In the interviews following the Iowa Caucus results last night, Ed Rollins (National Campaign Chariman for Mike Huckabee) said Huckabee's "Populist" message connected with Iowa voters. To me, this begs the question of whether a Populist can be a Conservative.
Those most often proclaiming a Populist message have been Democrats, who then use Populist concerns to lead to a liberal nanny-state conclusion. Meanwhile, they demonize Conservatives as being oppressive Patrician aristocrats. However, as Rush Limbaugh has frequently pointed out on his program, it is the Democrats themselves who are in fact the practicing Patricians.
Therefore, I don't believe that a Populist is of necessity a Liberal. I believe the best real solutions for Populist concerns are Conservative solutions; with both control and responsibility for outcomes shifting away from the Federal Government and toward the State, Local and Family.
It is my perception that Mike Huckabee shares this belief. I also think Huckabee is actually trying to avoid "Identity Politics" by way of not wanting to run on the "I'm the Reagan Conservative" identity.
Huckabee seems to be trying to lead other Populists to Conservative (or more specifically Federalist) solutions, without specifically beating the Conservative drum, and therefore not immediately turning off those who have already fallen prey to the Conservative=Patrician myth. Even so, he needs to be more up-front and clear about his conservative solutions, whether or not he labels them as such.
One thing Mike Huckabee must realize is that those of us who are primarily Conservatives will be watching him closely, to make sure doesn't let his Populist good-intentions pave the road to Liberal perdition.
As for me, his Populism is not as relevant as whether he uses it to pave the road toward (at least 80%) Conservatism. No matter what some think about Family Values Voters (who the MSM labels "Evangelicals"), we would absolutely not become "left-leaning kool-aid-drinkers".
Rather, we should understand that it's possible for a "Christian conservative" to be a "right-leaning Populist". And with in the case of Mike Huckabee, it seems not only possible, but a reality.