Posted: November 15, 2007 5:32 PM
Huckabee: Race for GOP Nomination Up for Grabs
Former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee says he’s pinning his presidential hopes on the American voter, not political machinery.
On Sunday, he told CBS’s “Face the Nation” that crowds at his campaign events were growing larger, something he said indicated that voters were still not satisfied with the Republican front-runners, former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani, former Tennessee Senator Fred Thompson and Arizona Senator John McCain.
He said his campaign was “on fire” in Iowa, where the first meaningful contest of the nomination season is scheduled to take place Jan. 3. “These are folks who are ready to sign up and who are ready to walk through eight feet of snow to get to the polls.” And he pointed to his recent fundraising successes and climbing poll numbers as proof that the Republican presidential nomination race was far from over.
He had a similar message a few days earlier, when Chris Matthews of MSNBC’s “Hardball” asked Huckabee, an ordained Baptist minister, why prominent conservative Christian leaders Pat Robertson and Paul Weyrich were backing his rivals. “I don’t know,” Huckabee responded. “But the rank and file are with us … The followers, those are the folks that are going to be going to the polls.”
But the former Arkansas governor remains significantly outgunned in Iowa, where Romney, who is leading in state polls, has spent heavily on TV ads. The Huckabee camp, still lagging badly in funding, has yet to air an ad.
Political activists say both the lack of ad time and the money shortage hurt him, and that one deficiency feeds the other. A lack of funding keeps Huckabee from being viewed as a serious national candidate, while that very lack of serious treatment handicaps his fundraising efforts. And they express doubt that Huckabee can replicate his high poll numbers in other states. “The main hurdle for Mike Huckabee in Iowa is viability after the caucuses,” said Iowa Republican Party chief Chuck Laudner. “The limit now is … if you win Iowa, where do you go? [The voters] have got to see that there is a chance.”
Another Republican organizer in Iowa, Steve Scheffler, agreed with that view. “I don’t know what [a win in Iowa] gets him,” he said. “It takes two things to make a campaign successful, money and organization.” Scheffler said he doubts Huckabee has the resources to “go the distance.”
Some voters are already talking about Huckabee as a vice-presidental rather than presidential choice, a possibility the candidate dismisses in interviews. And in an ABC poll taken last month, seven out of 10 Americans said they hadn’t heard enough about Huckabee to have an opinion of him.