A credible scenario for Huckabee's victory was set forth by William Kristol in The Weekly Standard today:
Huckabee wins Iowa (or places a very strong second), beating Romney. He then defeats at least Thompson in New Hampshire. Energized social conservatives rally to the real thing for Huckabee's showdown with Giuliani, as Thompson and Romney fade. Huckabee gets enough money flowing in to compete adequately, and beats Giuliani one-on-one on Feb. 5 and after, winning more delegates than Giuliani by doing better in the delegate-overweighted (because they've voted Republican more often recently) Southern states.And Politico has a good article countering the attacks against Huckabee and covering the latest Iowa Hawkeye poll:
His critics say that when Huckabee was governor of Arkansas, he was a big spender and a big taxer.
There may be another reason for some fiscal conservatives not to like him, however: Huckabee is anti-greed.
In his speeches, Huckabee rails against the “unbridled greed” of some Wall Street executives.
“I am not interested in being the candidate of Wall Street but of Main Street,” he says. “CEOs get paid 500 times what the average worker does, but they are not necessarily 500 times smarter or harder-working, and that is wrong.”
Last Friday, an opinion piece in The Wall Street Journal quoted Randy Minton, a former Republican state representative from Arkansas, as saying Huckabee’s “support for taxes split the Republican Party and damaged our name brand.”
Name brand? Of the Republican Party? In Arkansas?
Huckabee, who was governor of Arkansas for 10½ years, was only the third Republican governor there since Reconstruction. And he says that, far from damaging the name brand of Republicans there, he beat the “Clinton political machine” in Arkansas four times.
“Nobody knows Hillary better than me,” Huckabee told me. “The Clintons campaigned for my opponents four times, and I won. When people talk about who can beat Hillary, I say I already have.”
A University of Iowa Hawkeye Poll released Monday shows Huckabee gaining ground in Iowa, moving into a statistical tie for second place with Rudy Giuliani and trailing Mitt Romney.
“If Huckabee can motivate religious conservatives to attend the caucuses in large numbers, he may well threaten Romney,” said David Redlawsk, director of the poll.
I did some math:
Mitt Romney has spent $53.6 million this primary season and has 36.2 percent of the vote in Iowa, according to the poll. Which means Romney has spent $1.48 million for every percentage point of support.
Rudy Giuliani has spent $30.6 million and has 13.1 percent of the vote. Which means he has spent $2.34 million for every percentage point of support.
Mike Huckabee has spent $1.7 million and has 12.8 percent of the vote. Which means he has spent $133,000 for every percentage point of support.
So who is the biggest fiscal conservative?
By my calculations, if Huckabee had Romney’s money, Huckabee would have 40.3 percent of the vote in Iowa and would be in first place.
Which doesn’t mean Huckabee will ever be able to raise that kind of money (nor does spending money always guarantee support).
But Huckabee says his fundraising is going better and better, even though he is now being attacked by conservatives as well as liberals. (Liberals don’t like him because he is anti-abortion, pro-guns, anti-civil-unions and a supporter of exposing children to creationism as well as evolution.)
“It has been the liberal side of the press that has been calling me a right-wing fanatic and a Neanderthal,” Huckabee said.
But he said he fully expected the attacks from both sides. “When they quit attacking me, then that means I am no longer a factor,” he said.
Then he paraphrased, with credit, a saying of Mahatma Gandhi.
“First they ignore you,” Huckabee said. “Then they laugh at you. Then they attack you. Then they attend your swearing in.”