Huckabee's Religious Support in Iowa Grows
DES MOINES--Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee appears to have consolidated Christian conservative activists in Iowa who had not already signed up for former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney's campaign earlier this year, picking up the endorsements of dozens of pastors from the Hawkeye State today.
In a press conference in his Des Moines office, Huckabee not only accepted the support of many major religious activists in the state, including Chuck Hurley, who runs a conservative policy group here and had been one of Sen. Sam Brownback's top supporters before Brownback dropped out, but also the official backing of evangelical author Tim Lahaye and his wife Beverly, another influential conservative activist. The Lahayes had been quietly backing Huckabee for weeks, even helping organize a conference in Des Moines this week where the former Arkansas Governor was the only candidate who spoke.
"I urge all Christians...to go to your caucuses on Jan. 3 and vote for Mike Huckabee," Tim Lahaye declared, calling him "the most electable who shares our values."
Tim Lahaye, who has co-written a series of best-selling fictional novels about the coming end of the world," said the former governor would help "restore on nation's commitment to biblical values." Hurley was among several former Brownback activists who decided to back Huckabee, even though Brownback himself endorsed Sen. John McCain and has been campaigning for him.
The support comes after a recent poll showing Huckabee with an advantage over Romney here, in part because of his strong backing among evangelical Christians, who are expected to comprise more than a third of the GOP caucus-goers. The question now will be if these religious leaders can help Huckabee turn out the vote here, as he has a fraction of the paid staff in Iowa that Romney has.
Romney himself is giving a speech on his Mormon faith on Thursday, but the address was not prompted by Huckabee's rise, Romney's aides say.
In an event earlier in the day Huckabee had declined to answer when asked by reporters if Mormonism is a "cult," saying he preferred to speak about his own faith. He was asked by a reporter at the endorsement event about his views on intelligent design. He said how the origin of the world should be taught is a matter that should be determined by states and not the federal government, but offered his own thoughts.
"I believe in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth," he said to loud applause from the pastors.
--Perry Bacon Jr.
Washington Post editors
December 4, 2007; 7:54 PM ET
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