Mike Huckabee Backs Tom Cotton's Bid for US Senate

by Andrew DeMillo, The Associated Press  on Tuesday, Aug. 26, 2014 7:33 am  

Mike Huckabee (Photo by Christopher Halloran / Shutterstock.com)

LITTLE ROCK — Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee accused U.S. Senate Democratic leaders of obstruction on Monday as he campaigned in his home state for Republican Tom Cotton, backing a candidate who has the support of conservative groups with whom he's tangled over the years.

Huckabee endorsed Cotton's bid to unseat Democratic Sen. Mark Pryor, praising him as key to the Republicans' chances to win a majority in the Senate. The GOP needs a net gain of six seats to win that majority, and Arkansas' race is a closely watched race in that fight. Cotton is a freshman congressman representing south Arkansas' 4th District.

"It's very important to America that (Senate Majority Leader) Harry Reid get moved to the back of the room," Huckabee said during a brief news conference with Cotton. "This is a guy who has treated the Senate like the roach motel. Bills go in, but they never come out."

Huckabee, who lives in Florida and now hosts a weekly show on the Fox News Channel, has tangled frequently with some of the conservative groups supporting Cotton's bid. Club for Growth, which is backing Cotton, ran ads during Huckabee's unsuccessful presidential bid in 2008 highlighting tax increases he supported as governor. Huckabee has in the past referred to the group as the "Club for Greed."

Huckabee, who is considering another run for the White House, complained last year about such groups focusing on unseating Republican incumbents and said those efforts would be better used against Democrats.

When asked about how his criticism of Club for Growth squared with his support for Cotton, Huckabee replied: "I'm glad to see they're on the right side of a candidate for once. It's very refreshing."

Huckabee also backed Cotton's rival for the GOP nomination, Beth Anne Rankin, when they ran for the 4th Congressional District two years ago. Rankin worked for Huckabee in the governor's office as a liaison. Huckabee released a video during the campaign touting Rankin as the "home-grown" candidate in the race.

Huckabee and Cotton both criticized Pryor as too closely aligned with President Barack Obama, a common refrain in a state where the president remains deeply unpopular.

"Arkansans know that Mark Pryor no longer reflects their conservative views and it's time to retire Mark Pryor and elect a conservative to the United States Senate from our conservative state," Cotton said.

Pryor's campaign dismissed the endorsement.

"This endorsement was fairly predictable, but there are only so many former governors for Congressman Cotton to hide behind before he's forced to answer for his reckless votes against Arkansas Children's Hospital," spokesman Erik Dorey said. The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee has spent $3.6 million to run ads criticizing Cotton for voting against funding pediatric research at children's hospitals.

Huckabee's visit is part of a series of recent campaign stops to Arkansas by national Republican figures including former presidential nominee Mitt Romney and Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is set to visit Arkansas on Wednesday to campaign for Republican gubernatorial nominee Asa Hutchinson.

Follow Andrew DeMillo on Twitter at Twitter.com/ademillo.

(Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, rewritten, broadcast or distributed.)



Please read our comments policy before commenting.