Well nice to meet you guys, Huck’s Army!

Great piece in Newsweek!

Huckabee’s Foot Soldiers

A grass-roots effort launched by a pair of home-schooled 19-year-old evangelical brothers could become crucial to Mike Huckabee’s presidential bid. Meet the Harris twins.

The Harris twins at work

By Brian Braiker | Newsweek Web Exclusive
Updated: 5:37 p.m. ET Jan 22, 2008
If Mike Huckabee‘s second-place finish in South Carolina seemed to rob his campaign of some momentum, it’s not because the Harris twins weren’t trying. The 19-year-old brothers are cofounders of Huck’s Army, a 14,000-member (and growing) grass-roots Web effort to catapult the former Arkansas governor into the White House. It was, after all, a Huck’s Army e-mail that inspired actor Chuck Norris to get involved.Home-schooled south of Portland, Ore., the evangelical teens have been organizing online since 2005, when they launched Rebelution, a youth ministry that has spawned a series of conferences and a book due out in April. They define that project as “a teenage rebellion against the low expectations of an ungodly culture.” Now as Huckabee, a Southern Baptist minister, is forced to cut back on expenses, Brett and Alex Harris are calling on the volunteers of Huck’s Army to provide the campaign with support and infrastructure. NEWSWEEK’s Brian Braiker recently spoke with Alex about his man’s loss in South Carolina, Fred Thompson‘s decision to pull out of the race and what Huckabee meant when he said he wants to bring the Constitution in line with “God’s standards.” Excerpts:NEWSWEEK: How are you feeling coming off this second-place finish in South Carolina?
Alex Harris:
I definitely think it’s a bump in the road. But you know what? Mitt Romney was supposed to win Iowa, but he didn’t. Rudy Giuliani wasn’t supposed to finish behind Ron Paul in every single race. It’s the craziest race we’ve ever seen, and it may not even be settled after Super Tuesday.

Fred Thompson just dropped out. That must be welcome news.
That’s probably the greatest news we could get. Fred Thompson appeals to a lot of the same voters, so we’re hoping there will be a whole domino effect of some conservatives moving back to Huckabee.

What is it about Huckabee for you guys? The fact that he’s an evangelical, or that you like his politics?
When we found out he was a Christian that was great, but his being Christian wasn’t enough for us. We were looking for someone who was electable, who could bring leadership experience, has a proven track record, common sense. Being a Christian can almost be a downside if the [candidate’s] not competent, because they’re not going to give good testament to Christ.

Which may be why critics say Huckabee’s base appears to be limited to socially conservative Christians.
The stereotype that his supporters are evangelical is driven by the mainstream media. The New York Times story on Huck’s Army called us “young evangelicals,” but it never mentions that our organizer in Michigan is Catholic and our organizer in South Carolina is an atheist. When ABC News was doing a piece, they said they needed us to find two young evangelical members of Huck’s Army to interview. If they had just asked us for two members of Huck’s Army, that would have been easy. We had trouble even thinking of two young evangelicals. The media is looking for that angle, and that has hurt Huckabee.

I invite you to read the rest RIGHT HERE

NEWSWEEK: Why S.C. is Huckabee Country

Welcome to Huckabee Country

TIGERVILLE, S.C.–They’re spread like breadcrumbs on the road from Lyman to North Greenville University.
Churches.
I counted at least 17 on the 18 mile drive; when I turned off the main road, Rt. 29, they passed by the windows of my white Chevy Impala at a rate of one or two per intersection. And nearly all of them were Baptist.
Which is just to say: this here is Mike Huckabee country.
The former Arkansas governor (and former Baptist minister) may trail John McCain by 2.5 percent in the latest South Carolina polling averages, but seeing the two leading Palmetto State contenders back-to-back on the same afternoon, it’s immediately clear that it’s McCain, not Huckabee, who’s fighting the uphill battle this week.
McCain’s goal? Protecting his right flank. Unlike in Michigan, New Hampshire or Iowa, the Arizona senator opened both of his appearances this morning by boasting of his “24-year record supporting the rights of the unborn”; asked to explain his new lead-in, McCain told reporters it’s “because we know phone calls are being made that say I’m not [pro-life], so I have to remind people.” (He laughed when someone asked if an opponent–namely the pro-Huckabee group Common Sense Issues–was making the calls. “No,” he said. “They’re coming from Mount Olympus.”)
Attempting to blunt further speculation about his pro-life cred, McCain trotted out new endorsee Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Oklahoma), a furious foe of abortion and pork-barrel spending, adding that he would “nominate the closest thing to a clone of Justice Roberts I can find.” He railed against internet pornography and spoke frequently of “family values” and the “breakdown of the family.” He turned a question about drug use into an opportunity to talk tough on illegal immigration, dropping phrases like “go back where they came from” more often than “humane” and “compassionate,” his usual watchwords. And McCain even revived an old ad slamming Hillary Clinton for supporting a Woodstock museum. Let the culture wars begin–again.
Don’t get me wrong. McCain’s rightward drift is all well and good–and probably necessary in a state where Confederate Flag loyalists are swarming each of his events and a group called Vietnam Veterans Against McCain is accusing him of betraying fellow P.O.W.’s to save himself. (South Carolina has a long, colorful history of smears–as McCain knows from him 2000 loss, when he whispering campaigns alleged that he was gay and/or the father of an out-of-wedlock black child.) But it’s largely a defensive crouch, and it detracts from what even McCain says are his main strengths–national security and veterans issues, which play well among South Carolina’s massive military community.
Huckabee, on the other hand, is entirely at ease. Take today’s appearance at the North Greenville University–an evangelical Baptist school whose motto is “Where Christ Makes the Difference.” At the end of Huck’s remarks, a dean asked the candidate two “hard-hitting” questions. “Not to put you on the spot,” he said, “but are you a Christian? And can you tell us about your salvation experience?”
Shockingly, Huckabee was happy to oblige. “I came to Christ on my tenth birthday,” he said. “August the 24th, 1965.”
“It was at the Vacation Bible School at the little church I attended in Hope, Arkansas. I have to tell you the whole story. I didn’t go to Vacation Bible School to be spiritual. I went because my sister said you get all the Kool-Aid you could drink and all the cookies you could eat. That sounded like a good deal to me, so I went that next day. I was a little disappointed because when I got there, they didn’t think I could drink more than one cup of Kool-Aid or eat more than two cookies. They were wrong about that. But they were right about that day telling me what it means to come to Christ… I remember praying their prayer and feeling overwhelmed with the sense that God loved me. In fact, so much so, when everybody went out to play baseball, some of my friends said, ‘Let’s go play, man.’ And I said, ‘No, I don’t want to get dirty.’ Because I’d never felt so clean in my life.”
Hallelujah.
But Huckabee didn’t stop there. After scribbling some autographs and posing for pictures, the former supporter of in-state tuition breaks for young illegal immigrants (who in December became a “Go Home Now” hardliner) walked across the hall and, at an intimate little press conference, signed a tough-talking “No Amnesty Pledge“–a pledge that John McCain, it was noted, had already refused to sign. Meanwhile, an anonymous Huckabee adviser was telling CBN that “the free pass for McCain is over. The next few days in South Carolina will be rough and tumble.”

Game on.

Huckabee has target on his back

Article in the “Hope Star”

A win and two “shows” in presidential politics have begun to draw increased scrutiny of former Arkansas governor and Hope native Mike Huckabee, who won a distant third place Tuesday in the Michigan Republican Presidential Primary.

No sooner than had the exit polls been counted about 7 p.m. Arkansas time, national media pundits began to focus upon two aspects of Huckabee’s emerging campaign, including an economic policy statement issued on Monday and a statement he made Monday night calling for amendment of the U.S. Constitution to address abortion and homosexual marriages.

Addressing the economy Tuesday night from an election watch party in South Carolina, Huckabee said the other candidates must begin to pay attention to voter concerns rather than Washington concerns.

“You’re going to find out there is a world of hurt out there,” he said.

In a policy statement issued by his campaign on Monday, Huckabee proposed cutting federal taxes and installing a federal sales tax, as well as limiting product and medical liability lawsuits.

“In Arkansas, I signed a bill that would reduce frivolous lawsuits which drive up costs of products and medical care. We need more doctors not fewer; we need more new products, not fewer,” he said. “Our tax system encourages outsourcing of American production overseas and the dismantling of our industrial base. It wastes hundreds of billions in useless tax preparation, paperwork and confusion. It pits industry against industry, class against class.”

 
 

Huckabee’s statement outlines five areas of economic policy including focusing on middle class families; pushing the Federal Reserve for pro-growth, low-inflation policies; jobs creation to improve infrastructure, defense, and homeland security; energy independence; and a fairer tax system.

“Every time we fill our cars up, we fill up the pockets of Middle Eastern countries,” he said. “That is going to end. We will have national energy security policy and we will end our dependence on Middle Eastern oil within ten years of my inauguration.”

CNN analyst John King called Huckabee “the economic populist” of the GOP race, while columnist Jeffrey Tobin said Huckabee’s constitutional amendment remarks were startling.

 
 

“That’s really something unusal,” Tobin said. “He’s got to deal with that.”

The Associated Press reported Wednesday that Huckabee called for the idea in remarks made Monday in Warren, Mich.

“But I believe it’s a lot easier to change the Constitution than it would be to change the word of the living God,” he said Monday night in Warren, Mich. “And that’s what we need to do, is to amend the Constitution so it’s in God’s standards, rather than try to change God’s standards.”

 
 

Former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich, speaking on Fox News, said Tuesday that Huckabee is the candidate that must be reckoned with in the upcoming South Carolina primary because of his appeal to evangelical conservatives.

“I think Huckabee has a huge advantage now in South Carolina. If somebody can knock off Huckabee, that gives them the advantage,” Gingrich said. “For an Arkansas governor in South Carolina, unless Fred Thompson gains momentum, I don’t see Huckabee getting beat.

“Governor Huckabee is a very good country politician,” he said. “And, in southern states, there is an enormous advantage to not having an accent, and Mike Huckabee and Fred Thompson don’t have an accent.”

 
 

Despite a 16 percent, third-place showing in Michigan behind former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney and U.S. Senator John McCain, Huckabee told cheering supporters Tuesday in Lexington, S.C., that his campaign was going to “plant a flag” in the state.

“We’re going to make it clear that the first in the South primary is going to be the first in the South to give their support to the first in the South candidate,” he said.

The South Carolina primary Saturday is the largest among two including Nevada before the Feb. 5 Super Tuesday primaries conducted in some 29 states, including Arkansas.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Social Conservatives are “Mad as Hell”

Paul Edwards writes an real interesting piece in today’s townhall.com

Since about the time the Moral Majority coalesced in the late 1970s and early 1980s, the Republican establishment has welcomed social conservatives to help get their candidates elected so long as they let their concern for moral issues take a back seat to fiscal policies. The leaders of the pro-family movement have always been more than willing to comply with the demands of the Wall Street insiders just to keep their place at the table. If the unity of this social-fiscal conservative coalition ever fractured, social conservatives bore the brunt of the blame.

And so it goes in the present race for the Republican presidential nomination. The Republican establishment has once again told social conservatives to suck it up and accept Giuliani as the de facto nominee in spite of their reservations about his record on abortion and the homosexual agenda to redefine marriage. Why? Because Rudy has the fiscal credentials. And, right on cue, a number of leaders of the pro-family movement complied, vis-à-vis Pat Robertson.

But just as their leaders were turning left, the rank and file of family values voters turned right, falling in behind Mike Huckabee, much to the chagrin of fiscal conservatives.

Cue Romney—the fiscal conservatives’ alternative to Giuliani. The idea seemed to be to convince the social conservatives that Romney was one of them, only much more refined than that “country bumpkin” Huckabee. The plan went something like this: have Romney deliver a major speech about his faith under the guise of being persecuted because of his faith (even though 80 percent of potential Republican primary voters polled said Romney’s faith was not an issue for them), and then if anyone questioned his faith, accuse them of being a bigot. Further, have Romney stretch the truth about seeing his father “marching with Martin Luther King,” as an appeal to the African-American values voter, and then when the record indicates George Romney never marched with MLK, explain it all away by saying the candidate was speaking “figuratively.” This strategy was supposed to lure the drifting rank and file back into lock-step.

There was just one problem with this plan. Social conservatives looked at Romney’s record on social issues and discovered he was “effectively pro-choice” throughout his political career just as he told Tim Russert on a recent edition of Meet the Press. Romney, it turns out, looks like a Giuliani in sheep’s clothing.

“But wait! Romney is a changed man,” you say. We’re all for death-bed repentance, but social conservatives rightly question whether a man who has exerted all of his political energies his entire political life for socially liberal causes can be trusted to appoint justices who will be strict constructionists.

Thus, the Huckasurge. Having been told for 30 years to sit quietly, ”take one for the team,” and let the fiscal issues take precedent, social conservatives are mad as hell and aren’t taking it anymore. There is a grassroots revolt taking place among the rank and file of social conservatives that has found its voice in Mike Huckabee, leaving the leadership of the pro-family movement wondering where their influence has gone.

Huckabee is not the fiscal conservative the Republican establishment would like. Horror of horrors, he has actually advocated using tax dollars to help the poor. Huckabee, it seems, actually applied what the Gospels say about our responsibility to the poor and suffering to tax policy in Arkansas. On issues like HIV/AIDS, the plight of the inner city poor, and education, Huckabee’s positions are admittedly more center left than center right. And while he believes in securing the border, Huckabee reminds us that there is lady standing in New York Harbor with a torch raised high beckoning ”your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free” to come here, to the land of the free. Can we fault them when they actually do?

The Republican establishment has looked down its nose at social conservatives far too long, tolerating us because they need our votes. But now the tables are turned. The grass roots are looking up at the establishment with the will of a Lech Walesa, demanding that fiscal issues take a back seat to moral issues for a change. It’s long past time for the moral and social issues of our times to be given more than just lip service. It’s now time for our fiscal policies to be informed by our social policies rather than sacrificing our morality to our economic standing in the world.

Don’t expect the Republican establishment to take this lying down. The New Media tanks are already rolling in to suppress the revolt.

Paul Edwards is the host of The Paul Edward Program and a pastor. His program is heard daily on WLQV in Detroit and on godandculture.com

Huckabee Surprises

Is Mike Huckabee too Christian to be president? Is Mitt Romney Christian enough? We’ll find out soon.

The former governor of Arkansas is on the cover of Newsweek, and though the headline, “Holy Huckabee: The Unlikely Rise of a Preacher Politician,” might suggest a mainstream media hatchet job — in which yet another Southern Baptist gets the full Elmer Gantry-Pat Robertson treatment — the article itself comes as a pleasant surprise.

Perhaps Newsweek, too, was surprised to discover that Huckabee’s political views are well within the mainstream of American politics. Elected four times statewide in Arkansas, by the same voters who had earlier elected and re-elected Bill Clinton, Huckabee was governor of the Razorback State for nearly 11 years.

During that time Huckabee proved his centrist effectiveness — including a willingness to spend money for better education, better health care and better roads. One might ask: Do Americans, stuck in traffic, waiting in long lines at airports, think that spending on infrastructure is a bad idea?

On social issues, of course, Huckabee is more clearly on the right, but most Americans, too, are anti-gay marriage and anti-abortion.

Still, the issue with Huckabee is faith: whether he believes what he believes too strongly. Recently, the agenda-setting Drudge Report bannered a headline, “Take This Nation Back For Christ,” referring to a June 8, 1998, article in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette in which Huckabee told the Southern Baptist Convention, “The reason we have so much government is because we have so much broken humanity.” He continued: “The reason we have so much broken humanity is because sin reigns in the hearts and lives of human beings instead of the Savior.” Is that too much of a soul-baring for the public square?

Interestingly, Huckabee gave that particular speech in Salt Lake City, home of the Mormon faith. And by coincidence, just last week Romney — a Mormon whose ancestors lived in Utah — delivered a major speech in Texas in which he sought to situate his own faith in the larger context of American political history. Romney quoted the second president, John Adams, as saying, “We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. … Our Constitution was made for a moral and religious people.”

In response, Romney was slapped around by the liberal likes of Salon.com for being too partial to religion. But as blogger Jay Cost put it recently in Realclearpolitics.com, the real issue for most Republican voters is not Romney’s Mormon religion, but rather Romney’s mutating positions on key policies.

Huckabee, meanwhile, has walked the walk, through persuasion and personal example: Here’s how Newsweek described his role as a new pastor in Pine Bluff, Ark., a quarter century ago: “The Immanuel Baptist Church was an all-white congregation when Huckabee took over the pulpit. One day he announced that a young black man, who heard his sermon on the radio, had asked to worship with them. Huckabee welcomed him to their pews. Some church elders were furious and refused to let the man sit with them. Huckabee threatened to quit unless his guest was greeted warmly. A few members quit in protest, but the rest of the congregation went along.”

In decades past, figures as different as Martin Luther King Jr. and Jimmy Carter were widely admired for letting their faith influence their policy positions. Is Huckabee to be held to a different standard?

Indeed, in times when crime and out-of-wedlock births are again on the upsurge, when football players are murdered in their homes, when Christmas shoppers are gunned down in Heartland shopping malls, more Americans might well be thinking: John Adams was right when he said that passions need to be bridled “by morality and religion.”

As a culture, as a people, we need to do something different. And everybody knows it.

James P. Pinkerton is a columnist for Newsday, where this first appeared.

Was Huckabee really attacking LDS?? I say not; Another bizarre doctrine of Joseph Smith was that Jesus and Lucifer (yes, Satan) were actually brothers.

Message to Mormons:

Tell the truth! If you believe it, be proud of it—don’t try to hide it.

Hey… now that I think of it, did any LDS spokesperson deny that what Huckabee said was untrue???? Did anyone ask the LDS is it WAS true??

Very insightful read by Bob Burney of Townhall.com & Radio host

Text highlights are my own.

Mormons: A Plea for Candid Truth Telling

By Bob Burney

What has happened to the simple principle of telling the truth? That question should be posed to the Mormon community. I’m not an expert on anything—but I do know a little bit about Mormonism—or, as they prefer to be called, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (LDS). My father was a Mormon for several years and many of his family were Mormons. I have also spent a considerable amount of time reading LDS literature. Again, that doesn’t make me an expert, but at least educated.

I have observed a notable change in the way the LDS Church presents itself to the general public, an effort that began sometime around the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City. Prior to that, there was not a readily-apparent effort by Mormons to identify themselves as a form of Christianity. Joseph Smith believed that the Angel Moroni appeared to him because all of American Christianity had become apostate. He was the one true prophet and the religion he would establish would be the only true church. That’s boiler plate LDS 101. I remember a time when it was common for Mormons to be offended if you called them Christian. That was then.

Sometime around 2002 a very noticeable shift occurred. Suddenly they wanted to be accepted as a part of mainstream Christianity—you know, there are Baptists, Presbyterians, Lutherans and Mormons. During this time of “repackaging” a document was released titled, “The Living Christ, The Testimony of The Apostles” [available here]. It was a slick document stating what Mormons believed about Jesus. Why slick? To read it, you would think you were reading the doctrinal statement of an Evangelical Church. Now, even a peripheral study of Mormonism will reveal that the Jesus of Mormonism isn’t even in the same universe (literally) as the Jesus of orthodox Christianity. The Jesus of Mormonism is the “spirit child” of his “heavenly parents.” He is in no way part of a triune Godhead.

The wording of “The Living Christ” represents some of the best marketing I have ever seen. It takes Mormon doctrine and makes it sound like standard Christian doctrine. At the same time, the official LDS Web site was totally overhauled and some of the more bizarre doctrines held by the Church were carefully hidden deep within the site—doctrines such as “the Fall” actually being a good thing, not bad; the pre-existence of all humans in heaven with Jesus simply being our “elder brother;” the ability to actually become a God and have your own planet to rule over.

Another bizarre doctrine of Joseph Smith was that Jesus and Lucifer (yes, Satan) were actually brothers. The LDS Web site prior to the Utah Olympics said this:

We needed a Savior to pay for our sins and teach us how to return to our Heavenly Father. Our Father said, ‘Whom shall I send?’ Two of our brothers offered to help. Our oldest brother, Jesus Christ, who was then called Jehovah, said, ‘Here am I, send me’ (Abraham 3:27).

Satan, who was called Lucifer, also came, saying, ‘Behold, here am I, send me, I will be thy son, and I will redeem all mankind, that one soul shall not be lost, and surely I will do it.’ (Moses 4:1).

Now, here is where my plea for Mormons to simply tell the truth comes in. This is America. You can believe anything you want. If you want to believe that God was once a human being, that Jesus was his physical son, that you can become a God yourself, that Jesus and Satan were brothers, you can certainly do so. But tell the truth! If you believe it, be proud of it—don’t try to hide it.

An interesting illustration of this has been playing itself out in current political news. In an interview with the New York Times Magazine, presidential candidate Mike Huckabee was questioned about his views of the Mormonism of fellow candidate Mitt Romney. Huckabee said he knew little about Mormonism and wondered out loud to the veteran religion reporter Zev Chafets: “Don’t Mormons believe that Jesus and the devil are brothers?” Well, that’s exactly what they believe! Several news outlets immediately accused Huckabee of attacking Romney’s religion. Blogs went berserk!

How did candidate Romney respond to someone revealing what his church actually believes? He said, “But I think attacking someone’s religion is really going too far. It’s just not the American way, and I think people will reject that,” Romney told NBC’s “Today” show.

How did the LDS Church respond? The Associated Press quoted an official spokeswoman for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints that Huckabee’s question is usually raised “by those who wish to smear the Mormon faith rather than clarify doctrine.” She went on to say, “We believe, as other Christians believe and Paul wrote, that God is the father of all … That means that all beings were created by God and are his spirit children. Christ, on the other hand, was the only begotten in the flesh and we worship him as the son of God and the savior of mankind. Satan is the exact opposite of who Christ is and what he stands for.”

She doesn’t deny anything Huckabee said, she is just very deft at using the language of and the association with mainstream Christianity to wrap their unorthodox doctrine in credibility.

Does this have anything to do with Mitt Romney and his qualifications to be president? Everyone will have to decide that in his or her own heart. I just wish the Mormons, including Mitt Romney, would simply be more candid and tell us the straight truth about their religion. Is that too much to ask?

Bob Burney is Salem Communications’ award-winning host of Bob Burney Live, heard weekday afternoons on WRFD-AM 880 in Columbus, Ohio.

The attacks are relentless… but the poll numbers say it all: Reuters/Zogby – Huckabee and Giuliani tied in 2008 Republican race

It appears, for now atleast, that the assult by Romney, Thompson, bloggers, and all the “non-believers” are having a negative effect. No, not on the Huckster, but on those doing the attacking.

(CLICK HERE FOR RELATED ARTICLE)

Conventional wisdom would think that attack, after attack, and more attacks would do harm to any candidate – and it could, in time. But for now, it seems that the feeding frenzy is putting Mike Huckabee in the spotlight. Here’s the good thing: as dozens of new articles per day are popping up, the smart voters (not smart in that they know everything, rather smart in that they want to learn the facts) do their research, get to know Mike Huckabee when visiting www.mikehuckabee.com, look at the facts, and realize how these attacks, for the most part, are petty, without merit and totally untrue.

Even more so, when you have folks like Catholic League president Bill Donahue having a problem with Mike’s “Christ in Christmas” commercial (huh??) or conservative critic Rich Lowry saying if Huckabee is the nominee it’ll “represent an act of suicide” by the Republican party, it just tells me, and most of you, that hey – these guys must have a lot of money and muscle backing Giuliani and Mitt Romney because it just doesn’t make sense all these attacks (unless of course, they just can’t stand the fact that Jesus’ name is actually being used in public)

Essentially, the negative attacks are having a positive result for Mr. Huckabee. If I were to see any of Mutt Romney’s attack ads, then look at the Hypocrite himself during Tim Russert’s MEET THE PRESS interview (CLICK HERE) I’d be like “hey wait – he’s got some nerve accusing someone of what he’s totally guilty of”

See, Mitt Romney is desperate. Unfortunately for him he can’t run from his record like this 1994 photo of Mitt attending a Planned Parenthood fund-raising event (CLICK HERE) . His objective at this point is simply a “don’t look at me, instead, here, look at Mike, even though it’s not true” attitude.

As far as Thompson, well, he too is desperate because the Christian conservatives he was hoping to get are actually behind Mike and he knows he has to paint Mike as a liberal. But yet again – those that seek to know the truth would realize that the Truth Squad sets the record straight.

So – lets see what today’s (Dec. 19th) latest numbers look like according to Political Correspondent John Whitesides:

DES MOINES, Iowa (Reuters) – Mike Huckabee has surged into a virtual tie with front-runner Rudy Giuliani in the national 2008 Republican presidential race two weeks before the first contest, according to a Reuters/Zogby poll released on Wednesday.

Huckabee, a former governor of Arkansas whose campaign has caught fire in recent weeks, wiped out an 18-point deficit in one month to pull within one point of Giuliani, 23 percent to 22 percent.

Among Democrats, Hillary Clinton‘s national advantage over second-place rival Barack Obama shrunk slightly to eight percentage points as the races for the White House tightened in both parties. Clinton had an 11-point edge last month.

The shifting numbers have changed the shape of a dynamic presidential race two weeks before Iowa on January 3 kicks off the state-by-state process of choosing candidates in each party for the November 2008 election.

“Huckabee is on a roll, he has gotten an enormous amount of publicity and he is doing very well with conservatives, who at least for now appear to have found a candidate,” pollster John Zogby said.

Giuliani, the former New York mayor who has led most national polls since early in the year, saw his support drop from 29 percent to 23 percent in the survey. His one-point lead over Huckabee was well within the poll’s 4.8 percentage point margin of error.

Huckabee moved ahead of former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, who was in third place at 16 percent, former Tennessee Sen. Fred Thompson at 13 percent, Arizona Sen. John McCain at 12 percent and Texas Rep. Ron Paul at 4 percent.

The groundswell for Huckabee, a Baptist minister with close ties to religious conservatives, has been fueled in part by his growing support among that key party constituency.

Among likely Republican voters who say they are “very conservative,” Huckabee drew the support of 43 percent, with Thompson second at 20 percent and Romney third at 16 percent.

FLUID RACE

Those voters who describe themselves as “born again” gave Huckabee the lead at 33 percent, with McCain in second at 17 percent and Romney with 14 percent.

The number of undecided likely Republican voters dropped from 21 percent last month to 9 percent. The race remains fluid enough to be shaped dramatically by the results in Iowa on January 3 and New Hampshire, where voters go to the polls on January 8.

“Voters are starting to at least pay attention and identify with someone,” Zogby said. “But it doesn’t mean they have made up their minds for good.”

Among Democrats, Clinton held a 40 percent to 32 percent lead over Obama, an Illinois senator, down slightly from 38 percent to 27 percent last month.

Some other polls have shown the national lead for Clinton, a New York senator, shrinking even more dramatically — and disappearing completely in Iowa and New Hampshire.

Former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards was well back in third place at 13 percent, with Sen. Joseph Biden of Delaware and former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson tied for fourth at 3 percent. Sen. Chris Dodd of Connecticut was at 1 percent.

“Obama is moving because he is building strength among young people and independents and growing his lead among black voters,” Zogby said.

Obama, who would be the first black president, led Clinton among likely black voters by 19 points, among independents by 16 points and among young voters age 18 to 24 by 34 points.

Clinton, who would be the first woman president, led Obama among likely women voters by 12 points and among older voters aged 55 to 69 by 16 points.

The percentage of Democratic voters who said they were undecided in the race was down to 4 percent from 14 percent last month.

The poll was taken last Wednesday to Friday. It surveyed 436 likely Democratic primary voters and 432 likely Republican primary voters, with a margin of error of plus or minus 4.8 percentage points for both parties.

(To read more about the U.S. political campaign, visit Reuters “Tales from the Trail: 2008” online at http://blogs.reuters.com/trail08/)