October 31, 2007
Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee (R) has joined the growing chorus of conservatives who say they would be surprised and disappointed if Sen. Sam Brownback (R-Kan.) were to endorse ex-New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani’s (R) bid for the White House.
During a lunch with reporters on Tuesday in which a confident Huckabee insisted he can win the GOP nomination and general election, the former governor said that he reached out to Brownback the day the senator withdrew from the race and that he wants Brownback’s support.
“It makes perfect sense. It’s a good fit for a lot of Sen. Brownback’s supporters,” Huckabee said. “I would be shocked if he endorsed Mayor Giuliani.”
Huckabee said he would be surprised because on the issues Brownback was so “adamant” about during his failed presidential run, namely abortion rights, Brownback and Giuliani are “at opposite ends of the political spectrum.”
Huckabee also refused to say definitively that he would support whoever the eventually GOP nominee is, calling that a hypothetical question. He did say he would have trouble supporting the candidacy of Rep. Ron Paul (Texas) in the unlikely event the insurgent candidate won the nomination.
The former governor is riding high these days, pointing to a recent boom in fundraising and growing poll numbers in the early-voting state of Iowa, a must-win for Huckabee.
Huckabee said he is enjoying a “phenomenal” two weeks, in which his campaign has seen more financial contributions over a six-day period than in the entire first quarter. He said his campaign would surpass the $1 million mark for the month Tuesday afternoon.
“It’s been a good run,” Huckabee said, adding that increased fundraising will show a lot of potential supporters who like Huckabee but doubt his chances that “obviously, we’re in play.”
Huckabee said his improved prospects are evidenced by recent polls in Iowa, and at one point flipped out his BlackBerry to recite the results of a new American Research Group (ARG) poll that shows him ahead of all but one GOP candidate.
The poll shows Huckabee moving into second place behind former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, with 19 percent to Romney’s 27. Giuliani is near a statistical tie with 16 percent.
Huckabee seemed particularly emphatic when he noted that former Sen. Fred Thompson (Tenn.), long thought to be the biggest benefactor of the support of social conservatives, has only 8 percent in the poll.
But in New Hampshire, where Huckabee said he is “gaining ground,” Huckabee comes in at a distant fourth behind Romney, Giuliani and Sen. John McCain (Ariz.), according to another ARG poll. Only 7 percent of voters polled in the Granite State support Huckabee.
“I think we’re in a position to surprise people there,” he insisted.
Huckabee said he continues to believe there are three tickets out of Iowa — “First class, business class and coach” — and if he can win one of those tickets, then momentum will propel him through the other early-voting states, causing “a total upheaval of the process.”
“You still have a sense that momentum is unstoppable in an election process,” he said.
Huckabee attributed his recent improvement in the polls to a “convergence” of factors, including his strong showing in Values Voters polls, increased fundraising and the endorsement of actor Chuck Norris.
“I really do think that had a big impact,” Huckabee said. “It was unsolicited. I’ve never talked to him or met him … proving that he’s not just a tough guy, but he’s also a really, really intellectually smart guy.”
With Huckabee’s improving chances, however, comes increased scrutiny by the media and Washington enemies like the anti-tax group Club for Growth. Huckabee says he sees that as a “sign of life” and “a real form of flattery.”
“I seem to be in the crosshairs of every predator that’s out there,” he said.
Huckabee continued to dismiss the criticisms of social conservative leaders like Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council and Gary Bauer of American Values. The conservative leaders have said in recent weeks that Huckabee lacks the foreign policy credentials to win their support or that of the American people.
“They would never have gotten behind Ronald Reagan,” Huckabee said, adding that some past presidents like Reagan who were originally thought to be novices on foreign policy emerged as heroes in that arena because they had “character and clear convictions.”
Huckabee also said that he is uniquely suited to defeat Democratic front-runner Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (N.Y.), whom he and the rest of the GOP field say will win the Democratic nomination.
Huckabee said that as the former governor of Arkansas, he has run against and beaten “the Clinton machine and organization.”
That said, Huckabee added that he is in the same position that former President Bill Clinton was during the fall of 1991, before the other former Arkansas governor from Hope, Ark., won the nomination and the presidency.