Mike Huckabee Disses Ben Carson In An Desperate Attempt To Stay Relevant
Ben Carson's biography has been the focus of intense media attention for the last week or so, and now, Mike Huckabee wants in on the fun. In an interview Monday, Huckabee boasted that he's "never stabbed anybody," nor has he "hit [his] mother with a hammer." The former Arkansas governor was trying to contrast himself with Carson, who claimed in his biography to have done both of those things. More broadly, this was an attempt by Huckabee to stay relevant in the 2016 news cycle ahead of Tuesday's debate. Given his trajectory in the race, though, that ship may have already sailed.
On Monday's episode of Morning Joe, Mika Brzezinski brought up recent allegations that Carson, who's tied with Donald Trump for first place in the polls, had fabricated biographical details in his book, specifically those that dealt with his supposedly violent tendencies as a child. She asked Huckabee, who stands at around 3 percent in the polls, if his own published works would stand up to scrutiny. Huckabee said they would, then segued into a sideways attack on Carson.
"I will go on record today and tell you this, Mika: I never hit my mother with a hammer, and I never stabbed anybody," Huckabee said. "Never wrote about it, either. So, there you go. At least I'm out there on the record for that."
Carson claims that he was a violent child who once attacked his mother with a hammer and attempted to stab somebody before finding religion and turning his life around. That's been his official story for years, but when CNN interviewed nine of Carson's former classmates, none recalled him having violent tendencies. The CNN piece was published just a day after Politico reported that Carson had lied about receiving a scholarship to United States Military Academy (known as West Point); as a result, Carson's biography is now being picked through with a fine-tooth comb.
But while Carson has been under fire recently from a number of fronts, he's still polling well above every other Republican candidate other than Trump. Huckabee, meanwhile, has been languishing in single-digits for months; while he did make the cut for the last three primetime debates, he'll be demoted to the kids' table forum for Tuesday's debate, as his numbers recently sank below Fox Business Network's threshold.
Huckabee, then, is using a tried-and-true campaign technique for low-polling candidates: Attack the frontrunner. Candidates struggling to break out of the pack often name-drop (or, in Huckabee's case, obliquely reference) the candidates at the top in an attempt to associate themselves with the leading candidates. At the debates, for example, Rand Paul frequently lobs attacks at Trump, while John Kasich — who along with Paul is polling at around 3 percent — has started criticizing Carson's stance on Medicaid.
It seems doubtful that Huckabee will be able to launch himself into serious contention for the presidency, simply by virtue of how big the field itself is. However, he did have some tough love for Carson, who's recently been complaining about the level of scrutiny his life has received.
"You know that if you run for office, you're gonna be put through the sausage grinder," Huckabee said. "This ain't beanbag. It is a brutal process. I've been through it for 26 years, and life ain't fair. I'm telling ya."