Mike Huckabee: Democrats Think Women Can’t ‘Control Their Libidos’

The former governor enrages Democrats with his comments, but Republicans who heard him speak say no one should count him out for the White House just yet.

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee speaks during the third day of the Republican National Convention at the Tampa Bay Times Forum on August 29, 2012 in Tampa, Florida.
National Journal
Adam Wollner
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Adam Wollner
Jan. 23, 2014, 11:19 a.m.

Mike Hucka­bee isn’t afraid to talk about abor­tion and poverty, and he thinks his fel­low Re­pub­lic­ans shouldn’t be either.

In an ad­dress dur­ing the Re­pub­lic­an Na­tion­al Com­mit­tee’s winter meet­ing Thursday in Wash­ing­ton, Hucka­bee, the former Arkan­sas gov­ernor con­sid­er­ing mount­ing a second pres­id­en­tial run in 2016, said Re­pub­lic­ans need to em­brace two key is­sues Demo­crats hope to seize on in the next two elec­tion cycles.

Hucka­bee, a fa­vor­ite among evan­gel­ic­al Chris­ti­ans, said it’s time Re­pub­lic­ans re­ject the Demo­crats’ charge that they are wa­ging a “war on wo­men.” Rather, he said the GOP is fight­ing a “war for wo­men” by ad­voc­at­ing for a less­er role for gov­ern­ment.

“The Demo­crats want to in­sult the wo­men of Amer­ica by mak­ing them be­lieve that they are help­less without Uncle Sug­ar com­ing in and provid­ing them a pre­scrip­tion each month for birth con­trol be­cause they can­not con­trol their li­bido or their re­pro­duct­ive sys­tem without the gov­ern­ment,” Hucka­bee said.

Hucka­bee’s sug­ges­tion that Demo­crats don’t think wo­men can “con­trol their li­bido” im­me­di­ately sparked con­tro­versy, with op­pon­ents de­cry­ing it as an­oth­er ex­ample of the GOP’s in­sens­it­iv­ity. White House spokes­man Jay Car­ney called the com­ments “of­fens­ive.”

But they hardly seemed to both­er most Re­pub­lic­ans in at­tend­ance, most of whom praised the one­time gov­ernor’s mes­sage. 

Some Re­pub­lic­ans want the party to tone down its rhet­or­ic on so­cial is­sues and em­phas­ize eco­nom­ic ones in or­der to ap­peal to a wider swath of the elect­or­ate. But Iowa Re­pub­lic­an Party Chair­man A.J. Spiker said the party needs to go on of­fense in the abor­tion and con­tra­cep­tion de­bate, and that Hucka­bee is a prime ex­ample of how to do that.

“He is a great per­son to de­liv­er that mes­sage,” Spiker said.

Henry Bar­bour, a Mis­sis­sippi RNC mem­ber and neph­ew of former Gov. Haley Bar­bour, agreed that Re­pub­lic­ans can’t run away from the is­sue, but warned the party needs to avoid be­ing “shrill” when talk­ing about it.

“Tone is im­port­ant,” Bar­bour said.

Hucka­bee also said Re­pub­lic­ans should wel­come the de­bate on in­come in­equal­ity Pres­id­ent Obama has called for, ar­guing that poverty has only got­ten worse un­der the Demo­crats’ watch. He called for “a coun­try whose eco­nomy is based on the no­tion that if you are will­ing to work and work hard you can get ahead and it’s not the gov­ern­ment’s boot that’s in your face every time you try to get out of the hole.”

While Hucka­bee isn’t con­sidered to be a front-run­ner for the GOP’s pres­id­en­tial nom­in­a­tion — in part be­cause of his more con­ser­vat­ive stance on so­cial is­sues — Spiker and Bar­bour con­ten­ded he could be a force to be reckoned with due to his af­fabil­ity, com­mu­nic­a­tion skills, and ex­per­i­ence both in of­fice and as a former can­did­ate.

Bar­bour said Hucka­bee is “un­der­es­tim­ated” head­ing in­to 2016, while Spiker called him a “sol­id con­tender.”

He ad­ded, “I just don’t run in­to people who don’t like Mike.”

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