Huckabee hearts Vegas for GOP 2016; no worry about temptation for delegates

Dallas News

MANCHESTER, NH – Cross Mike Huckabee off the list of conservative evangelicals who have qualms about putting the 2016 Republican convention in Las Vegas.

“I don’t have any problem with it at all. Look, Las Vegas is a phenomenal city for conventions and conferences,” said Huckabee, the Fox host, pastor, former Arkansas governor and darling of social conservatives when he ran for president in 2008.

“My gosh, the Southern Baptist Convention met there – I’m trying to remember how many years ago. I made the statement then: I went to Las Vegas with a $20 bill and Ten Commandments and didn’t break either one. The fact that you go to Las Vegas doesn’t meant that you’re doing something that is indefensible to your late mother’s memory,” he said.

Dallas and Las Vegas are widely viewed as front-runners to host the next GOP convention, because of their ability to provide convenient lodging for delegates and raise the huge sums needed. Four other cities remain in contention: Cleveland, Cincinnati, Denver and Kansas City, Mo.

But Vegas faces an image problem, and as we reported a few days ago, some of the nation’s leading figures in the religious right – among them Phyllis Schlafly and James Dobson – have lodged objections with GOP chairman Reince Priebus and the rest of the Republican National Committee. In particular, they cite the prevalence of escorts and prostitution, in addition to gambling and the general image that Vegas is a city that embraces and celebrates vice. Vegas defenders scoff.

Las Vegas’ famous Strip. (Las Vegas News Bureau/Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority)

“I speak there many times a year on the speaking circuit,” Huckabee said Saturday when asked about the controversy after addressing the New Hampshire Freedom Summit, a gathering of conservatives. “Good gosh, it’s really a terrific destination for conferences and conventions. And even clean and wholesome entertainment. I’ve never put so much as a nickel in a slot machine. So it’s not like there’s this irresistible urge to go to Las Vegas and do something outrageous.”

He said he respects the views of Dobson and the others but “you can find that in Dallas, or anywhere else for that matter.”

As for Vegas’ main rival in this competition, he said: “Dallas is fine. Honestly, I don’t care. Everybody was afraid of going to New York when it was there – it was one of the greatest conventions we ever had. They did a beautiful job of handling it. Minneapolis was fine. By the time they get it it’s all so well oiled I don’t think it makes a big difference.”

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