Candidate: Mike Huckabee
Political Background: Former Governor of Arkansas
Campaign Website: http://www.mikehuckabee.com/
GOP Appeal: Supports FairTax and/or tax code overhaul and simplification, background as Baptist minister appeals to evangelicals, anti-abortion, pro-capital punishment, knows how to attract minority vote, energy plan includes nuclear power, pro-traditional marriage, anti-LOST, pro-free market but with fair trade, pro-strengthening of 10th Amendment (granting of powers to states and to people), pro-2nd Amendment, opposes universal health care, strong belief in personal responsibility, anti-Fairness Doctrine, strong stance on Iran, believes we have responsibility in Iraq, supports vouchers for private schools.
Cross-over Appeal to Dems: Fiscal moderate who appealed to progressives in Arkansas, acknowledges consensus on abortion can never be reached, anti-"3 strikes" law, does not pander to evangelicals despite rabid support from that bloc of voters, good environmental record, fair trade stance has bipartisan appeal, strong advocate of healthy lifestyles due to incredible weight-loss, does not support privatization of Social Security, equal support for public schools as private schools.
Cons: Has mixed record on spending control as Governor, FairTax has mixed support from both parties and many are against it, stances on abortion and gay marriage alienate many moderate and liberal votes, much of his cross-over appeal is at the expense of Republican support, mixed immigration record does not help with GOP base.
My Personal Thoughts: Huckabee is an interesting case, because his policies are all over the board. He's a definite social conservative (without overtly pandering to SoCons and evangelicals), and is a fiscal moderate. He has an honest, "this is who I am and I won't lie to you about it" attitude that people respect and it is an endearing quality to many people. Also, he has a sense of humor and ease about him that is similar to Fred Thompson.
What Huckabee does not have is a record that will appeal to enough Republicans to win him a nomination. Yes, Huckabee's policies will play well in places like Iowa, where you find that the majority of voters are SoCons and fiscal moderates...but he will have problems in other states, where guys like Romney, McCain, Giuliani, and Thompson all have distinct advantages.
Yes, he did cut taxes 90 times as Governor of Arkansas, and he also refused to raise taxes during a budget shortfall...but his state's spending went up 65.3% when during his two terms and he raised taxes 21 times. It's very hard to get a handle on Huckabee's actual positions when you compare his past record to his future plans.
BUT (there's always a "but"), Huckabee's honest approach is also the kind that GOP voters can respect and live with. The fact that he has said, "yes, this is how I feel, this is how I think, this is what I did, and this is what I'm going to do," on every issue and on every question thrown his way is why Huckabee has begun to win over many voters. While you may not agree with him on issues or policy, that kind of honesty is honorable and could win him some surprising votes.