Huckabee calls Obama tough to beat, but historical rationale falls short

Mike Huckabee, the former Arkansas governor, said Monday that President Obama’s detractors might be overestimating his weakness in advance of next year’s presidential election.

But the 2008 presidential candidate's history lesson on why Obama is on solid footing was flawed. 

“I think he is going to be tough to beat,” Huckabee, who now hosts a show on Fox News, said in a Presidents Day interview on “Good Morning America” on ABC. “I think all this talk that, oh, he's a one-term president — people tend to forget that only one time since 1868 has an incumbent president been taken out who ran for reelection, and that was when Jimmy Carter ran in 1980. Every other time, a president may have taken himself out of the running, but you don't beat presidents easily.”

In fact, presidents running for reelection don’t have quite as strong a track record as Huckabee claimed. In addition to Carter, George H.W. Bush (1992), Herbert Hoover (1932) and William Howard Taft (1912) were other 20th century presidents who unsuccessfully sought a second term. 


Back in the late 1800s, Benjamin Harrison unseated Grover Cleveland, then lost four years later after Cleveland sought a rematch. And Carter won his only term in 1976 by defeating Gerald Ford, who had taken over the Oval Office a couple of years earlier after Richard Nixon resigned. 

Huckabee, who won the 2008 Iowa caucuses, also called running for president a “very grueling process” and said that he would make a decision in the summer about whether to wage another bid for the Republican nomination. He was on "Good Morning America" to discuss his new book, A Simple Government.

“I think the fact that I've done it before gives me both a sense of gravity toward the process, but it also gives me an understanding that it's not always smart to be the first guy out of the corral and out there in the arena riding around on your pony by yourself,” Huckabee said.