Potential 2016 presidential candidate Mike Huckabee has no problem embracing his faith-based values that have shaped his life. The former Arkansas governor and pastor recently made that clear by accepting invitations to speak at two Christian-sponsored events in the key primary state of Iowa.
According to the Des Moines Register, the first is a Cedar Rapids gathering called “Pastors and Pews,” which is set to take place Aug. 7 and 8. The following day, he will speak in Ames at the Family Leader Summit.
Likely missing from both events despite receiving an invitation is Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul. Though he has worked in the past to court Christian voters, he has reportedly excused himself from these two events–even though his schedule has him in Iowa around the same time.
Family Leader Summit organizer Bob Vander Plaats explained to the Register that Paul’s camp blamed his absence on a personal obligation.
Though he said he takes the senator “at his word that it’s a family commitment that’s preventing him from being at our summit,” he said he considers it “odd that he’s not going to be at the pastor’s event.”
“Pastors and Pews” begins the same day Paul will be in the state to address a Des Moines conservative organization.
His apparent reluctance to appear at the faith-based events have led to some speculation that he is abandoning the GOP’s Christian base to seek voters in other blocs. Vander Plaats said he is not yet ready to make such an assumption, though.
“It’s way too early for him to be doing that kind of calculation,” he said, noting that, in any event, it is not a politically savvy decision to skip these opportunities.
“I’d think he’d want to ding Huckabee’s base,” he said. “I’m sure Cruz and Jindal and Perry are not going to concede a base that’s perceived to be Huckabee’s.”
Each of those Republicans – in addition to former Sen. Rick Santorum – is slated to speak at the summit.
Despite Paul’s popularity among Republicans, Huckabee is shaping up to be a formidable force among likely GOP candidates. His favorability rating, according to a recent Iowa poll, is second only to U.S. Rep Paul Ryan among likely primary voters.
This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Informing And Equipping Americans Who Love Freedom