Huckabee, who lacks both the resources and the celebrity status of the big four candidates in the GOP field, now appears poised to embarrass several of them in January. He was virtually tied with Giuliani on the question of who would truly be the best president among the Republican candidates. His status as a former governor is appealing in the abstract to GOP voters.
His second-place finish in the Iowa straw poll has not given him the fundraising boost that he might have hoped, but he continues to perform well in debates with his rivals and his conservative positions and sunny disposition have begun to impress Iowans of both parties.
When I sat down on Friday evening with a group of Linn County Democratic Party officials and activists to talk about politics, the last thing I asked them was to give me their impressions of the Republican field. I wanted to know which candidate they thought might prove toughest in a general election race.
Surprisingly they named Huckabee. McCain, they said, was past his time. Romney's flip-flops, they suggested, would make him an easy target in a general election. They also said they found him too slick and plastic.
One said Giuliani would appeal to Democrats and worried about that. But others argued that Giuliani was too much identified with New York and the East Coast to play well in the Midwest, which once again is likely to be the critical battleground in 2008. Plus they thought he would split the Republican Party.
Huckabee drew only positive comments. One in the group said she has a friend in Arkansas who told her people there admire what he did for the state as governor. Another said he seemed like "a genuinely nice guy." Another described him as "grounded."
Huckabee remains the intriguing dark horse in the Republican race -- a candidate whose appeal in Iowa could further shake up a contest in which none of the candidates is yet able to take control.
October 9, 2007
Posted by Joel at 8:23 AM