse candidates to take a controversial position in order to generate some badly needed press, which often turns into flush campaign coffers.
And on this score, Huckabee may very well declare “mission accomplished.”