Sunday, October 28, 2007

Iowans Give Huckabee a Second Look

  • DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) -- Mike Huckabee, who strums a bass guitar and cracks jokes at campaign stops, is quietly establishing himself with Iowa voters as a serious candidate for the Republican presidential nomination.
  • ''I think he's the sleeper candidate this year,'' said Steve Roberts, a Des Moines lawyer who sits on the Republican National Committee. ''He makes a very positive impression in his public appearances and in the debates.''
  • Huckabee's success thus far in this early voting state has raised the question: Can he overcome his rivals' advantages? He doesn't have the money of Mitt Romney, the celebrity of Rudy Giuliani or the personal history of John McCain.
  • But the former Arkansas governor has a message that resonates with many Iowans. He is an ordained Baptist minister whose opposition to abortion and gay rights appeals to social and religious conservatives, and he has a personal story of losing more than 100 pounds that has helped form his stand on health care.
  • Huckabee often delivers his conservative message while poking fun at himself and others -- at times while performing with his rock band, Capitol Offense.
  • It's a combination that led him to a strong showing at the recent Values Voter summit in Washington where he tied with Romney in a straw poll and 12 percent in the latest survey by The Des Moines Register.
  • In August, Huckabee finished second to Romney in a high-profile Iowa GOP straw poll.
  • Still, Huckabee has been unable to attract the necessary cash for his campaign, and he is stuck in low single digits in national polls. Huckabee raised $2.3 million as of Sept. 30 and had $650,000 cash on hand. By comparison, Giuliani had $16.6 million cash on hand, Romney $9.2 million and Fred Thompson $7.1 million.
  • His lack of money means Huckabee can field only eight paid staffers in Iowa, about half the size of Romney's campaign, and cannot air TV ads as Romney has done for months.
  • Given the front-loaded election schedule, in which Iowa and New Hampshire will be followed by an explosion of primaries, many wonder if a candidate without a pile of money can afford to build the organizations needed to compete throughout the nation.

Read the rest here.

No comments: