Conservative voters and much of the mainstream press may be smitten with Republican presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee’s affability and “ah, shucks” attitude, as proven by his soaring poll numbers and ever-growing list of endorsements.

But People for the American Way aren’t among them.

For starters, those leading the Washington, DC-based organisation aren’t big fans of the former Arkansas Governor’s, “long record of rhetoric and actions that reveal an ideologue’s agenda and a zealot’s intolerance for differing opinions.”

Case in point: the positions the ordained Southern Baptist minister put forth during his failed 1992 Senate campaign. During a campaign-trail interview with the Associated Press, for instance, Huckabee said allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly in the military would be a disgrace for the nation.

“I agree with the leadership of our military, who believe it is not in the best interest of the armed forces to have homosexuals serving on active duty,” he said at the time.

“I believe to try to legitimise that which is inherently illegitimate would be a disgraceful act of government.

“I feel homosexuality is an aberrant, unnatural and sinful lifestyle, and we now know it can pose a dangerous public health risk.”

Huckabee’s past comments regarding the treatment of people infected with HIV, however, were what put People for the American Way over the edge.

“It is the first time in the history of civilization in which the carriers of a genuine plague have not been isolated from the general population,” Huckabee said during the same interview.

“This deadly disease, for which there is no cure, is being treated as a civil rights issue instead of the true health crisis it represents.

“If the federal government is truly serious about doing something with the AIDS virus, we need to take steps that would isolate the carriers of this plague.”

The organisation points out that “this was 1992, four years after the federal government distributed a pamphlet penned by then-Surgeon General C. Everett Koop entitled Understanding AIDS which explained that the disease could not be contacted through everyday contact.

“Huckabee likes to portray himself as a different kind of right-wing leader, one who is conservative but ‘is not angry about it,'” People for the American Way said on its website yesterday.

“But judging by his past remarks, he appears far more like his right-wing allies than he would like the nation to believe.”

Chrys Hudson © 2007 GayWired.com; All Rights Reserved.