Mike Huckabee’s Latest Strategy Aims To Turn Trolling Into Better Polling

With the Iowa caucuses a little over three months away, Huckabee has yet to have his moment. His poll numbers are bad (though not bad enough to bump him from the mainstage at next week’s CNBC debate.) And he’s way behind in the GOP money race, having raised just $1.24 million – the lowest out of all the 10 candidates who’ve made a top-tier debate this year.

Given those challenges, it’s understandable then to see Huckabee now dabbling with a bit of political theater, to say the least. A former Baptist pastor, Fox News pundit, and author of several books, Huckabee knows how to speak in soundbites to get a good headline – particularly when it comes to social issues. Most recently, he’s picked a fight with Rainbow Doritos, criticized President Obama’s treatment of the pope as “classless,” and staged a highly dramatic scene outside a Kentucky jail for the release of anti-gay marriage Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis. Like Donald Trump, Huckabee has also been a consistent source of entertainment on Twitter, although he hasn’t proven to be quite as politically adept at it as the real estate mogul.

Yet with the summer “silly season” long gone and the presidential field beginning to winnow, this latest Benghazi rant begs a serious question: Is Mike Huckabee still making a genuine play for the White House, or just trolling the candidates who are?

The Huckabee camp, for its part, insists it’s the former.

Some are skeptical of Team Huckabee’s optimism, however, and view his inflammatory tweeting as a clear act of desperation, if not outright trolling.

“People aren’t taking him that seriously,” said GOP strategist Ford O’Connell, who worked with Arizona Sen. John McCain’s presidential campaign in 2008. “I don’t know if he’s solely just a troll. But he’s definitely a candidate who’s down on his luck, grasping at straws.”

“[Huckabee’s] strong point has always been social conservatives, and right now they’re gravitating toward Carson and Cruz,” said O’Connell. “He’s a man without a slice of the party right now.”

Read more from Emma Margolin at MSNBC

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Analysis & Political Strategy