The Trail: A Daily Diary of Campaign 2008


In Atlanta, Huckabee Courts the South

By Perry Bacon Jr.
ATLANTA -- Targeting the South and Midwest in advance of the 21-state Feb. 5 GOP primary day, former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee called for a constitutional amendment banning abortion at a rally on the steps of the Capitol here, saying simply overturing Roe v. Wade would not be enough.

"This is not a political issue, it is a moral issue," he told more than 300 people on this cold, rainy day. The event was put on by Georgia Right to Life, a antiabortion rights group whose political action committee has endorsed Huckabee, even though the National Right to Life backed former Tennessee senator Fred Thompson. "There cannot be a geographical distinction when it comes down to something that is either right or wrong. Abraham Lincoln said over 100 years ago that if slavery is not wrong, nothing is wrong. And, ladies and gentlemen, let us say it, today it is wrong to take the life of an unborn child."

On the 35th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision that invalidated abortion bans, the former governor repeated his support for ending abortion through a constitutional amendment, a position that divides his top rivals for the GOP nomination. Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney also backs it, but Arizona Sen. John McCain and former New York mayor Rudolph Giuliani do not.

Huckabee's trip here indicates a shift in strategy. While he plans to spend the weekend in Florida competing against his rivals for the GOP nomination, campaign chairman Ed Rollins said Huckabee will also make more stops in Georgia and potentially other Southern states even before Jan. 29, when Florida votes. While his rivals duke it out in Florida, Huckabee's campaign hopes he can become the Southern candidate in the race on Feb. 5, capturing wins on that mega-primary day in Tennessee, West Virginia and Alabama, along with his home state of Arkansas and neighboring Missouri. Rollins said the campaign would not run ads on broadcast television in Florida, but might instead air them in the other states.

"This is a four-way race," he emphasized when asked if Huckabee still had a chance at the nomination.

For Huckabee, the Georgia stop came as his campaign looked for ways to stay in the GOP nomination contest following defeat in South Carolina, where it had focused much of its time and resources. After his surprising win in Iowa, Huckabee lost the next three contested primaries, and has shown little ability to expand his support beyond a core of conservative evangelical Christians who have backed him.

With a decreasing number of reporters covering him, Huckabee, who has courted the press aggressively throughout his run to make up for his lack of money to pay for television commercials, decided to stop arranging transportation for the reporters following him (news organizations pay back the campaign for trips on buses and planes). Rollins said the campaign would spend time in Florida, even though they did not expect to win, just to remain in the storyline about the race.

Especially now that Thompson has left the race, Huckabee aides feel their candidate has a special appeal to the South in a field where Romney and Giuliani hail from the Northeast and McCain comes from the West. On the other hand, the winner from Florida will have momentum going into Feb. 5, and, if McCain is that winner, he could sweep the Southern states; even if McCain is upended in Florida, his emphasis on security issues could help him win in states like Georgia as he did in South Carolina.

"We're in a good position," Huckabee told reporters, noting he is second to Romney in delegates in the GOP race. Romney has 59, Huckabee 40, McCain 36 -- mainly because Huckabee's Iowa win brought more delegates than McCain's wins in South Carolina and New Hampshire.

To win, Huckabee will need to find ways to appeal to voters that go beyond shared views on faith and social issues. In his final campaign days in the Palmetto State, Huckabee emphasized his Southern roots and sought to use the kind of message of change that Romney adopted following Iowa.

But in his stop in Atlanta, Huckabee's audience was primarily composed of the social conservatives who have powered his bid, although he gave a nod to a group of religious voters who largely haven't backed him: Catholics.

"I want to say thanks to our brothers and sisters particularly in the Catholic Church, who were way ahead of some of us who are Baptists and other evangelicals, whose voices were louder and clearer and sooner," Huckabee said to applause. "And I thank them for the leadership that they have given to the voice of the pro-life movement across the world."

Posted at 5:02 PM ET on Jan 22, 2008
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I respectfully disagree - you know why? Because the current tax system obviously isn't working...

I really dislike when people rant and criticize ideas WITHOUT GIVING AN ALTERNATIVE... Show me an alternative plan that would light the economy...

For one, you made the point about Corporate Taxes -well yes, they are embedded. Meaning that Corporations don't actually PAY the corporate tax - they embed it into the price of their goods. So if you take away Corporate Taxation, then wouldn't the price of the good theoretically come down (because those embedded taxes would disappear)?

Combine this with the fact that income taxes would disappear - then people would have Their WHOLE PAY CHECK TO SPEND (meaning that when they get their check, there will be substantially more money in it). Couple this with the Fair Tax not punishing investing. What's wrong with the rich investing? Is that a bad thing? And what's to say that they'd stop buying - especially with the extra money coming in from their paychecks (which get absolutely beaten up by taxes the more you make). That's an assumption.

In any case, yeah, there may OR MAY NOT be an initial "psychological barrier" - but that still remains to be seen. What's to say that a middle class family won't be ELATED to see their entire pay checks come in the mail. Don't people first look at their own budget before they look at prices of goods?

And what's to say that the wealthy won't continue to buy buy buy - even know with less of their earned money taken away.

In any case, The middle class worker will still see more of his paycheck.

The price of goods SHOULD NOT go up substantially if corporate tax is eliminated (and if it does, then there's something wrong with that)... Why? Because that current 23 percent in taxes is embedded a big part because of that corporate tax.

We can argue about flaws - but the REAL POINT IS, show me a system that would make better sense - and a candidate that understands and promotes it.
The fact is, more candidates just talk talk talk about lowering taxes lowering taxes lowering taxes. That's basically just rhetoric - as ANYONE can just say "Let's Lower Taxes."

I'd rather have a guy who actually wholeheartedly backs a plan to take steps to fix this broken tax system of ours (and our sinking economy). Even if he can't get it initially passed as is - he at least is a guy who won't tell you what you wanna hear - he'll be pushing pushing pushing until something changes - even if it's a compromise.

That is the point. Go Huck!

Posted by: andrew | January 24, 2008 1:46 PM

Huckabee Supporters, you are being led down paths that won't benefit the "common man" or the nation.

Whether by design or unintentionally I'm not sure. Just one example to demonstrate: the "Fair Tax." The "Fair Tax" proposal just isn't fair and won't do what it says it will do.

First of all, it is not Fair. Wealthier individuals spend an increasingly lesser percentage of their increase on consumption (and more on investments). As the poor would be exempt, the burden of this tax falls squarely on the middle class. They will be paying the highest percentage of their increase on taxes as the middle class (at least in part by necessity) spends a larger percentage of their income/etc. on consumption than the wealthy.

Second, it would not stimulate the economy as touted. Who wants to buy products with a 23% tax attached? This is a huge psychological barrier, particularly once local and state consumption taxes are tagged on top. This would put BRAKES on the economy as it would punish spending.

Third, If he "gets rid of the IRS" (never gonna happen cause there is no way congress will go along, but even if theoretically possible), income and corporate taxes would go away. However, a 23%+ tax is ALREADY built in to the price of everything we buy in the form of passed on corporate taxes. Get rid of corporate and income taxes, have the wealthy pay a proportionally smaller percentage of their profits in taxes (as they spend lesser percentages on consumption), and experts have estimated that a national consumption tax would actually have to be over 60% to make up the difference!!!

There are multiple other flaws as well.

Bottom line, this is a plan that won't work. If enacted, it would benefit by far the ultra-elite the most. If Gov. Huckabee does realize this, than he is lying to you about being for the "common man." If he doesn't realize this... then how many other issues could he also be wrong about?

I believe Gov. Huckabee to be a good and descent individual. However, I just don't think that he is the man that our country needs leading this country right now.

Posted by: harrjaso2 | January 24, 2008 9:03 AM

Overwhelmed by their access to voters, the elite media talk show hosts are unknowing splitting the conservative vote, as they did with Gerald Ford, Bob Dole and Ross Perot, rather than allowing conservatives and moderates to naturally come together and elect a conservative candidate without the brain washing and negative slandering from the elite media talk show hosts.

As the talk hosts continue to mislead and split the conservative party votes the liberal candidates prepare to win.

Wake up conservatives; ignore "Rush" and the other "Rush" want-a-bees. Support Mike Huckabee for President and send a message that you have a brain, and say no thanks to their propaganda.

Posted by: d_shoup | January 23, 2008 11:56 PM

We are supporting Huckabee all the way to the White House.

We Like Mike!!

Huck vs. Hill . . . bring it!

Posted by: Phil6 | January 23, 2008 11:25 PM

To bilandot: That is one of the more eloquent statements I have ever read. Congratulations and God bless you.

Posted by: Andersod7 | January 23, 2008 10:42 PM

I agree pbr1... i've thought that all along!!!

Republicans are just too dang secular to realize that Huck would be the best shot at beating the Democrats.

I think Republicans are failing to look at the big picture...

Huckabee is by far the most likeable and POPULIST candidate. The only republican who has a chance at the national election is that who can win over people from the other party and from the independent base. Giuliani is not a conservative. Romney would NEVER have a shot against the Democrats - because he's a BIG BUSINESS REPUBLICAN (exactly what the country is weary of right now - especially in this time of recession). McCain isn't even widely likes amongst conservatives.

Huckabee would have a chance because he'd potentially get

1) The Bible Belt - southern conservatives.
2) Some cross overs - because he has a populist message, cares about the poor, unemployed, education and the ENVIRONMENT.
3) Independents, because he's a LIKEABLE, charming candidate. If someone doesn't think that's a factor, then tell me why George W. Bush got elected again? It sure wasn't about his record, i'll tell you that's for sure.
Not to mention, he's probably THE BEST communicator out of all the candidates across the board.
4) He's already run against Clinton backed Democrats in Arkansas - and beat them (in a very Democrat state might I add).
5) He got things done in a democratic state (despite the fact he's conservative) - meaning that he's a uniter. He got things done despite having a legislature that was mostly democrat. That's a very underrated thing that he did over there.
as a supporting example, look at our current president with this democratic legislature in Washington - he hasn't done anything good, has he? Huck has proved he can work with Democrats to get things DONE - that means ACTION, not just words.

He did it in Arkansas - he can do it in the White House!

Posted by: andrew | January 23, 2008 3:26 PM

Unlike Obama, we've not yet seen Huckabee come out whining about having to run against Romney with the Mormon church behind him, or McCain with the military, and presumably Wall Street behind him.

If Hillary wins the Democratic nomination, it may well be Huckabee who stands in the best position to challenge her.

After all, his conservative status is closer to populist politics, and he may be the only one not intimated by Hillary and husband, since they both come from the same states over the last 30 years.

Discounting Huckabee's effectiveness would be a mistake for the Republican Party, but for sure, whining about whining isn't yet a part of it.

Posted by: pbr1 | January 23, 2008 2:43 PM

First of all, I know this is the Washington Post, and they're probably not the biggest fans of Huckabee (not a surprise), but not only did they underestimate the number of people at the rally...

I just can't believe they'd actually write that Huckabee "sought to use the message of change that Romney adopted following Iowa" ... EARTH TO WASHINGTON POST - Huckabee has always been the CHANGE candidate in this Republican race. You're right that Romney ADOPTED that message - especially after he saw Huckabee win while Huck used a small fraction of the money that he did - but it's rarely publicized that he adopted that change message mostly from HUCKABEE.

From the very beginning, Huckabee emphasized CHANGE: closing the IRS and getting the Fair Tax running. That's a huge CHANGE.

Getting the Republican party to start paying more attention to the poor and the middle class - as well as education (which he improved in Arkasas might I add). That's a huge CHANGE.

Getting the Republican Party to start paying more attention to the environment. Huge CHANGE.

Advocates taking steps to dramatically decrease our dependence on Foreign Oil... huge CHANGE.

Getting the country to unite - and promote vertical politics (up and down, not left and right)... let's not forget that he was a Governor of a state in Arkanses that had a majority Democrat legislature... He worked with them, and they actually got things DONE in that State, not just talk - but action. That would be a huge change.

And amongst more things, he's the candidate that won Iowa and proved that you didn't need to personally be a multi-millionaire with a well-compensated political machine to challenge for the President of the United States. In other words, a NORMAL, EVERY DAY GUY raised in the lower middle class with a chance to be President. That is perhaps the biggest CHANGE...

To sum it up - CHANGE has been a message already there... Just because someone starts using the literal word: "change" - doesn't mean that 1) it wasn't an ideal emphasized already and 2) that someone who just started using the word actually believes in it!

Posted by: andrew | January 23, 2008 1:35 PM

We need to google Perry Bacon Jr. - this reporter and all write the editor about this misinformation campaign. This is the media machine choking out Governor Huckabee because they used him in Iowa to make the race interesting and now they are cutting him off and purposely under reporting his campaign. We need to dog the "reporters" and their editors for fair play and accuracy in reporting. We all knew this angle as casting him as a backwoods bible thumping smake handler is what the smug east coast intellectuals try to paint anyone from middle america who actually stands up for decency. The perverts have alot at stake in this election...they don't want a good communicator actually shining the light on what they are up to...they'll scatter like a bunch of cockroaches...but when Hillary gets elected their grab their rainbow flag and jam the streets. They are intent on corrupting the minds of our kids with their perverted poison. God can't bless america until america blesses God.

Posted by: timklly747 | January 23, 2008 3:03 AM

Governor Huckabee has 2 million dollars on hand. He is wisely budgeting it. Governor Huckabee is not a foolish gambler willing to put everything in one place.

All it takes for us to get a President that is for us people of the United States is to vote and get our friends to go vote with us.

The foolish and wasteful spending done by the other candidates to dis-credit Governor Huckabee doesn't make them a better choice. It makes them wasteful and careless.

We need someone who can budget and stand firm for what is right in America. The non-rich average guy and gal in America outnumber these rich power mongers 10,000 to one. All we have to do is go out and vote to make our voice heard.

Please, if you can donate to Mike Huckabee at is website even if it is only 10 bucks. Most of us have debit visa cards which are accepted. Lets unite together and make the choice for ourselves.

We need Mike!

Dan Campbell
Sgt., USMC

Posted by: marinepatriot | January 22, 2008 11:58 PM

Huckabee should be charged, tried, convicted, imprisoned in Guantanamo and waterboaded as a religious terrorist for enticing sedition to overthrow the Constitution of the United States in his crusade to negate the First Amendment and "take this nation back for Christ"

The Constitution supersedes the Bible as the law of the land. Changing it to neochristian standards is, by its very essence, unconstitutional.

Posted by: coloradodog | January 22, 2008 10:52 PM

America1's cut and paste racist rants clearly demonstrate that his mind is a cesspool of bigotry, ignorance, intolerance & misery!

Posted by: coloradodog | January 22, 2008 10:45 PM

american1 -

What a long, boring and stupid post. Kudos to you. You are a really angry fellow!

Posted by: bobmoses | January 22, 2008 9:55 PM

To "america1" who posted earlier: Please take a moment to access this website:
I believe you will come to realize that there is still hope for our great country. Mike Huckabee is a decent, honest, man who connects with millions of people of all denominations, race and creed. He is the only candidate, in this writer's opinion, who can lead us from the "brink" and rescue our country from those who have set our country on a self-destruct" mode. Mike is not a rich man; nor has he spent years and years in the Congress doing little. He has been given highest honors as a governor and has been praised by many, most recently endorsed by several black religious leaders! I am a high school teacher and I can tell you from first-hand experience that our younger people all across this country are literally crying out for guidance and leadership and nobody is listening! We need a leader with solid values/morals to stand as an example to our young people. We need a leader who has the gift of being able to communicate to all segments of our society. And we need a leader who demonstrates a compassion that we often do not see in government. That man is Mike Huckabee. We owe it to ourselves and to our great country to consider/vote for Mike!

Posted by: bilandot | January 22, 2008 9:33 PM

You report 300 when there were 3000 people there?! Unbelievably inane inaccurate press coverage! You, as the leader in the United States of journalism should post an apology.

Yes, bad, idiotic press coverage has finally neutralized Huckabee.

No, as every lead line likes to say He's not JUST a Baptist Preacher (with all its loney connotations for people of no faith): he's spent more time as governor than as pastor: 10.5 year. This means he has more executive experience than any other candidate running. Hmmm. . . . didn't hear that from the press.

You never hear the press say that Mitt Romney is a former Mormon missionary. But it's o.k. to say that Huckabee is a (JUST?!) a former Baptist minister.

Don't let the press simply dismiss him as one dimensional: they will never tell you that he ONLY won 45% of the IOWA EVANGELICAL VOTE. Yes, Iowa--who would have ever known from press coverage? What he did win was every other category especially scoring high among women (wisdom) and those earning less than $50,000 a year.

In SC he won 40% of the EVAN. vote--again--where is the coverage and complication? Couldn't have that. No. Keep it real simple (and inaccurate), press. And dismiss, perhaps even kill, what is the real (even better) Ronald Reagan of this era.

Posted by: wkstaven | January 22, 2008 9:03 PM

I went with 192 middle schoolers, 48 parents, and 15 faculty to this event numbering "over 300." Hmmmm. While "over 300" were there, 4,000-7,000 is a much more reasonable estimate. Or did your reporter leave the noon meeting at 11:15 before the crowd gathered? Biased reporting like this is what makes many of us distrust the press.

Posted by: labarrfamily | January 22, 2008 8:36 PM

Mike Huckabee truly understands that one man's floor is another man's ceiling. Mike Huckabee is nowhere near the campaign floor that he came from.

Go Huckabee, ALL THE WAY!

Posted by: d_shoup | January 22, 2008 8:24 PM

Gov. Huckabee seems to be sincere and natural in his delivery. Anyone who supported Fred Thompson should give Huckabee a serious look.

Posted by: cel1ery | January 22, 2008 8:22 PM

We are motivated and rallied behind Governor Huckabee more than ever!! Governor Huckabee takes the stand for precious human life, morals and conservative views. He re-budgeted his campaign for maximum potential instead of wasting more money like other candidates. Governor Huckabee shows he is continuing the strongest leadership!

We Like Mike!

I just donated another 100 bucks!
And its crazy, I have never donated to a candidate before! I think Governor Huckabee is worth our investment! Join me! This IS our country!

Dan Campbell
Sgt., USMC

Posted by: marinepatriot | January 22, 2008 7:33 PM

I, along with family and several friends were in attendance at the Together for Life Rally at which Mike Huckabee spoke.

To say that there were "more than 300" people at the rally is a gross understatement. Try upwards of 3,000. (This is a modest estimate)

Huckabee hit the nail on the head in regards to the abortion issue. It is a moral issue and I appreciate a candidate who is willing to take what many see as a politically unpopular stand and hold firm to his convictions.

At the rally we were reminded of Dr. Martin Luther King's words:
"Cowardice asks the question, 'Is it safe?' Expediency asks the question, 'Is it politic?' But conscience asks the question, 'Is it right?' And there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular but because conscience tells one it is right."

Posted by: buchanan7 | January 22, 2008 7:26 PM

We have an arrogant, incompetent, illiterate, and inept fool in the White House, a demoralized and decimated military, plundered treasury, trashed world standing, trampled rule of Law and Constitution. While the nation is sinking under debt and the market is in a free fall while an tidal wave of Uneducated Illegal Aliens are waving the Mexican flag, demanding their rights, while sucking at the trough of Public Welfare, as they Kill, Rob, and Rape thousands of American Citizens each year. While most of the Candidates are pandering for the Latino vote by implying or promising Amnesty!

We as a nation can survive fools in our White House. What we CANNOT survive is fools both in our Congress and white house like Bush, McCain, Hillary, Obama, etc. Each promising a new American, rebuilding the middle class and taking care of the poor. But what they refuse to acknowledge or recognize is no single Nation or people is rich enough to lift the 100,s of millions of poor out of poverty. In others words American & American taxpayers cannot bear the cost of becoming the welfare state for Mexico and Latin American. To attempt to do so will only reduce all Americans to poverty equaling what the uneducated invaders are fleeing from in their home countries. The poor and criminals pouring across our Borders have an average of an six grade education. Each person with less than a high education is a net cost of 20k per year for American taxpayers. So the displaced compassion, flawed logic, or just pandering for votes, endorsed by Edwards, Obama, McCain, Hillary . is deeply flawed. Failure to close our border or to give Amnesty to the 12 to 30 millions of Illegal Aliens in this country will in the long run, with the Chain Immigration result in adding 100 to 160 millions poor citizens to our welfare rolls. Their high school drop out rates exceed 50 percent with a high crime rate and a very high illegitimate birth rate, this is very combination that keeps Mexico & Latin American a cesspool of crime, corruption, poverty & misery!

Maybe the results is what the multinational companies and the rich dream of, a Nation full of poor docile labors like China, India, Mexico, but I do not believe it is the future most Americans aspire to for their children and grand children!

In all, my country, a potential benefactor and beacon for all the world - is headed right off a cliff and to an third world status!

In my view - - this has all come to pass because the Politicians, the elected and sworn stewards of this country, both Republicans & Democrats have allowed it to happen. Surely they should have known better when they build bridges to nowhere, when they wasted 100,s of billion in pork and sold their votes to the highest bidder....when they refused to abide by the Constitution against invasion or enforce the very laws they passed, they have disgraced and dishonored their oath of office and brought shame upon our Nation. One way this Nation can start to recover is for the lot of them to be gone from those hallowed halls of Congress and the White House, because most of them have become a house of party-bound Prostitutes paid by the special interests, swirling and partying, amidst the rubble of their own malfeasance - taking this Nation right down in the gutter with them.

If the Politicians with the Citizens support, decide they must do more for the worlds poor then they must find a way like an Marshall plan for Latin American. What they must not be allowed to do, though flawed logic, false compassion, or by criminal intent is to turn this Nation into a Cesspool of Crime, Corruption, Poverty, and Misery by continuing the open borders policy and Amnesty for the millions of uneducated peons pouring across our borders.

As a proud and concerned American that proudly served my Country in time of War as did my Father, my two brothers and my son. I am appalled and very angry at what self severing, stupid/corrupt politicians have done to my country!

Posted by: american1 | January 22, 2008 6:07 PM

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