hunter3.jpgWhen God-o-Meter read in Reuters this week that Mike Huckabee was trumpeting his support from Rev. Joel Hunter, the Orlando-based megachurch pastor and one-time president elect of the Christian Coalition, it was a bit surprised. GOM didn’t recall seeing a Huckabee campaign press release announcing an endorsement from Hunter, a rising star in the evangelical movement. Hunter tells God-o-Meter that’s because he’s not formally endorsing Huck–“I’m trying not to do the whole influence thing, but rather to come up with the best set of values on which Christians ought to vote”–but will vote for him in Florida’s presidential primary later this month. Hunter also says he might back a Democrat come November.
Huckabee won the pastor’s support after the former Arkansas Governor invited Hunter and his wife aboard his campaign bus a few weeks ago. “I was very impressed with his authenticity,” Hunter says. “Here’s a guy who doesn’t have a wallet or a gun where his heart should be.”
“I love the whole compassionate conservative thing, that he’s as much for those that are struggling economically as for those of means,” Hunter goes on. “I love that he takes the environment very seriously, that his general outlook is that we’re past the whole left and right thing. It’s a plus that he’s not immediately being adopted by the Republican Party. He’s not a part of the machinery.”
Indeed, Hunter says he may vote for a Democrat this November, especially if the pro-choice Rudy Giuliani gets the Republican nomination, and notes that the Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama campaigns have been in touch with him. “Part of my issue is being pro-life all the way through life, and many of the Democratic stances are more pro-life out of the womb than Republican stances, so I could possible vote for Obama or Clinton,” Hunter says. “As a pro-life person, I’d be glad to work for a Democrat to see if we could diminish the number of abortions by providing resources for women who carry their babies to term.”
The fact that none of the Republican candidates share Huckabee’s populist economic posture may also push Hunter to the Democratic side in the general election. “This whole trickle down thing—there ain’t nobody getting wet but those who are tricking,” he says. “So if it’s simply a matter of protecting big business or defending the United States, all the presidents are going to do a pretty good job of that. I’m looking for someone with heart.”


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