Posted: September 5, 2007 6:41 PM
Huckabee Banks on FOX Debate for More Media Time
In the week leading up to the Republican candidates’ fifth debate Wednesday night in Durham, N.H., presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee’s staffers were only half-jokingly calling him America’s new media “darling.”
The former Arkansas governor had been profiled in the Style section of the Washington Post and made the cover of the National Review the same week. All of the attention the campaign attributes to the candidate’s unexpectedly strong second-place finish in last month’s Iowa straw poll.
But Republican strategists said the true test of Huckabee’s staying power will come at Wednesday night’s debate. They said he will have to use the platform to draw clear differences between himself and early front-runners former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, and to overshadow Kansas Sen. Sam Brownback, his principal rival for the conservative Christian vote. Most observers consider the forthcoming candidacy of former Tennessee Sen. Fred Thompson as the wild card in the race.
Meantime, on ABC News’ “This Week” on Sunday, Huckabee said voters had grown tired of contentious politics, even across party lines. He said Americans were looking for simple answers from the candidates.
“What they want is: Will you fix the borders? Will you somehow bring a peaceful and victorious solution to Iraq? Will you change the tax code? Will you make education work? They don’t care who gets it done. They just want results.”
Two days earlier, Huckabee, a Baptist minister, became the second national Republican figure to call for Idaho Sen. Larry Craig’s resignation. The Republican lawmaker pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of disorderly conduct stemming from a sex sting in the Minneapolis airport bathroom. Huckabee said, “If as individual Republicans we sort of shrug our shoulders and say, ‘No big deal,’ we’ve got a problem.”
Huckabee also got the endorsement last week of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace workers, the first time in its 119-year history that the union has endorsed both a Republican and Democratic presidential candidate (Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y.).
Huckabee plans to spend the rest of the week campaigning in New Hampshire.