Mike Huckabee doesn't forget.
He doesn't forget the sneers of the "Wall Street bunch," who considered the former Arkansas governor with populist economic views an ignorant Baptist preacher unfit to become president in 2008. He doesn't forget the deal he insists that fellow Southerner Fred Thompson struck with John McCain to remain in the 2008 race through the South Carolina primary to deny him victory and momentum there after Huckabee had won the Iowa caucuses. The two other men have both denied making such a pact, but Huckabee lost the primary and McCain became the Republican nominee.
Now that he's running again, he doesn't forget the skepticism of pundits who've suggested his candidacy is motivated by money rather than a sincere attempt to win the presidency. "What a stupid thing to say," he remarked in an interview at The Home Plate Diner in Des Moines, Iowa. "I had a TV show. I had a book deal. I was making more speeches than I could keep up with. That's what I walked away from to do this."
Huckabee, 60, still advocates the fair tax — a 23 percent national sales levy that he argues should replace the current income and payroll tax system. A tax advisory commission appointed by President George W. Bush criticized the idea on grounds that it would hurt lower-income Americans who spend a higher proportion of their income than the affluent do. Huckabee called the commission's analysis flawed.
He also carries a chip on his shoulder for the "Wall Street bunch." During the 2007 CNBC economic debate, he recalls, he cautioned that the economy wasn't rewarding working-class voters even as rival candidates praised it.
"I was just pilloried for that by The Wall Street Journal and by others who thought that I was a total ignoramus," he said. "I was getting savaged for it by the elitists."