In the wake of two devastating losses in the 2006 and 2008 elections, and the intra-party dispute surrounding the special election last month in New York’s 23rd Congressional District, many Republican Party leaders have argued for a “big tent” GOP in order to regain power. “We accept moderates in our party and we want moderates in our party,” House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) said recently. And RNC chair Michael Steele even tried to extend the “big tent” metaphor into hip-hop lingo:
STEELE: I look at it this way. The four of us are, let’s say for the sake of this example, all wearing a hat that says “GOP.” All right? You wear your hat one way. You like to wear it, you know, kind of cocked to the left, you know, because that’s cool out West. In the Midwest, you guys like to wear it a little bit to the right. In the South, you guys like to wear the brim straight ahead. Now, the Northeast, I wear my hat backwards, you know, because that’s how we roll in the Northeast. But what do you recognize? We all are wearing the hat that says “GOP” because that’s what we believe. That’s who we are.
However, former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee strongly disagrees. At a fundraiser in Canada last weekend, Huckabee stated definitively that the “big tent” will “kill the conservative movement“:
HUCKABEE: One of the things that concerns me is that in the United States there’s a real talk of “maybe we need to have this big tent and make sure that we just accommodate every view.” That’s what will kill the conservative movement. Conservatives are conservatives because they have convictions and convictions aren’t preferences.
Watch it here.
It seems that Huckabee has changed his tune. He said recently that “it’s fine” to have moderates in the GOP, saying that “[t]he tent could be big, but it shouldn’t have holes in the ceiling and let the rain come through.” And in another interview also endorsing a “big tent” GOP, Huckabee seemed to reject a more conservative third party. “The conservative movement is really the only home for Republicans,” he said.
However, voters may be leaning toward Huckabee’s most recent desire for a right-wing Republican Party. According to a new Rasmussen poll, in a three-way generic ballot test, the “Tea Party” candidate beat the Republican 23 percent to 18 percent.