Republican presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee has been pretty tough on Beyoncé in recent months. He called the singer “crude” in an appearance on the “Daily Show” in January and said she was “mental poison” in his new book, “God, Guns, Grits and Gravy."
The former Arkansas governor says he’s offended by her sexually charged lyrics and dancing, particularly because she’s popular with a wide range of ages. As he argued the point with “Daily Show” host Jon Stewart, he said, “Do you know any parent who has a daughter that says, ‘Honey, if you make really good grades, someday when you are 12 or 13 we’ll get you your own stripper pole’ ”?
Why is he portraying Beyoncé as a symbol of cultural indulgence? Guess what: It might play well in Iowa, site of the first-in-the-nation caucuses, where a strong finish can make an underdog a front-runner overnight.
That’s the implication of a just-released Bloomberg Politics/Des Moines Register poll in any case. Yes, it asked a Beyoncé question: referencing the “mental poison” charge, it asked if Mr. Huckabee was mostly right about her, or had gone too far.
Among likely GOP caucus attendees, a plurality of 40 percent said he was “mostly right.” Thirty-eight percent said he’d “gone too far.” (Twenty-two percent said they “weren’t sure.”)
If nothing else, this response showed the wide gulf between parties in a state where partisan registration is split almost down the middle. Iowa Democrats were far more likely to be pro-Beyoncé, according to the poll. Fully 81 percent said Huckabee’s verbal hits on her went too far. Only 6 percent of Democrats said he was “mostly right."
So the Beyoncé thing might be a perfect troll for the politically astute Huckabee. It attracts lots of outrage among liberals (“He hates Beyoncé, but he played on stage with shock rocker Ted Nugent!”), which publicizes his views, which in the end only builds his Iowa support.
By the way, Huckabee currently leads his Republican rivals in Iowa. In the crowded GOP field, he gets a plurality of about 15 percent of the vote, according to the latest RealClearPolitics rolling average of major polls. That puts him about three points up on the second-place Republican, former pediatric neurosurgeon Ben Carson.
We’re not saying that Huckabee is slamming Beyoncé only as a cynical ploy. Criticism of her manner of showmanship is entirely consistent with his long-expressed beliefs. As a teenager, he wrote a column for an Arkansas Baptist newsletter that warned youths against the dangers of popular culture. Buzzfeed has just put a bunch of them up online.
“I strongly recommend that Christian teens stay away from dancing, mainly because some people would just not be able to respect a person who attended dances,” wrote the young Huckabee.