Though he had long ties with the Duggar family, Mike Huckabee dumped them from his campaign website as it became clear Josh's scandals, crimes, and secrets weren't going away. For months, the Republican presidential hopeful and the reality TV stars have kept a quiet distance, neither promoting and defending, nor condemning and disavowing each other. Now though, it appears that the famous family is no longer political persona non grata, and Huckabee is partnering back up with them -- to sell a political DVD series.
When Josh Duggar's decade-old police record was first made public, Mike Huckabee defended him, but before long, the Duggar family's testimonials disappeared from Huckabee's presidential campaign website. At the time, Huckabee was only weeks into his presidential campaign, and the Duggar family was struggling to salvage their public persona and keep their reality show on the air.
Now, however, the Duggars are secure in the promise of new reality specials for their two married daughters, and Public Policy Polling places Huckabee firmly within the top ten Republican candidates. Clearly both parties feel more secure in their positions, and are ready to risk diving into a political effort -- and a financial one -- together again.
Mike Huckabee is co-founder of a company marketing a DVD series -- one of the sort that starts with a single "free" item, automatically subscribing the purchaser (because though it's free, you do pay $1 for shipping and processing) to future purchases. (According to the video's description, an animated Huckabee also makes a guest appearance in the free DVD.)
In this case, it's a political series. The company is Learn Our History, and the DVD proposes to teach kids how a president is elected -- with the rest of the series following to teach "historical fact without bias" as well as American pride.
What do they mean by 'without bias?'
According to the content description on the FAQ page, the videos "...recognize and celebrate faith, religion and the role of God in America's founding...," and "...correct the 'blame America first' attitude prevalent in today's teaching."
In other words, the videos definitely come from a conservative political and religious stance -- consistent with what one would expect Mike Huckabee and the Duggar family to sell.
How is the Duggar family involved?
On Thursday, they promoted the series on their Facebook page, using a unique URL that lets the site know a purchaser was referred by the Duggars -- a referral ID commonly used in order to give a sales partner a cut of the revenue and determine how much traffic is coming to a site through one referrer.
The unique referral URL does something more: it tells us that the Duggars aren't just sharing this link because they love the video and think their followers would also enjoy it. Instead, they are clearly official partners, enough so to get their own URL within the Learn Our History site.
The Duggar family, meanwhile, hasn't exactly escaped the taint of scandal -- since they were last openly connected to Mike Huckabee, it's been revealed that Josh had multiple accounts on a dating site devoted to cheating spouses, Jill Duggar has been accused of faking both her missionary trips and her midwife qualifications, and numerous corporations have promised not to sponsor the upcoming specials featuring her and her sister Jessa, or any other spin-off the family might eventually receive.
Between Josh's series of scandals and the accusations leveled against the sisters of misusing mission funds and generally being self-centered and unaware, the Duggars aren't exactly keeping a firm grip on their "family-friendly" branding. Still, they appear to be returning to television, and they're maintaining a certain loyal following.
The question remains: is the brand salvageable, or is partnering with the Duggar family Mike Huckabee's last-ditch effort at political suicide?