Pastor Mike Huckabee knows his Scripture. So no doubt he’s familiar with Jeremiah 13:23: ‘Can the Ethiopian change his skin or the leopard his spots?’ Huckabee should think of that as he tries to sell himself as a conservative after governing as a moderate, if not a liberal.

 Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee recently announced he’s running for president, becoming the sixth Republican to do so. Now here’s what’s funny: As a presidential candidate, he may talk a lot about his time as a Fox News talk show host, but he won’t talk much about his time as governor. He can’t.

 The truth is that while serving as the 44th governor of Arkansas, from 1996 to 2007, Huckabee built up a record that Bill Clinton, another Arkansas governor, would have been proud of. Like Clinton, Huckabee is remembered as a pragmatic populist politician, not the doctrinaire conservative he parades around as today.

 A couple of measures also earned Huckabee the reputation as a ‘compassionate conservative.’ In 1998, he ordered that Arkansas’s share of a $206 billion settlement against big tobacco companies be entirely dedicated to improving health care.

 And later, in 2005, when 75,000 victims of Hurricane Katrina sought refuge in Arkansas, Huckabee arranged to shelter, house and feed them.

 In a video announcing his candidacy, he says Washington ‘has done enough lying and stealing. I’ll never rob seniors of what our government promised them and even forced them to pay for.’

 Equally surprising, perhaps, is that this outspoken opponent of immigration reform today was once a pro-immigration reformer. As governor, he supported in-state tuition and scholarships for students who were brought to this country illegally by their parents.

 Of course, there’s a reason why Mike Huckabee doesn’t talk about any of those programs today. They would drive his base — the tea party, evangelical crowd — crazy. And he needs that crowd in order to win the primaries.

 What a difference between Mike Huckabee then and now. As governor, he built a strong, progressive record. Too bad he can’t, or won’t, run on it.

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