by Alexander Burns
July 14, 2014
As a presidential candidate, Mike Huckabee made a name for himself as the regular Joe on the debate stage, a threadbare underdog who couldn’t afford his opponents’ Madison Avenue-style commercials, plush hotels and chartered planes. In his campaign memoir, Huckabee proclaimed that he “kept in touch” with ordinary people while eating food-court fare and waiting for long-delayed commercial flights as “other candidates were stepping onto their Gulfstream jets.”
These days, the former Arkansas governor is living — and flying — far more comfortably.
Now a Fox News commentator and highly paid public speaker, Huckabee has in just a few years racked up at least $253,000 in private air travel bills on the way to political events, according to a POLITICO review of federal and state campaign finance records.
As he continues to toy publicly with the possibility of a second presidential campaign in 2016, Huckabee has cut a costly path through the nation’s political battlegrounds, incurring significant costs to Republican candidates and groups in at least nine states, among them the Iowa Republican Party and Missouri Senate candidate Todd Akin’s infamous 2012 campaign
. It’s a penchant for aerial luxury that could present a jarring contrast to Huckabee’s homespun shtick should he decide to be a candidate in the future.
While wealthy and famous politicians often fly in style, Huckabee’s political travel is lavish by any standard. He appears to rely on private flights far more frequently than his potential rivals in the 2016 field. And if fans are often happy to cover the cost, Huckabee’s insistence on chartered planes tends to set him apart from a field of competitors scrambling to amass chits from early-state power brokers.