Mike Huckabee is looking to provide a nicer alternative - "conservatism with a smile" - to Rush Limbaugh's brash, louder, confrontational radio style. Huckabee will debut a new radio show on Monday that will directly challenge Limbaugh from noon-to-3 p.m., Politico reports. Rush's behaviour often gets him into trouble, his most recent storm being the one over remarks he made about contraception activist Sandra Fluke. Rush weathered that storm, and after being on the air for nearly three decades he's weathered new competitors before, too.
Huckabee hopes his new show will catch on with the conservative set who don't want to listen to Rush get into another shouting match, either with his guest or himself. "I’m going to treat every guest with respect and civility. Nobody is going to come on and get into a shouting match with me. That’s just not my style," Huckabee explained to Politico.
A Republican strategist thinks Huckabee's nice guy style will help him gain an audience, possibly outside of the typical Republican talk radio circles. "[Rush] is a polarizing figure in the larger culture. [Huckabee] is conservatism with a smile, which is a big difference in a party where the message is so often delivered angrily., said Steve Schmidt, a former aide for John McCain. Schmidt also thinks Huckabee's uncertain political future might help his ratings.
“Mike Huckabee is ready to be president of the United States,” Schmidt said. Using a national radio show to help maintain visibility for another presidential run is pretty clever, but we're four years away from a time when Huckabee would be able to cash in on those opportunities. Huckabee would have to stay on air long enough without being cancelled before that's even something he could consider, and to his credit he acknowledged as much to Politico. “It’s like the old saying, ‘Don’t go buy a corsage if you haven’t been invited to the prom yet’,” he said.
As Politico points out, this isn't the first high-profile member of the conservative media to offer themselves up against Limbaugh in the afternoon slot. Fred Thompson's show lasted from 2009 to 2011 before he stopped. Before Thompson it was Bill O'Reilly, whose style isn't so far off from Rush's, who could only get to number two on the radio charts behind Rush's juggernaut program.
Huckabee already has media training, though. He's got his own show on Fox, and has done a monthly . He is also a favorite of professional wrestler Ric Flair, so his ratings should be high in the Carolinas, at the very least.