Posted: October 19, 2007 4:49 PM
Huckabee Gaining Ground in Iowa
Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee appears to be inching toward top-tier status in the Republican presidential field. A poll of Iowa voters released Wednesday by the “Rasmussen Reports” showed him in a statistical dead-heat for second-place with 18 percent of voter support alongside former Tennessee Sen. Fred Thompson’s 19 percent and behind former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney’s 25 percent.
The current national front-runner, former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani, lagged 6 points behind Huckabee, with 12 percent.
It was the second time in little more than a week that Huckabee edged Giuliani out of the top three slots. On Oct. 6, the former Arkansas governor also placed third in a “Des Moines Register” poll, again behind Romney and Thompson.
And the candidate, himself, seemed to like his chances in Iowa. He told CNN’s John King Thursday, “It’s a perfect environment for me, because it is all about grassroots.”
Earlier this week, the Huckabee campaign reported that it raised over $1 million dollars in the third quarter of 2007. That roughly doubles what they took in the previous quarter, but it still lags well behind the front-runners’ figures.
According to campaign fundraising records released Monday, the Huckabee team spent $819,000 last quarter, has $651,000 cash on hand, and is $47,000 in debt. Giuliani reported $11.6 million dollars in the bank, Romney $9.2 million dollars, and Arizona Sen. John McCain $1.7 million.
Speaking at a Rotary Club event in New Hampshire on Thursday, Huckabee said the current campaign-finance laws put him at a disadvantage. He said that unlike current members of Congress who are running, he cannot dip into funds left over from earlier election campaigns. Nor does he have the deep pockets to self-finance his bid the way Romney, who has loaned his own campaign $17.4 million dollars so far, has done.
“If a person has personal wealth, he or she can write a check, jump-start their campaign and become instantly credible. Now is he a front-runner because he has great ideas, or because he has a great checkbook?” he said.
He also blamed the national media for playing along. “We really are creating a system driven more by money than anything. In a way, it’s a conspiracy.”
He said he would prefer a “nothing prohibited, everything disclosed” rule, under which candidates could accept and spend unlimited amounts of money from all sources, but would be compelled to publicly disclose all contributions and all expenditures within 24 hours.