RNC chief: Mike Huckabee's a "model" for how Republicans should talk about social issues

Reassurance for social conservatives after a week of tension, or newfound cause for despair among libertarians after a week of encouragement? Or both?

In fairness, I think he’s talking more about tone here than trying to lay down message discipline on policy. How many Republicans famous for emphasizing traditional values qualify as recurring guests on both Jon Stewart’s show and “Red Eye”?

“When someone asks me ‘Are you going to cut off funding for Rob Portman?’ I think it’s just ridiculous,” Priebus told a group of reporters Friday during a briefing at National Review’s Washington, D.C., office. “He’s a good Republican. I think it’s also normal and decent to still support a person that you agree with on 99 percent of the issues.”

But Priebus says his support of Portman doesn’t signal a policy shift within the party’s platform. “Yes, we’re still a pro-life party. Yes, we still defend our platform on marriage,” he said. He emphasized, however, that Republicans must also sound “reasonable” to voters who disagree.

Priebus cited former governor Mike Huckabee of Arkansas as an example of someone who could be “a model for a lot of people in our party” in terms of discussing issues like marriage and abortion. “I always tell people: Listen to Governor Mike Huckabee,” he said. “I don’t know anyone that talks about them any better.”

Socially conservative on policy but moderate in tone? Sounds like a man who might have a future in 2016. How about it, Huck?

Asked in a Newsmax TV interview if he is considering another White House run, Huckabee declares: “Yeah, I’m not ruling it out at this point.

“I’m not sitting around having meetings with the strategic team, but it’s something I will certainly look at and I’m talking to some people just to determine whether it’s a kamikaze raid or whether it has potential and possibility.”

Does it? The idea of the GOP nominating a guy who’s conservative on social issues and moderate on fiscal questions is the opposite of the conventional wisdom on where the party’s headed, which is one reason why you’re seeing so many “better take Rand Paul seriously” articles in political media lately. But I dunno: If it’s true, and it probably is, that most of the major 2016 candidates will be a bit more liberal on gay marriage than they are now, there’ll be an appetite among social cons for a candidate who holds the line on values — especially if the Supreme Court legalizes gay marriage before the next election. If they unify behind Huckabee, that alone makes him a serious contender in a crowded field. At the very least, consolidating social conservative support would put Huck in the thick of things for the VP slot if he ends up losing the nomination. Is there enough room for him and Santorum in the field, though? Hard for me to believe that evangelical leaders will want both of them running when they’ll be eager to have a unified bloc behind one or the other from the beginning in Iowa. My gut says Huckabee’s the more viable of the two, partly because of the difference in tone Priebus describes, partly because he’s built up name recognition in the wider culture that I suspect Santorum hasn’t, and partly because Santorum’s failure to capitalize on the base’s anti-Romney sentiment last year suggests he won’t be able to do so against a stronger candidate. Either way, I sure hope at least one of them runs, just because the punch-ups with Rand Paul at the debates would be spectacular theater.

Speaking of tone, here’s an ad from an outside group narrated by Huck that ran late last year. His pal Jon gave him crap for it on “The Daily Show” a few weeks later.