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Rollins: Huckabee Can Fill Reagan's Shoes

CONCORD, N.H. -- Mike Huckabee's low-budget, fast-moving campaign brought on some needed organizational muscle today in the form of Ed Rollins, the veteran political strategist for candidates including Ronald Reagan -- to whom he today compared his new client for his ability to communicate and connect with voters.

"Governor Huckabee has probably inspired me as much as Ronald Reagan did," Rollins said after being introduced by Huckabee at a press conference here. "I've looked a long time to find a candidate like that...A lot of people walk around talking about the Reagan days and the next Reagan. I was with the old Reagan and I can promise you that this man comes as close as anyone to filling those shoes."

Huckabee and Rollins both took pains to reassure the campaign's supporters that adding a heavyweight like Rollins to the team did not represent a betrayal of the grass-roots ethos that has helped Huckabee surge into the first tier of Republican contenders with far less money than his rivals. "This is not to say that we're not extremely grateful for the people who've gotten us here so far," said Huckabee. The campaign, added Rollins, is trying to build a national organization "so that once this momentum moves forward we won't be sunk by a lack of infrastructure."

Rollins said the campaign was definitely going to compete in the New Hampshire primary, despite faring much worse in the polls here than in Iowa, which has a far larger contingent of socially conservative voters, a natural target for Huckabee, a former Baptist preacher. Rollins said New Hampshire nonetheless held potential for Huckabee because he does so well at the kind of retail politicking that the primary requires. "We're going to be full bore here," he said.

Rollins also played down the campaign's financial disadvantage, saying that it was benefiting greatly from the free media coverage of Huckabee's surge and that none of the other GOP candidates have raised anywhere near as much money as they had expected to, not counting the self-funding of Mitt Romney, who Rollins said "was born rich, and became richer."

The pairing of Huckabee and Rollins makes for somewhat of an odd couple, between an evangelical, small-state governor famous for his dramatic weight loss and a rotund, gruff strategist well-versed in political street-fighting (in 1994, Rollins had to apologize after claiming he had helped Christie Todd Whitman win her race for New Jersey governor by paying off African-American ministers to suppress the black vote.)

Rollins acknowledged the unlikely pairing. "It's a unique campaign for me," he quipped. "There's no donuts and no booze."

Injecting another twist to the scene was the presence of TV strongman Chuck Norris, who is campaigning with Huckabee in New Hampshire. Asked at the event's close what his favorite Chuck Norris joke was, the bearded tough guy didn't hesitate: "They wanted to put Chuck Norris on Mt. Rushmore, but the granite wasn't tough enough for his beard."

--Alec MacGillis

By Washington Post editors  |  December 14, 2007; 4:26 PM ET
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Huckabee is a liar. He's been claiming to have a degree in theology when he hasn't.

He is a perfect example of what the Bible warns us about.

Posted by: rockyjc | December 14, 2007 11:47 PM | Report abuse

Ed Rollins is a master at campain strategy. This guy knows what he is doing. It's not by luck that Ronald Regan won all but one state out of 50.

With Mike Huckabee skyrocketing in the polls and now picking up Ed Rollins, his HUCKABUS is going to go from HUCKABOOM to HUCKABAMBOOM!!!

I can see a movie in the making here, Mike Huckabee coming out of no where sprinting pass the competition like they were stuck on honey.

This is an incrediable success story in the making. You are going to see everybody and their brother wanting the rights to make this movie about Mike Huckabee's charismatic success.

Look out world, America is back in the running! Mike Huckabee is going to steer this big ship of ours and he has the masses supporting him. Just as a rockband of supporters cheering on Mike now... GO MIKE GO, GO MIKE GO, GO MIKE GO!!!!!

With Mike's super ability to connect with people, he will connect with national leaders. The Earth will shift, I can hear the rutters start to grind and turn now, an amazing amount of force is coming.

The evil terrorist will be stomped on like a pancake, the poor will become richer, the sick will become healther, the economy will become brighter. This is an amazing historical time for America on the horizon.

Don't lose this opportunity, let's rally behind Mike Huckabee. Tell all your friends and family about him. Go vote for him. Be a part of the success story to pass on to generations that you were part of the making of this historic success. He's depending on you.

Skyrocketing polls from HUCKABOOM to now HUCKBABOOM!!! Let's raise the bar one more time again and let the light shine!!!

Posted by: vote4mikehuckabee | December 14, 2007 10:58 PM | Report abuse

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