Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee has declared war on Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, and it's getting ugly. Huckabee's main line of attack: Cruz is an insincere phony peddling faith to his hoodwinked Christian supporters.
Wednesday, Huckabee tweeted out a year-old New York Times article on Cruz describing his meeting with two gay hoteliers in New York last April (which, of course, resulted in massive backlash for the hotel owners). The Times piece claims Cruz took on a "different tone" at the event on same-sex marriage and, according to one attendee, said he would not love his daughters any less should they come out as gay. The senator also said—as he has always maintained—that he believes states should determine marriage laws rather than the federal government.
Huckabee used the event as a means of questioning Cruz's faith and suggesting he's being hypocritical in his attack on "New York values."
"I'll never play political games with my faith," tweeted Huckabee Wednesday. "We shouldn't say one thing for votes, and another for NYC money."
On the same day he issued the low-blow tweet, Huckabee contributed to Buzzfeed's piece about Cruz's tithing shortfall, which Huckabee used as another way to undermine his religious sincerity.
"According to personal tax returns released during his 2012 Senate bid, Cruz contributed less than 1% of his income to charity between 2006 and 2010 — a far cry from the 10% most evangelical leaders believe the Bible demands," Buzzfeed reported Thursday in an article on a concerted effort by Republican opponents—headed up by Americans United for Values—to hit Cruz where it hurts the most, his faith.
Buzzfeed tried to get some high-profile figures to comment, and Huckabee (who won Iowa back in 2008) apparently jumped at the chance.
"I just think it's hard to say God is first in your life if he’s last in your budget," Huckabee told the outlet Wednesday in response to a question about Cruz's inadequate tithing. Though Huckabee never called out Cruz by name, his meaning was clear enough.
"If I can't trust God with a dime out of each dollar that I earn, then I'm not sure how I can tell him that I trust him with my whole life… To me, it's a validation of a person’s stewardship and whether they put God first in their life, not just in their political endeavors," he said, adding, "It’s a matter of authenticity. If I say I’m a vegan but you look at me eating hamburgers and ribeye every night you’re going to say, 'I don’t think this guy's really a vegan.'"
Huckabee told Buzzfeed that he and his wife had been faithful in their charitable giving since they were first married, even emailing proof that he had donated over 10% of his taxable income in the last two years (11.05% in 2014 and 11.82% in 2013).
(Buzzfeed tried to get Ben Carson to likewise take a shot at Cruz's faith, but he didn't bite, saying, "Since tithing is a personal commitment between oneself and God, I wouldn't begin to speculate on someone else’s faith or devotion," and that voters must "decide for themselves what they are looking for in a leader.")
While Buzzfeed spends a majority of the piece focusing on Cruz's charitable giving and the Republican infighting that "could easily devolve into an unsavory contest of spiritual one-upsmanship," the author does note that Cruz isn't alone among presidential candidates in not giving much to charity.
Professor Barack Obama reportedly donated just around 1% of his annual income when he was at the University of Chicago in the early 2000s. During Jeb Bush’s semi-retirement in 2012 and 2013 he gave less than 2% of his earnings to charity. And among the members of America’s billionaires club, Donald Trump has long had a reputation for relative stinginess (though his opaque personal finances and penchant for hyperbole make it hard to tell for sure.)