May 5, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Mike Huckabee emphasized his pro-life, pro-family, and pro-faith bona fides Tuesday as he announced his bid for the GOP’s 2016 presidential nomination.
The former Arkansas governor’s announcement follows two others yesterday by former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina and former Johns Hopkins neurosurgeon Ben Carson. They join Sens. Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, and Marco Rubio in what is quickly becoming a crowded GOP field.
Huckabee, who won in the Iowa caucuses in the 2008 GOP presidential primary, lamented the “slaughter” of the unborn through abortion in his speech Tuesday morning announcing his presidential campaign. He also warned about growing threats to religious liberty and emphasized his Christian faith.
Fiorina, who failed in a 2010 Senate campaign, announced her candidacy on Monday morning in an online video. Criticizing Democratic frontrunner, former Secretary of State, senator, and First Lady Hillary Clinton, Fiorina said she would fight “corruption” and “lowered expectations,” and encouraged citizens to stand with her against established interests.
Dr. Ben Carson, the former Johns Hopkins University neurosurgeon who headed the university's Medical Institutions, informally announced his candidacy to a Cincinnati, Ohio TV station on Sunday night. A more formal announcement came on Monday, in Carson's hometown of Detroit, Michigan.
All three candidates have put social issues on the forefront of their candidacies. And while all three are longshot contenders, in large part due to expected funding difficulties, Huckabee has benefited from being a Fox News host and his strong showing in 2008 among social conservatives.
While Carson will emphasize his medical history, and Fiorina her executive experience as the first woman to head a Fortune 20 company, Huckabee is best known of the three — and generally — for his socially conservative positions. A former pastor, last week he joined a coalition of leading social conservatives who said a Supreme Court ruling in favor of same-sex “marriage” would result in civil disobedience. Huckabee has also said he would leave the GOP if it backed marriage redefinition in its platform, and he has consistently opposed abortion.
Carson, who came to fame for comments directed at President Obama at the National Prayer Breakfast in 2013, has had an uncomfortable relationship with social conservatives. Earlier this year, he cited the propensity of sodomy in prisons as evidence of choice for homosexual attractions — and backtracked after a bipartisan backlash. He says the controversy convinced him to avoid discussing the issue of same-sex “marriage” with the media.
The neurosurgeon, whose race — he is likely to be the only black candidate in 2016 — has helped him garner substantial media attention, has compared abortion to “human sacrifice.” He has also indicated that turning away from abortion would help America come under God's graces again.
Fiorina, who is aiming to use her gender to her advantage in a 2016 general election presumed to pit the GOP nominee against Clinton, has made abortion an issue she regularly addresses. She headlined the Susan B. Anthony List's annual gala last month, and in January told LifeSiteNews that abortion “is an issue we should not be afraid of.”
She has said the position of abortion at “any time for any reason” is an “incredibly extreme position” rejected by a majority of Americans. Abortion-on-demand is the platform position of the Democratic Party and Clinton.
“This is an issue that we should not be afraid of,” she said, adding that abortion at “any time for any reason” is an “incredibly extreme position” that is rejected by many Americans.
Fiorina has been more circumspect on same-sex “marriage.” The New York Times today noted that Fiorina opposes changing the definition of marriage, but “supports granting government benefits to same-sex couples.”
All three candidates supported the Indiana religious liberty law that was subsequently changed after an enormous bipartisan political, corporate, and media backlash.
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In addition to Cruz, Paul, and Rubio, others expected to join the GOP race include former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, former Sen. Rick Santorum, and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker.
ForAmerica chairman Brent Bozell told LifeSiteNews that having so many strong social conservatives run for president will be a boon to the GOP in 2016.
“The more conversation on this, the better,” said the influential conservative. “The more Republicans return to their roots on social issues, the better. So many of them have spent the better part of the last three decades either running from them or, in some cases, running against them. And all they have done is alienate social conservatives.”
Asked whether spreading the votes of social conservatives among several candidates could lead to a socially moderate or liberal nominee, Bozell insisted more voices is better. “What I think would be very good is if a person doesn't go in the role of being pro-life, that that person is a pariah in the Republican Party.”
“The more people taking a strong position on this, the stronger the position becomes,” he said, saying he wanted all candidates to be pulled to the right on social issues.
In an email to LifeSiteNews, RedState Editor-in-Chief Erick Erickson said that while he did believe dilution was a threat, consolidation was more likely. “Given existing polling, I still think the right is going to be able to consolidate and have the funding to stay in the game against a more left-leaning candidate,” he said.
“I think each of the conservative candidates is running to make sure their core issues get the attention they think they deserve. As a result, I think they each bring a different focus on issues that is useful to be addressed,” Erickson said.
“I do, however, think they risk diluting the field and offering so many choices that the left of the party is able to consolidate.”