The Trail: A Daily Diary of Campaign 2008


Dan Balz's Take

Huckabee's Rise and Rise

Huckabee, the December surprise. (Reuters).

The most surprising conversations running through Republican circles this week are all about Mike Huckabee. As one veteran strategist put it in an e-mail message Monday morning, "I -- and I would suggest damn few others -- never anticipated you even asking [about Huckabee] this late in 2007."

Huckabee's rise is real, the result of months of dissatisfaction on the right with the rest of the Republican field. His success in Iowa, where he has dislodged Mitt Romney atop the polls, and in other early states, represents what another strategist calls "the revenge of the social conservative" wing of the party.

"It's the night before the prom," this strategist said, "and they've been sitting by the phone for a year, waiting for a date." Huckabee has come calling and they are responding.

Huckabee's rise is real for a second reason. He fills another vacuum in the Republican field -- which is that of a strong, southern conservative candidate. In 2005 and 2006, that role was to be filled by Bill Frist, the former Senate majority leader from Tennessee, or former Virginia senator George Allen. Fred Thompson thought he would be that candidate, and for several months last summer he was -- until he entered the race.

Thompson's campaign has fizzled from lack of energy, lack of a clear message and lack of visibility. It is no accident that Huckabee's rise has come at Thompson's expense, but to succeed, strategists say, Huckabee cannot allow Thompson back into the competition anywhere.

The big question is not whether Huckabee is real but whether he can make it all the way to the nomination. Will he ultimately prove to be a skillful spoiler, or a candidate with broad enough appeal to unify a party that is badly fractured?

The person most immediately threatened by Huckabee's rise is Romney and there should be clear concern among his advisers about whether he can regain his footing in Iowa quickly enough to prevent a potentially costly defeat there in just over three weeks.

Matt Rhoades, Romney's communications director, described Huckabee as a real threat now to win the nomination. But he offered this caveat: "Huckabee is leading in Iowa and with that lead comes much higher expectations and a greater degree of scrutiny of his weak position on immigration and his penchant for big spending and higher taxes."

Huckabee's path to the nomination begins with a victory in Iowa. Then he must capitalize on his southern roots in the South Carolina and Florida primaries in January. He also must hope that the Republican race remains a multi-candidate field through Feb. 5, when nearly two dozen states will hold contests.

Most strategists do not believe Huckabee is a good fit with New Hampshire's more socially liberal GOP electorate and therefore may not do well there even if he wins Iowa. But they agree that other candidates -- Romney, Rudy Giuliani and John McCain -- will have much more at stake in the Granite State if the Arkansan comes out of Iowa victorious.

An adviser to one of the other GOP candidates put it this way in an e-mail message, "I think he can just watch to see if others stumble in New Hampshire or Michigan. Then he goes into South Carolina strong and tries to win there, setting up a shot to win Florida [on Jan. 29], maybe with a one-on-one with Rudy if it broke right for him. Then on February 5th, he tries to win regionally -- his home state plus Tennessee, Alabama and Georgia, and maybe Missouri."

As Rhoades points out, however, Huckabee faced no serious scrutiny until about two weeks ago. He spent much of last week dealing with several potentially serious controversies. One involves a statement on a candidate questionnaire in 1992 in which he advocated quarantining AIDS patients. Another involves his role in the release of convicted rapist Wayne DuMond, who killed a Missouri woman after being let out of prison.

A strategist with a stake in the GOP nomination battle put it this way: "He is enjoying something akin to an announcement bounce right now. Until the past week, he has enjoyed mostly positive press and had seen almost no attacks from opponents. And he has faced almost no tough debate questions, allowing him to stay affable throughout."

The candidates with the most to gain in the short term from Huckabee's surge are Giuliani and John McCain. They could use his help in stopping the better-financed Romney because neither has been particularly successful in doing so over the past 11 months. McCain saw Romney as his principal threat when McCain was the presumed front-runner. Giuliani's campaign assumed the same once McCain faded over the summer.

"Huckabee may well advance to the nomination finals," said John Weaver, who was McCain's chief strategists until they had a parting of the ways last summer, "and in doing so accomplish something neither Rudy or McCain could do: eliminate Romney."

Giuliani and Huckabee are odd bedfellows in the race. Giuliani is out of sync with the social and religious conservatives in the GOP over abortion, gay rights and a messy personal life. Huckabee is out of sync with some economic conservatives over taxes and trade, and is softer on immigration than some of his rivals. As one strategist said Monday, Huckabee is "as unconventional to the Reagan coalition on those issues as some of the other candidates are on social issues."

But Matthew Dowd, who was chief strategist for President Bush's reelection campaign in 2004 and has now signed up with ABC News as a political commentator, believes Huckabee is doing well now for the same reason Giuliani has managed to lead most national polls of Republicans despite his views on abortion and gay rights.

"The biggest thing he's got going is the sense of authenticity that surrounds him," Dowd said. "That is the contrast [between him and Romney right now] in Iowa.

"Voters vote broader values. They don't vote issues," he added. Rather than looking for a candidate who lines up with them on every issue, they want a candidate who seems real. "McCain's biggest problem was that he lost a huge part of that authenticity and that brand. It wasn't as if Iraq hurt him. It was that Iraq seemed to represent a loss of his authenticity."

Huckabee, like Giuliani, benefits from the multi-candidate race on the Republican side. His support among Christian conservatives appears solid, but his appeal beyond that constituency appears far more limited. If and when the race narrows to two finalists, the question is whether he will be among them, and if he is, whether he can significantly expand his appeal to other parts of the party. In any case, he remains the surprise story in the still surprising GOP campaign.

--Dan Balz

Posted at 3:10 PM ET on Dec 10, 2007  | Category:  Dan Balz's Take
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Please email us to report offensive comments.

elbeau: Please find something better to do then to clog up this site with your continuous rants.
lounderbel: Sounds like you have some major anger issues, please seek help.

Mike Huckabee has convictions about what he believes and he stands behind what he believes. Is he always right, no, but no one is. Look at his record and what he believes and make a decision based on that, and not what some hatful people say about him.

Posted by: cward | December 21, 2007 2:20 PM

Very well said.

Posted by: elbeau | December 11, 2007 11:20 AM

First of all I'm gay and have been living with HIV for almost 20yrs. I have dozens of friend and have been in several relationships that have never resulted in cross infection. I find this degree of ignorance and dinosaurs like Huckadumb very dangerous. I believe the NAZIS did similar things with their gay population before they shipped them off to the concentration camps and incinerated alive...nice! Huckadumb doesn't believe in evolution, thinks the world is 5000 yr/old, he refer to a virus as a plague brought down on us by his God and is fearful of gays to the point of looking and sounded like a ignorant redneck. We would all by dead by now if Huckadumb was even remotely accurate about how the virus is spread in the first place. If what he said only 15yrs ago during the Ryan White fight to go to public school and while Magic Johnson continued to play professional basketball while openly being HIV positive and not one player, his children, and his wife ever became leprous. No one actually believes that he wouldn't have known that back in 1985 HIV/AIDS was clearly not transmitted by casual contact. The Republican Surgeon General said so. Perhaps in the Republican mind-set this type of gay bashing is still mode? I think that stupid statements like this prove that there is something wrong with them and that they have a type of "foot in mouth" disease of their own, and that Huckadumb and is kind should be quarantined and sterilized so not to populate the world with anymore jackasses like him.

Posted by: lounderbel | December 11, 2007 11:08 AM

Huckabee is your standard dirty politician who's entire campaign is based on the fact that the other social conservative in the race belongs to a religion that the base finds less trustworthy than his.

I'm a Mormon. I've supported the big "W" during both his terms. I have no problem with protestants. I have a HUGE problem when a potential US president uses religion to undermine another candidate.

Your great "Christian Leader" is a major biggot and a corrupt politician who makes HillBillary look like the scandal-free conservative candidate.

Posted by: elbeau | December 11, 2007 9:53 AM

Huckabee on his pardons:

"Nobody is ever mad at you for turning one down," Huckabee told reporters Monday before a fundraising stop in University Park, Texas. "A whole lot of people are mad at you for ever signing one."

He says this as if he doesn't understand why the public doesn't like the fact that he makes our jury system meaningless. He pardons a new convicted criminal every 4 days.

"It seems to be true at least anecdotally that if a minister is involved, (Huckabee) seems likely to grant clemency," prosecutor Robert Herzfeld said in 2004 after successfully battling the then-governor over the release of a killer.

Bill Clinton, Frank White and Tucker granted a TOTAL of 507 clemencies in the 17 1/2 years they served as governor.

Whitewater figure David Hale, a government witness in the trial that forced Gov. Jim Guy Tucker's resignation and let Huckabee ascend to the office, was pardoned after being sentenced to 21 days in a state insurance case. Huckabee complained it would cost too much to hold him. The price tag: $1,200.

Posted by: elbeau | December 11, 2007 9:44 AM

Huckabee needs to come clean on why he had to destroy State of Arkansas hard drives that held his records (and about the law suit he now faces on that). He also needs to come clean on why he sponsored free tutition at Arkansas colleges for illegal aliens. He also needs to come clean on why the Club for Growth has made this statement "By the end of his ten-year tenure, Governor Huckabee was responsible for a 37% higher sales tax in Arkansas, 16% higher motor fuel taxes, and 103% higher cigarette taxes according to Americans for Tax Reform (01/07/07), garnering a lifetime grade of D from the free-market Cato Institute. While he is on record supporting making the Bush tax cuts permanent, he joined Democrats in criticizing the Republican Party for tilting its tax policies "toward the people at the top end of the economic scale" (Washington Examiner 09/13/06), even though objective evidence demonstrates that the Bush tax cuts have actually shifted the tax burden to higher income taxpayers." In other words, there is not enough soap for an Arkansas politican whether it be Huckabee or Clinton.

Posted by: SkitheRockies | December 11, 2007 9:38 AM

"Since the other candidates don''t have anything to say on what they can do for America, they take the easy road and resort to taking cheap shots at Mike."

Nice props for Huckster, but pretty nieve. Here's my "Cheap Shots":

Huckabee Pardons: 1033 (That might be a new world record!)

Huckabee's financial answer for Arkansas: Raise Taxes!

Huckabee's answer for illegal immigration: Give illegals scholarships!

Huckabee's biggest lie so far: "I didn't pressure the parole board - Everybody else is lying"

But don't worry, he's a "Christian Leader" who will "take this country back for Christ". THAT'S HIS ENTIRE PLATFORM!

He's not going to eliminate the IRS, he'll propose his tax changes and they won't pass.

His proposals for alternative fuels are neither unique to him or new.

"New programs that prevent diseases"? Is he a doctor or something I don't know about?...or perhaps he's going to wave his hands and cure America....these are meaningless talking points.

Now I say all these things after being a Huckabee supporter for quite a while. I thought he would surge like he is doing. He came across as honest and forthright. What I cannot do is vote for somebody whose entire campaign is based on becoming a "Christian Leader"...subtly reminding his evangelical base that his religion is much safer than his opponent's and telling the media that Romney needs to explain his Mormonism.

I've voted Republican all my life, but I'll vote for Hillbillary before I vote for Huckabee.

Posted by: elbeau | December 11, 2007 9:33 AM

Mike Huckabee facts:

1. He will Eliminate the IRS:
This means you will receive 100% of your paycheck.

2. He will drastically reduce Gas prices:
Switch to alternative fuels, changing supply/demand.

3. He will reduce global warming.
Switch to alternative fuels, no carbon dioxides.

4. He will reduce threat of terrorism.
New fuels cause middle east gov. crack down on them.

5. He will reduce rising Health care costs.
New programs that prevent diseases, not just fix them.

6. He will lead up not just hard right or hard left.
Excellent communicator, will bring parties together.

7. He will lead with principles rather than money.
He cares everybody not just those on Wall Street.

8. He will give Hope to America and enthusiasm.
He plays bass guitar in a band, dynamic personality.

9. He will carry out his goals, not talk about them.
Lost 110 pounds, kept it off, ran 4 Marathons-26.2m

10. He knows the American people is the real boss.
As Governor, his picture frame only shows citizens.

Vote for Mike Huckabee, otherwise you will not be able to enjoy these benefits

Since the other candidates don''t have anything to say on what they can do for America, they take the easy road and resort to taking cheap shots at Mike. Don't fall into their trap any longer with negative attacks, let''s show the critics and the naysayers that Americans have pride and we are ready to elect an honest, humble, trustworthy man for US President.

Posted by: vote4mikehuckabee | December 11, 2007 7:00 AM

Huck's rise could only mean one thing - that the sheep have heard the shepherd's voice, and they are starting to gather and march. I felt this the first time I heard the man speak. Such old-time clarity of conscience! They were slow to hear from shutting out years of deafening noise. Their joy at dicovering him will carry them over the meadows all the way to the white house. America will gaze on in utter bewilderment. What a great country this is after all.

Posted by: joyo8729 | December 11, 2007 2:21 AM

We need to think of who has been a good leader to find who will be a good leader. They have all made mistakes, so we can forget about pointing out this mistake or that. Most senators or congressmen do not have a lot of real executive experience. That leaves a couple of governors and mayor. In my opinion, I'll take the one that has been extremely successful in the business field, led a major turn-around in a world class venue, and worked in a very liberal state as a conservative, but managed to get along well enough to actually get things done. Bain capitol, Winter Olympics, and Mass. gov't sound like good training grounds to me. Religion or not, Mitt is the person most fit to lead our country, not just on the republican side, but overall!

Posted by: brysansdaddy | December 11, 2007 2:20 AM

Huckabee's 20 Million dollars worth of free advertising from the mainstream media has the dems salivating--here is a guy they can beat and beat bad.

Huckabee has so many skeletons in his closet the bowling ball has moved out for lack of room. Multiple campaign finance violations, theft from the governor's mansion of everything not tacked down and nixonlike destruction of computer harddrives. The press will prop him up in the primary and devour them in the general with these stories--it will be ugly b

Huckabee is charming but lacks substance, solid leadership and conservative credentials.

Posted by: DanLounsbury | December 11, 2007 1:42 AM


Posted by: BOBSTERII | December 10, 2007 11:50 PM

i love the fact that we have a true believer in christ running for prez. maybe thats what this country needs, been a long time coming..everyone is forgetting that it is the most important aspect of our nation..

Posted by: lonestarbeauty21 | December 10, 2007 11:49 PM

In 1998 Huck signed an ad in the New York times wich admonished women to submit to their husbands and to act as a servant to them. Can you imagine how that will play if he ever runs against Hillary?

Republicans would be the laughing stock. Add that to his comments on HIV and homesexuality and Republicans will earn the title of male-chauvenist bigots.

Posted by: shreid3 | December 10, 2007 11:36 PM

The thing I cannot take about Huckabee is the way he tried to fend off criticism and stop debate by trumping with a morality card, as when he said in the debate that ARE A BETER COUNTRY THAN THAT". That suposedly justifies him spending the money of Arkansas taxpayers for scholarships for Mexicans, hardly what he was elected for.
Philosophicaly, there is a limit to the microscopic exam we give people on issues. To some extent that reflects one's views of what we are eleting. Ar we electing kings to rule a they se fit or are we looking for public servants to represent us? I am more interestd in the later, so I don't mind that McCain ses the light on the border or that Romney recognized that the Republican party is pro life. The most questionable character is Guilani who is so full of himself that he bucks the teaching of both his church and his party on abortion. I wouldn't expect him to answer our cals.

Posted by: clairesolt | December 10, 2007 11:17 PM

It seems that those on the far left who hate religion and on the far right who love greed will do anything to destroy the candidacy of Mike Huckabee. The fact is that he is on record as saying that parts of the Bible are allegorical and that God could have chosen whatever period of time he wanted in which to create the world. Yet you hear over and over again false statements about his views on the creation. Conversely, others try to paint him as a tax-and-spend liberal, but fail to mention that the national average increase in state taxes during the time he was governor was double that which occurred in his state of Arkansas. Fortunately, an increasing number of people are seeing through those ploys, and just want to know who will do the best job of reforming and managing the Federal government. I believe that person is Mike Huckabee.

Posted by: Andersod7 | December 10, 2007 11:14 PM

Mike Huckabee is a Southern populist in the mold of Jimmy Carter. The only difference is that he has more charm and wit. He is also left to center. he is not a conservative in the area of immigration, taxes and crime. Foreign policy and terrorism aren't even on his radar. I think it's great that he's a Christian but I will note vote for him on that basis in the primary and no one else should either. His religion should not even be a topic of discussion. If he is the Republican nominee I will consider him, but there won't be much difference between him and Hillary/Obama. I may just stay home.

Posted by: the_higger | December 10, 2007 10:52 PM

"Don't Chuck (or "Shuck") The Huck," people! He's rising like Obama; too bad they can't team up! Seriously, "Herr Rudy" needs a "rug" to compensate for his "lost" armband while many are put off by what's perceived to be behind the "Wives for Romney" campaign. Fred "Elmer Fudd" Thompson had better hope the Hollywood writers strike ends. (He needs a "rug" badly, too.) Ron Paul changing his name to Paul Ron won't help while Tom Tancrudo has been cut off since a mysterious wall was built around his compound.

Posted by: filoporquequilo | December 10, 2007 10:24 PM

ahh, reformed Egyptian, not Enochian. My bad.

Posted by: rickyrab | December 10, 2007 10:10 PM

There's another great conflict going on - the Mormon vs. Evangelical rivalry. Both religions have a Christian heart, and both espouse family friendly, office-wear conservatism politically, yet both have very different theological, historical, and religious (not to mention artistic) outlooks. Mormonism is centered in the Americas, which is the setting of their "Book of Mormon" (and of the idea that Native Americans had once been Christians before Columbus but "fell from grace", so to speak), while the Evangelicials look up to more traditional heritages such as Europe and the ancient Near East. And that's just ONE of the many differences...would you like some Urim and Thummim with that to read some Enochian? :)

Posted by: rickyrab | December 10, 2007 10:01 PM

For some time now, there has been a crying need for a right populism. A party that will combine social conservatism with the well founded scepticism that the American people have of "free trade". After seven years of outsourcing, offshoring and free trade globalist "wage restraint" we have yet to see all those better jobs the free traders assured us would replace the manufacturing jobs lost.

Mike Huckabee is the only Republican candidate who does not respond to the well founded socioeconomic fears of most Americans in a glutted global labor market that is exerting massive downwards pressure on wages with sneering recitations of GNP and productivity statistics. He is the only Republican not boasting about a "Bush Boom" to people who have seen seven years of stagnant or declining real wages. Once upon a time Ronald Reagan asked "Are you better off now than you were four years ago ?" Huckabee is the only Republican who recognizes that for most Americans the answer is "no".

This article and so many on this thread are ignoring this and trying to pigeonhole Mike Huckabee as the new Pat Robertson with an appeal limited to the Evangelical Right. It goes much further than that. His combination of social conservatism and economic populism precisely matches the cultural values and socioeconomic interests of working class and lower middle class Americans, people who have been losing ground socially and culturally for several decades now. He is the only candidate who speaks for "nickel and dimed" America. People who have been getting the short end of the stick for quite a while from a GOP that only cares about free trade globalist elites and a Democratic Party that has only cared about secularist cultural elites. People who really could not care less what Beltway pundits or elites think and do not find his fundamentalist Christianity as shocking as they do. It is this "listening to the ignored" quality of his that fuels the passionate intensity of campaign, a passion that no other candidate on either side can match.

A social conservative and economic populist GOP would also correspond to the values and interests of minority voters. I see Huckabee as GOP candidate getting a whole lot more Black votes than Republicans are used to.

No one is noticing the collapse in public support for libertarian economics. Huckabee has. And the realignment that will ensue from this.

Posted by: koremori | December 10, 2007 9:55 PM

I think the True Conservative should win the Republican nomination. And by Gosh, if I were a Republican, that's who I'd vote for and the only one I'd vote for! I don't care if he's divorced, a family man, preacher, lawyer, actor, military hero, how he feels about Jesus, Mormons, Islamoterrorists, or any other kind of Christian, if he do or don't like illegal immigrants and the people who employ them and wants a big wooden fence or an electric one, whether he's rich or just plain wealthy or don't talk about his money, you name it, that's who I'd be supporting all the way.

But I'm not.

Posted by: donaldmatson1 | December 10, 2007 9:49 PM

With America's first-past-the-post system, we wound up with two major political parties. The upshot of this is that, of course, people of various political stripes and agendas wind up sharing the same party with each other. I see here that the religious and social conservatives and the so called "fiscal conservatives", along with some libertarians, are sharing the same party (the GOP). This can make for some pretty interesting Republican primaries in some years....

Posted by: rickyrab | December 10, 2007 9:49 PM

My prediction: Huckabee's rise will result in the need for a brokered Republican convention in St. Paul next year. Ron Paul will split off and run as an Independent. The Democrats, Republicans and Independents will split the national vote about evenly and the election will go to the House of Representatives for a decision.

Posted by: harry459 | December 10, 2007 9:43 PM

Are you kidding me "truehawk"? Try chickenhawk. Dems can't wait to get all over this guy. He set free a rapist who went on to rape and murder two more times. And guess what? He did it because he thought Clinton screwed him over. He let off a rapist-murderer because of politics. You all rethugs just let that sink in a little more.

Soft on crime my @$$. Republicans let off rapist murderers and have sex with underage boys.

Posted by: elroy1 | December 10, 2007 9:29 PM

The Huckster and the Mittster, way to go GOP, two schmucks and one truly nutty wing-nut (Hello, Rudy)...guess the Republican party has a real death wish...then there's John McCain who appears to have been embalmed recently...

Posted by: Jerryvov | December 10, 2007 9:23 PM

A baptist minister for president? Why thats as funny as an actor for president. Oops.

I will admit in public that I have no ambition to see a theologian serve as president. While there is no exacting comparison to religious islamic leaders in say, Sudan, Saudi Arabia, Iran, etc, to those that would serve in the United States, the prospect of one scares the wits out of me. Notice I did not say hell out of me. Yes, I am an atheist. But before you go, "Well, there you have it!", let me say that it has nothing to do with a belief in G_d or not. It has to do with the way people of faith tend to look at those either without it or of a different faith. At the very least, all atheists are alike but one cannot say that about all religious, G_d loving or G_d fearing people. (G_d=respect for your beliefs). People of G_d seem to possess self-righteousness because they follow a religious tenet and dogma that makes them that way by default. I don't think they can help it. At least I have never meet any devout believers who don't look at me with some sort of pity or disdain or a combination of both. Even my own brother whom I would never have thought would embrace the concept of G_d does so as to affirm the very reason for his/our existence, that without it, there can be no meaning. So be it.

But with the rhetoric of religion and the belief in G_D comes the inevitable,
"I get my wisdom and guidance from G_D". And that is the scary part. How many people have been convicted of violent crimes and declared that G_d made them do it? Don't we find these people really sick? And given the fact that history is replete with scriptural stories of G_d talking to man, man talking and praying to G_d, isn't it a bit disingenuous to be condemning people who believe G_d is talking to them? Isn't that the fervent hope and manifestation of faith of all G_d loving beings for G_d to select them for speaking directly to? If they get their wisdom and guidance from G_d, just how did they get it? I would like to ask anyone running for president if G_D has spoken to them directly. How would you feel about that if their answer was unequivocally yes? What if it was no?

Be it as it may that most laws in western society are derived in principle from biblical and religious doctrine, our government can not be administered from a position of theology. I don't mind if leaders believe in G_d; actually, I really do, but I am tolerant enough for now to accept this as the norm in this society; I just don't want to feel that the basis for their important decisions stem from conversations with G_d or church leaders or reference to the holy scripture. I/we have already been the recipient of a great dose of this from G. W. Bush.

Mike Huckabee frightens me for these reasons. He pardons on advice of minions of the church. What ever qualities he may possess outside of this-wait, there are no qualities outside of this. He is defined by his religion. He is inescapably bound at the hip; it is the most fundamental part of his being that he is a man of G_d and faith and church. The closer we move to a theocracy, the more trouble we will get ourselves into. The sooner we wake up to the fact that critical and logical thinking will help us dig out of the quagmires we are in, the sooner we can all share a world of peace and joy.

Posted by: iralarry | December 10, 2007 9:11 PM

When deciding what a politician is like, please look at his record, not what he says. Huckabee is very talented at leaving the viewer feeling good after hearing him speak. However, his record speaks for itself. He is not a true believer when it comes to taxes. The tax burden in AR went way up (an avg of 45% per person) over his tenure as Governor. I support Fred Thompson.

Posted by: | December 10, 2007 9:02 PM

Presidential candidate Mike Huckabee is under fire for having urged a quarantine of HIV carriers. Huckabee 1992: 1) "Homosexuality is an aberrant, unnatural, and sinful lifestyle, and we now know it can pose a dangerous public health risk." 2) "We need to take steps that would isolate the carriers of this plague." 3) The government spent too much money on AIDS research compared to other diseases, so maybe "celebrities, such as Elizabeth Taylor, Madonna and others who are pushing for more AIDS funding" should sponsor the research instead. Huckabee 2007: 1) "There was still too much confusion about HIV transmission in those early years." 2) "My concern was safety first, political correctness last." 3) I now favor spending billions on AIDS relief. Rebuttals: 1) Actually, by 1992, "it was well established that the virus could not be spread through casual contact." 2) How could a disease be dangerous enough to quarantine but too frivolous for federally funded research? Fray Contest: Try explaining this as Huckabee's press secretary. (Related: HIV, condoms, and the Vatican; HIV, condoms, and prosecution; HIV and blood donations; HIV and microbicides; HIV and circumcision; HIV and anal sex.)


Posted by: WILLEM1 | December 10, 2007 8:06 PM

It's obvious the media were alarmed early on with the sudden rise and novelty of the outsider - Ron Paul.

They also knew Rudy, Romney and McCain offered no pretense to push Dr. Paul off the news pages. These three were front runners and had spent their novelty.

So the media hand-picked Huckabee to be the "underdog rising" story to drown out Ron Paul and keep him at bay.

The polls soon echo the media.

This is most obvious in Iowa with its entrenched and corrupt Republican leadership.

Posted by: resono1 | December 10, 2007 7:56 PM

American voters are beginning to realize why Arkansans (Republicans and Democrats alike) elected Mike Huckabee to be their Governor.

If you believe in Mike Huckabee's message, I urge you to take my challenge by visiting:

With your help, he will make a difference!

Posted by: WakeUpCall | December 10, 2007 7:49 PM

It's amusing how you Republicans, who's chief pleasure has always been in distorting the records of Democrats, are also showing an appetite for your own this season, and all because none of your candidates is extreme enough in his views on immigration, taxation, religious orthodoxy, war-mongering and gay bashing among a host of other issues.

I hope you get some of your frustration out at one another's expense, though I'm confident that you'll still be well able to muster enough bile to satisfy your appetite for swift-boating and assassinating the character of our Democratic candidate, once we have served her up to you.

Bon appetite!


Posted by: nkeul | December 10, 2007 7:49 PM


If he were intelligent, he would not be campaigning on a GOP platform. It's like Bush - no one but the GOP will have him.

Why the WaPo sees fit to sell this as intelligence - well, the WaPo's average I.Q. isn't what it used to be.

Posted by: wardropper | December 10, 2007 7:43 PM

"Candidate fills a vacuum in the GOP field -- a strong, southern conservative candidate"

What ARE you talking about, Dan?
For a start, "strong southern conservative" is an oxymoron.
And for seconds, the GOP IS a vacuum which no one on earth could ever fill.

The last thing we need is somebody from the WaPo desperately trying to convince us that is a GOOD thing.

Posted by: wardropper | December 10, 2007 7:37 PM

Huckabee has publicly stated that he believes that the age of the earth is somewhere around 6,000 years, depending on how one counts the begats in the Bible back to Genesis. For someone who is so willfully contemptuous of science to even be considered as a legitimate presidential candidate is an alarming indicator of just how irresponsible certain portions of the American electorate has become. To give him control of the world's largest stockpile of nuclear weapons might sound appealing to those that eagerly await the Apocalypse, and perhaps that is exactly what they seek in supporting Huckabee, a seemingly amiable fellow and a proven ignoramus.

Posted by: munkle | December 10, 2007 7:32 PM

The latest CNN poll has Huck rising nationally. He has an amazing ability to take all the "gotcha" questions and turn them around to his advantage. He is extremely intelligent and winsome as well. The Democrats dread facing him as his has pulled up to 40% of the African American vote in Arkansas elections, a remarkable thing for a Republican.

Posted by: TrueHawk | December 10, 2007 7:21 PM

The latest CNN poll has Huck rising nationally. He has an amazing ability to take all the "gotcha" questions and turn them around to his advantage. He is extremely intelligent and winsome as well. The Democrats dread facing him as his has pulled up to 40% of the African American vote in Arkansas elections, a remarkable thing for a Republican.

Posted by: TrueHawk | December 10, 2007 7:20 PM

Nobody has experience as being president unless they have been president. I think Huckabee is the only honest candidate for the Dems or Reps. We have to ask ourselves if we believe this guy is going to do the best job for the country. Not one person will satisfy 100% of the people. We know noone will get 100% of the votes. This guy is not perfect, but he offers some of the best solutions of anybody else. Everyone wants to talk about his tax hikes. Quit being lazy and do your own research and look at why the taxes were raised in Ark. Ask a truck driver why they went around Ark. He was forced to fix problems left by Dem Governors that preceded him. Why would he be wanted to throw out the IRS is he wanted to raise taxes. If you aren't for Huckabee, do some research. Not only on Huck, but could you imagine Teflon coated Romney or Slick Rudy being Prez?

Posted by: cawhite72_2000 | December 10, 2007 7:07 PM

Those who try to dismiss Huckabee as an intellectual lightweight, an affable but dim-witted Southern pastor who believes the world was literally created in six days, should be informed that he graduated from college magna cum laude in just two years. If you think his positions are not well thought through, think again. Given any chance at all by the corporate media who are scared to death of him, he will completely overshadow other Republican candidates in debate.

Posted by: Andersod7 | December 10, 2007 6:53 PM

American voters are starting to realize why Arkansans (Republicans and Democrats alike) elected Mike Huckabee to be their Governor.

If you believe in Mike Huckabee's message, I urge you to take my challenge and visit:

With your help, he will make a difference!

Posted by: WakeUpCall | December 10, 2007 6:42 PM

I am surprised at how ill-informed some of those commenting are concerning Mike Huckabee's record. I have lived in the state of Arkansas since 1993 (minus 2 years in China as a teacher) and several of you (like txindp) have grossly misrepresented Mike's record.
This is a Democratic state, and as a Republican he was able to pass major tax reforms and put our state in the black while transforming the worst roads in America and some of the worst schools into some of the best. We now boast some of the smoothest Interstates and our schools are doing better than many on the "No Child Left Behind" mandatory tests (despite the impossibilty of achieving those goals).
He has lowered taxes, eliminated the lines at the Dept of Motor Vehicles, and provided one of the best child health care systems in the country. And by the way, we still HAVE the death penalty in Arkansas, and Governor Huckabee signed all of those death-row inmates to their jury-appointed deaths.
He is a fiscal and moral conservative who can still work within a Democrat-controlled system to get things done. What other Republican candidate can you say can do that? And most important... he has beaten the Clinton political machine and will do so again!

Posted by: rickhutchinchina | December 10, 2007 6:30 PM

Many people disagree with Huckabee on socially conservative issues. However, they support him because of his stand on abolishing the IRS and instituting the Fair Tax. It will be interesting to see if other GOP (and Democratic) candidates adopt this policy issue also.

Posted by: jdmca | December 10, 2007 6:16 PM

I'm not sure why Huckabee's rise is considered all that surprising. I remember seeing one story over the summer in which Washington insiders -- i.e., campaign and political professionals -- ranked Huckabee as the most underrated candidate on the Republican side. Such a ranking makes sense given that he is a) from the South (unlike Romney), b) had been elected and then re-elected Governor of a southern state (unlike Thompson), and c) is not only socially conservative (unlike Guiliani), but also a Preacher.

Posted by: mikejd | December 10, 2007 6:10 PM

The MSM had a feeding frenzy about Gore's wardrobe and personal apprearance, but I guess because Huckabee's a Republican, they're giving him a pass on his ridiculous dyed black hair.

Posted by: checkered1 | December 10, 2007 6:07 PM

Here's a little more perspective on this pardon thing:

Huckabee averaged one pardon for every 4 days in office! Wow! Either all the prosecutors in Arkansas are completely inept, or Huckabee is, because every 4 days it appears that someone is convicted so clearly wrongfully that the governor can see fit for a pardon.

What an insult to our legal system!

Posted by: elbeau | December 10, 2007 5:55 PM

"It's like people accept that he's a dolt as long as he's honest about it and cracks a joke. Ridiculous."

The current White House occupant demonstrates that this is all you need to be elected to command the most powerful nation on earth. Ridiculous indeed.

Posted by: melmark2 | December 10, 2007 5:52 PM

Not to beat on this point too much, but when it comes to the pardons you say "What experienced candidate hasn't made costly misjudgments?"

Misjudgements? 344.33 "misjudgements"?

That's called a CLEAR PATTERN of misjudgements.

Posted by: elbeau | December 10, 2007 5:45 PM

I think that rather than gain by this rise, Guiliani stands the most to lose. His stance on social issues is far more moderate than the other GOP candidates and Romney had, with some success, convinced the more socially-inclined voters to hold their noses while not backing a third-party candidate. However, now that Huckabee is moving strong, the social conservatives will be forced to chose between one of their own and one who does not share their positions, increasing significantly that Guiliani could win the nomination only to face a third-party challenger from within his own party.

Posted by: ctown_woody | December 10, 2007 5:43 PM

Good let's see:

We'll do a very complex equation here and divide 1033 by 3.

Huckabee: 344.33
Romney: 0

(Huckabee's ".33" pardon was the rapist who went on to murder - oh yeah, he didn't pardon him, he just applied pressure to get him released...oh yeah, he didn't apply pressure, everyone's lying but him)

Posted by: elbeau | December 10, 2007 5:41 PM

Perhaps one of the reasons Romney has so few pardons is because he has been in office only a third of the time that Huckabee has. Let's not elevate Romney to more than what he is. He is a single term governor of the nation's most liberal state. That's his only elected office ever. And he's losing not because Huckabee is "taking voters away," but because of his own inauthenticity. Romney reminds me of the fictional television ad character "Joe Isuzu" from the 80's. Slick, polished, and ready to tell you whatever you need to hear in order to close the deal.

Huckabee is the only candidate from either party who I've actually heard encourage voters to vote for other candidates if they don't like him. When defending his policy of supportin children of illegal immigrants who got good grades, he said that some people wouldn't like him for it and if that's the only issue they care about, they're welcome to vote for someone else.

What experienced candidate hasn't made costly misjudgments? Rudy? (ask the families of the hundreds of fire fighters in NYC who died because he didn't decide to upgrade the radios after being warned to do so in the wake of the 1993 WTC attack.

Posted by: thevaluesvoter | December 10, 2007 5:35 PM

I honestly used to be torn between Romney and Huckabee. Hucky seemed conservative and straightforward and positive.

Now, I need to admit some religious bias before I make my next statement. I'm Mormon.

What really drove me completely away from the Huckabee add is that he is running completely on the fact that the nation will agree that he's Christian. "Christian Leader" posted in big letters in a political add?...then today's statement that we need to "TAKE THIS NATION BACK FOR CHRIST"?

At a time when the media seems intent on making sure everyone knows that Mitt is Mormon and Mormons are different, Huckabee is running on the sole fact that he was a Protestant minister. This is exactly opposite of the religious litmus test the our founders paraphrase Romney.

Huckabee is fiscally liberal and is extremely soft on crime and immigration. His whole campaign is that he's Christian, and he's pushing that point because he knows he can exploit the fact that evangelicals are afraid to vote for a Mormon.

Posted by: elbeau | December 10, 2007 5:33 PM

Yes, Huckabee is a nice guy and he's disarming and likeable. He makes a great minister. But to think that he's going to be able to compete in a general election is just naive. Even with Congress doing little more than twiddling its thumbs, independents are leaning Democratic for 2008. You think a guy who wants to cure homosexuals, quarantine AIDS patients, and give scholarships to illegal immigrants is going to get the independent vote? Good lord, even Hillary would deny immigrants the opporunity to DRIVE, much less give them scholarships.
Get real. Huckabee is a disaster for Republicans in the general. Even a phony like Hillary or Edwards would wipe the floor with him.

Posted by: daviddshank | December 10, 2007 5:28 PM

Posted by: elbeau | December 10, 2007 5:24 PM

I will never vote for Mike Huckabee

1. His inexplicable push to release a convicted rapist (Wayne Dumond).

2. His family's looting of Arkansas's $60,000 mansion fund.

3. His destruction of the 100 hard drives belonging to top staff, just before he left office.

Posted by: sseedragon | December 10, 2007 5:24 PM

Here's one way Mitt's different from Huckabee:

Huckster: 1033 pardons
Romney: 0 pardons

Hucksters pardons include one man convicted in the Whitewater scandal and many, many personal friends, and friends of friends.

Many ministers also even bragged about how easy it was to get a pardon from Mikey. See the AP article from today, it's pretty revealing.

Posted by: elbeau | December 10, 2007 5:21 PM

Is Huckabee soft on immigration? NumbersUSA, a leading anti-immigration, group doesn't think so. They rank him about even with Thompson and well ahead of Romney, Giuliani, and McCain.

Posted by: gtb38 | December 10, 2007 5:18 PM

Tell me how Huckabee is different from Romney. Besides that he is Baptist and not Mormon. If the answer is that Romney is too slick or that Romney is a flipflopper, then I'll have to say that I sure am glad to not be a Republican. Because boy I would sure hate to have a good looking man who doesn't drink and doesn't smoke, has amazing integrity and is incredibly smart as President. I mean seriously who would want that, right? Romney was law review at Harvard Law School AND graduated in the top 5% at Harvard Business School - but who wants somebody too smart as President.

Posted by: morning135 | December 10, 2007 5:17 PM

I predicted Huckabee's assent more than a year ago.

Washington DC

Posted by: dherrsch | December 10, 2007 5:10 PM

Nanellen: I'm sorry, a "conservative with a heart"? Which of his compassionate views would you be eluding to? His desire to quarantine AIDS patients?

Posted by: dal80521 | December 10, 2007 5:03 PM

this idiot is nothing but a sideshow to keep ron paul out of the public arena. you malmadia only put forth who you want, guliani? hillary and this fool , when lil ole ronny pauly is right there saying inconvenient things about your masters.

Posted by: xtiml | December 10, 2007 5:03 PM

We love Mike Huckabee because he reminds us of Mr Rogers neighborhood, Unfortunately if we put Mr. Rogers at the head of any corporation like Microsoft, Google, or Apple,(not to mention The USA), it would fail (no matter how baptist he is.)

Posted by: adamrockworld | December 10, 2007 4:59 PM

I really like Mike Huckabee for his stand on the issues, and his can-do attitude. He doesn't just point out the things that have gone wrong, he's got suggestions for how to get things right. He's a candidate that Conservatives and Moderates can support. He's an idealist with a pragmatic side. A Conservative with a heart.

Posted by: Nanellen | December 10, 2007 4:57 PM

Finally a candidate the GOP can get behind. Not a person who is viewed as either a transvestite, a cultist or someone too old by the general public. I still have my reservations about the electability of a minister but I like Mike. He appears elloquent, inteligent and nonapologetic for past statements. His conservatism without fear platform is refreshing considering the same old fearmongering from the other candidates. So far no one comes even close in the genuineness Mike Huckabee portrays.

Posted by: mikeharkeyster | December 10, 2007 4:49 PM

You have got to be kidding me. All of this fawning over Huckabee is disturbing. He would be a disaster as a general election candidate. No fair taxer can win, he sounds like a bumbling fool on foreign policy, supports closing GITMO and limiting free trade while shunning international maritime law, he's soft on crime, pardoning every criminal with a pastor's endorsement, supports the kind of breaks for illegal immigrants that have been beckoning them here for years (though all of a sudden now he's tough on immigration with his new plan), and he has a Carter-esque way about him that assures he'll put his worldview above American interests. The press gave this guy a free ride for a month and made him look like a viable candidate to social conservatives desparate for someone they could get behind. Huckabee is not that guy! Vote for anyone else, Romney or McCain first, but even Rudy or Thompson, even Ron Paul, anyone would be better than Huckabee. I get that he's nice, but he's unqualified. It's like people accept that he's a dolt as long as he's honest about it and cracks a joke. Ridiculous.

Posted by: txindep | December 10, 2007 4:45 PM

Huckabee deplores the horizontal politics that tries to establish one's candidacy at the expense of others. He favors a vertical approach that describes how he would like to lift the country above where it is. This is a horse race only to the corporate media who want to spark controversy and attract viewers and readers. Much more is at stake. The media would be well apprised to discuss the issues and not search the gutter for tidbits that can knock off whoever is ahead at the moment. Huckabee did not get a free pass before, he was ignored, as shown by the time he got in the TV debates.

Posted by: Andersod7 | December 10, 2007 4:30 PM

Pastor Huckabee is a tax and spender who is pro illegal immigration and pro Iraqi war. He wants college tuition breaks for illegal aliens. He has pardoned or commuted the sentences of violent criminals at the behest of other Evangelical pastors in Arkansas. These criminals then went on to rape and kill again. He took every gift in office that he could find. He wants to continue spending $1 trillion a year on foreign adventurism. He has asked for isolation of all AIDs patients and does not recant it. He thinks that homosexuality is a disease. Some of those who know him said he lost the 100 pounds by having gastric bypass surgery. Yet he says you can lose 100 pounds fast through good living. Not sure this is the best candidate.

Posted by: washpost3 | December 10, 2007 4:29 PM

I almost feel the need to challenge the idea that Huckabee's rise is coming at Romney's expense. I realize that's the conventional wisdom, and I do agree that Romney stands to lose the most, but looking at poll data, it seems to me that it's not so much that Romney is losing voters as Huckabee is gaining them. If anything, poll data indicates that it's more the undecideds and the Thompson supporters changing their stride than the Romney supporters.

Posted by: Skip_Lively | December 10, 2007 4:23 PM

I think Mr Huckabee will make an excellent GOP presidential candidate. So authentic. So comfortable in his own skin. So disarmingly funny and charming. So genuinely manly. I bet he's even loyal, and knows his mind, and sticks with his decisions, made from the gut of course. How could he possibly not make a great president. Lord knows these are the qualities of historic presidents.

Posted by: zukermand | December 10, 2007 4:01 PM

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