“The Democrats would love to see him as the Republicans nominee,” said Bill Pascoe, a veteran Republican campaign operative for 20 years. But, he added, the liberal, Democratic-leaning Huffington Post “is killing him as we speak. Somebody at Huffington will need commutation after this because they are committing political murder.”
Mr. Pascoe said former Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, a Catholic and a favorite of evangelical voters, may be best positioned to benefit from Mr. Huckabee’s latest political woes.
“A Santorum bid, were it to take place, would be premised on a strong showing in Iowa, where evangelicals are big,” he said. “In any event, the Democratic National Committee will want to see Huckabee as nominee and then do a Willie Horton on him.”
One problem for Mr. Huckabee is that he commuted Clemmons’ sentence, according to the Seattle Times, “over the protests of prosecutors.”
Mr. Huckabee argued that Clemmons, in getting authorities to commute his original sentence, became eligible for parole, which the parole board then granted him. Even when the authorities later arrested him for parole violations and reincarcerated him for what was to be his full term, prosecutors elected to drop the very charges for which he was being held.
Clemmons also had been jailed on a child-rape charge in Washington but reportedly was released on bond a week ago.
Mr. Huckabee argued that Clemmons, despite demonstrating criminal and psychotic behavior, was not locked up by either state.
The political damage, combined with the lingering fallout from the DuMond case, already may have been done.
Last year, many on the right made life difficult for Mr. Huckabee on a series of issues. Conservatives complained that, as Arkansas governor from 1996 to 2007, he presided over one of the largest tax increases the state had seen.
But the folksy style of the ordained Southern Baptist minister has also proved potent on the stump, and he finished second to eventual Republican nominee Sen. John McCain in the race for delegates in 2008.