Posted: July 16, 2007 6:58 PM
Huckabee Aims for Top Three in Ames Straw Poll
Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee raised $764,000 during the second quarter, exceeding his first quarter tally by roughly $250,000, according to a report submitted Sunday to the Federal Election Commission.
The campaign also said it had $437,000 cash on hand at the end of June. While the totals represent progress for Huckabee, they still leave him well behind front-runners former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani.
Huckabee’s funding disclosure capped a week of stepped-up campaigning in Iowa, ahead of the Ames straw poll next month. He told reporters that Ames was “the next major milestone for us,” during a conference call Wednesday. He said he would be satisfied to finish in the top three positions, as long as the gap between the leaders was competitive. “We’ve never said we have to win the straw poll in order to be considered credible, [but] we’ve got to do well.” Of the higher profile candidates, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Giuliani have both opted out of the straw poll. Romney has committed to participate.
Huckabee also took on filmmaker Michael Moore during his conference call, when reporters asked if he expected to see Moore’s movie, “Sicko,” about the health insurance industry. Among other things, the film praises health care in several foreign countries, including Cuba, claiming services there are more affordable and more readily available than in the United States. Huckabee said he had not seen the film, but that he had watched Moore being interviewed about it by CNN’s Wolf Blitzer. In an apparent reference to Moore’s weight, Huckabee said, “Frankly, Michael Moore is an example of why the health care system costs so much in this country. He clearly is one of the reasons that we have a very expensive system. I know that from my own personal experience.” Huckabee, who is 51, shed more than 100 pounds with a diet and exercise program after he was diagnosed with diabetes in 2003. Throughout his tenure as governor, and since, he has made health care reform and physical fitness top priorities. He remains an avid runner.
Also Wednesday, Huckabee touted his “fair tax” plan to supporters in Sioux City, Iowa. He said a national consumption tax would simplify life for all Americans. “You don’t buy it, you don’t pay taxes.” He called the federal tax code “a nightmare,” but noted that any effort to reform it would meet stiff resistance from Washington lobbyists, “because the ‘fair tax’ will put them out of work.”
The candidate plans to continue campaigning in Iowa throughout the week.