Taking on Mike Huckabee With a Hard Hitting Commercial

Mike Huckabee would be a terrible president. Just look at his nearly 11 years as governor of Arkansas. Mike Huckabee is bad for the Republican Party. I stuck my neck out four years ago as the first openly gay candidate to ever run for president and I ran as a Republican. My message then and now is that we need to open up the Republican Party to minorities, women and yes, even the LGBT community.

After the shellacking that Mitt Romney took in 2012, Reince Priebus the Chairman of the Republican National Committee (RNC), commissioned a study. After months of work, the RNC came up with the same conclusion in a 97 page report. If the Republican Party wants to survive and even expand it needs to become a big tent party and open up the flaps of that tent to all.

Mike Huckabee's Willie Horton

I wrote extensively about Mike Huckabee in 2011 when he was thinking of running for president. After his second place finish in 2008 to Sen. John McCain, I wrote columns in the Huffington Post and the Guardian talking about Huckabee's "Willie Horton" problem.

This was in reference to another governor, Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis who let a convicted murder out of prison on a weekend furlough. Once free, that prisoner Willie Horton went on a crime spree where he repeatedly raped, stabbed and terrorized a Maryland couple for 22 hours until Cliff Barnes managed to escape and call police.

That issue dogged Dukakis in 1988 when he was the Democratic nominee for president and he lost badly to George H. W. Bush. I am well aware of that campaign, because I ran the PAC that worked with the victims of Willie Horton and helped them tell their stories.

Mike Huckabee Set Maurice Clemmons Free

Now, 27 years later, Mike Huckabee finds himself in a similar situation, only worse. While governor of Arkansas, Huckabee commuted the 108-year prison sentence of Maurice Clemmons. Clemmons ended up in Seattle, Washington, where on November 29, 2009, he casually walked into a coffee shop early one morning and shot and killed four Lakewood, WA police officers while they were eating breakfast. He fired at point blank range, killing Sgt. Mark Renninger, Tina Griswold, Gregory Richards, and Ronnie Owens instantly.

Mike Huckabee has the blood of these four officers on his hands. He has never apologized to the families of the slain officers, or showed any remorse for what happened that day.

Kim Renninger Fights Back

A year ago, after writing another column in the Huffington Post on the fifth anniversary of the murders, I heard from Kim Renninger, whose husband Sgt. Mark Renninger was one of the four officers slain.

She told me that my depiction of how Mike Huckabee distanced himself from his decision to let Clemmons out of prison was correct and that neither she nor any of the other families ever heard a word from Mike Huckabee. His pathetic comment at the time was, "I'm responsible for that, and it's not something I'm happy about at this particular moment."

We formed a super PAC to oppose Mike Huckabee

Kim Renninger and I formed Truth Squad 2016 in June 2015 to take on Mike Huckabee. This week we are running our first commercial in Las Vegas, Nevada to remind voters about Mike Huckabee's deplorable record as governor of Arkansas. The innovative animated commercial titled "Pardon" will air on CNN and Fox News during and around today's two Republican Debates (Huckabee will be appearing in CNN's Undercard Debate at 4:00 pm PST).

The :30 second version of "Pardon" will air a total of 19 times from Monday, December 14th to Wednesday, December 16th. It will run on CNN Pre-Debate, during the Undercard Debate, between the two Debates, 6 times on CNN Newsroom, 4 times during Erin Burnett and Anderson Cooper, and various other times on FOX News and CNN over the three day period.

We want to make sure voters know that Mike Huckabee released a record 1,033 prisoners while he was governor of Arkansas, twice the number of his three predecessors combined. Huckabee should never have released Clemmons from prison and our commercial "Pardon" tells that story."

Huckabee is down but not Out

While Mike Huckabee is low in the polls and appears not to be gaining any traction, we feel that his record as governor needs to get out. This commercial, and the story it tells, may help hasten his departure from the presidential campaign. It goes right to his character, just as Willie Horton's release from prison and subsequent crime spree helped defeat Governor Michael Dukakis in 1988.

The first of its kind animated commercial "Pardon" was created by designers and animators Cameron Mott and Tony Boserman. The voice-overs were done by professionals in Los Angeles.