Detroit News: Huckabee swings into state

Personally speaking, I believe that the Huckster’s campaign is making all the right moves – the momentum appears to be gaining traction daily.

Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee will make his first campaign appearances in Michigan on Thursday, hoping to build on momentum he is gathering in other early-voting states to raise money, and his visibility, in the Great Lakes State.

Before Huckabee arrives, fellow GOP candidate John McCain kicks off a two-day swing through the state today. McCain will hold town hall meetings in Livonia today and Jackson on Thursday.

Huckabee will appear at a $100-a-person fundraiser in Owosso and at Clinton County Republicans’ annual Lincoln Day Dinner. Except for last month’s televised debate in Dearborn, these will be the former Arkansas governor’s first stops in Michigan; he canceled a scheduled appearance at the state GOP’s Mackinac Island conference in September, citing a lack of money to make the trip.

But fundraising has picked up as positive showings at campaign events have bumped up his poll numbers. A CNN/Opinion Research national poll of GOP voters released Tuesday showed Huckabee reaching into double digits, and a series of Iowa polls have shown him moving into second place in that crucial early state.

Huckabee has seen little support in Michigan polls, but is hoping his critique of free-trade policies that have challenged Michigan manufacturers can attract voters.

“Michigan is a key battleground state that is vital to our nation’s economy and competitiveness position in the world,” Huckabee said in a written statement in advance of his visit. “I’m pleased to come back to the Wolverine State to meet with supporters and more importantly, to find out what’s on the mind of Michigan voters.”

Huckabee trailed far behind Republican competitors in fundraising through the first six months of the year. But after improved standing in the Iowa polls and a strong showing at an October gathering of social conservatives, money began flowing in at a quicker rate; through the first five days of November, he was pulling in more than $27,000 a day, more than triple his pace early this year.

The Baptist minister has gathered support from prominent social conservatives for his anti-abortion position; among his Michigan backers is Gary Glenn, head of the American Family Association of Michigan, a group that fights abortion and gay rights.

But his record on taxes and spending has drawn fire from fiscal conservatives. The influential Club for Growth, an anti-tax group, has criticized Huckabee for tax and fee increases in Arkansas, criticisms Huckabee has said distort his record.

Meanwhile, McCain will be back in the state he won in 2000, trying to mount his own comeback. McCain’s poll numbers in the crucial early state of New Hampshire, which he also won in 2000, dipped amid staffing and financial problems in July and August, but have rebounded in the fall.

“This trip is particularly important for the strong resurgence that is in New Hampshire and across the country to be brought back to Michigan to rekindle the McCain magic,” said John Yob, McCain’s deputy national political director and a Michigan native.


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