Asked a “What Would Jesus Do” question about the death penalty at last night’s presidential debate, Mike Huckabee explained that overseeing executions was his toughest job as Arkansas governor, then delivered one of the most memorable lines of the evening: “Jesus was too smart to ever run for public office.” The Huckabee campaign liked the response enough to post it to its campaign web site. While God-o-Meter points out that the response was actually an artful dodge, it played into a winning political pattern of Huckabee continuously speaking authoritatively about a subject popular with many American voters: Jesus and the Bible.Michael Goodwin at the Daily News offered Huckabee this tip of the hat:

The former Baptist minister’s defense of the death penalty while expressing anguish over how hard it was to sign off on executions made him seem both tough and human. It didn’t hurt that, a minute later, he was quoting the Bible. There were times when he could have sold snake oil to the audience – he was that good.

Asked whether every word of the Bible was the literal word of God, Huckabee offered the smoothest, most definitive–not to mention the most affirmative–response of any candidate:

The fact is that when people ask do we believe all of it, you either believe it or you don’t believe it. But in the greater sense, I think what the question tried to make us feel like was that, well, if you believe the part that says “Go and pluck out your eye,” well, none of us believe that we ought to go pluck out our eye. That obviously is allegorical….As the only person here on the stage with a theology degree, there are parts of it I don’t fully comprehend and understand, because the Bible is a revelation of an infinite God, and no finite person is ever going to fully understand it. If they do, their god is too small.

The Chicago Tribune rehashes the more tortured responses of the rest of Huckabee’s Republican competitors. While he seems to be running increasingly for “pastor-in-chief,” God-o-Meter doesn’t think conservative Christian voters who will make or break the former Arkansas Governor will mind. Which means Huckabee’s “10” rating on God-o-Meter is unlikely to drop anytime soon.10

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