Posted: June 11, 2007 1:37 PM
Huckabee Weighs Opting Out of Iowa Straw Poll
Republican presidential hopeful former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee may be rethinking his involvement in the Iowa straw poll, traditionally the first major test of strength for the candidate field. Late last week, front-runners former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani and Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., announced they would skip the August straw poll and focus their resources on the state’s caucuses currently set for January.
On Friday, Huckabee and fellow long-shot candidate Sen. Sam Brownback, R-Kansas, declared their commitment to staying in the straw poll — and scolded former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, the third front-runner, for declaring victory once McCain and Giuliani had bowed out.
But Sunday on CNN’s “Early Edition,” Huckabee indicated he had not yet made a final decision on Iowa. “The whole straw poll is looking different,” he said. “If the front-runners aren’t going to play, we all have to start assessing its impact, its importance, and what it looks like if we were to win it.” No candidate in its 33-year history has bypassed the straw poll and won the Iowa caucuses.
Huckabee also defended the Bush administration’s practice of detaining alleged terrorism suspects at the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. His comments came hours after former Secretary of State Colin Powell said Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press” that keeping Guantanamo open had “shaken the belief that the world had in America’s justice system.”
But Huckabee, who visited Guantanamo last year, disagreed, saying it was superior to state prisons during his tenure as Arkansas governor. He said, “I can tell you most of our prisoners would love to be in a facility more like Guantanamo and less like the state prisons in the United States. … [I]n fact, there are extraordinary means being taken to make sure these detainees are being given, really, every consideration.”
When pressed on whether detainees should be held without being formally charged or allowed access to courts, Huckabee said, “There’s not a perfect solution. … If we make a mistake right now, let’s make it on the side of protecting the American people.”
The Sunday interview capped a week in which Huckabee confused the day of Ronald Reagan’s death for his birthday during the third televised Republican candidates’ debate, was forced to cancel what had been billed as a major speech at the National Press Club in Washington due to lack of interest, and saw his poll numbers continue to hover between 1 percent and 2 percent.
The candidate planned to start the new week with campaign stops in his native Arkansas.