Fred Thompson calls it quits…

Hot off the air by El Rushbo – details to follow as they come out!

Ron Paul Activists – I mean supporters, take over the Forge Inn at the Woodbridge NJ Conservative Straw Poll

NJLocal – Visit NJCOMMUNITY

Ron Paul activists pretty much took over the room at the Forge Inn in Woodbridge NJ Sat. for the NJ Conservative Presidential Straw Poll.

Over 200 attended with 126 votes garnered for Paul. Thompson was a distant second, Mitt Romney tallyed 22 and Gov. Huckabee pulled in 15 votes – had the amount of supporters that showed up at the Meetup group last Wed., Huckabee would’ve pulled in a much healthier second place finish. There were not many “undecided” voters as everyone in attendance that I noticed had a stickier or button for their choice candidate.

Peter Kane was the surrogate speaker for Gov. Huckabee and as usual did a fabulous job representing the former Governor.

Huckabee supporters were optimistic however – their candidate pulled in ahead of New Jersey favorite – Rudy Giuliani.

See more on the Straw Poll HERE

HERE

It’s on to Florida as McCain takes South Carolina

Mike Huckabee pulled in a close second with 30% to McCain’s 33%

John McCain took the early lead in the South Carolina primary Saturday and never lost it.

With 93 percent of precincts reporting, McCain had 33 percent and Mike Huckabee, 30 percent. Fred Thompson had 16 percent, Mitt Romney had 15 percent. Ron Paul was polling at 4 percent and Rudy Giuliani at 2 percent. Duncan Hunter, fairing poorly in both Nevada and South Carolina on Saturday, was returning to San Diego and planned to drop out, FOX News learned.

A win for McCain could be a big boost going into the Florida primary Jan. 29 and Super Tuesday Feb. 5, when 24 states hold a variety of primaries and caucuses for both parties. There has been no breakaway front-runner in the GOP race — Huckabee won the Jan. 3 Iowa caucuses, while McCain won the Jan. 8 New Hampshire primary. Romney won lower profile contests in Wyoming, Michigan and Nevada, but leads the delegate count.

A jubilant crowd chanted “Mac is back” as the candidate took the stage with his wife and family. The crowd repeated the call, loudly applauding and hooting throughout McCain’s speech.

McCain’s supporters said they had waited eight years for the victory. McCain lost a head-to-head match against George W. Bush in the state in 2000. Many of his backers said the September report on Iraq by Gen. David Petraeus was the beginning of a turnaround they expect to take to the Republican National Convention.

In his victory speech, McCain said he was “humbled by and grateful for” the support.

“Thank you, South Carolina, for bringing us across the finish line first in the first-in-the-South primary,” McCain said from his victory party in Charleston.

“You know, it took us a while but what’s eight years among friends? What it really did, it gave us the opportunity to spend more time in this beautiful state to talk to you, to listen to you and to come to admire all the more the deep patriotism of South Carolinians to defend our country from its enemies,” he continued.

The Arizona senator added that he has a long way to go, but was pumped to win Florida, the next GOP contest, scheduled for Jan. 29.

“I’m not running for president, to be somebody but to do something. i am running to keep America safe, prosperous and proud,” he said. “Nothing is inevitable in our country. We are the captains of our fate. We can overcome the challenges if we stand by our courage.”

Prior to McCain’s speech, Huckabee told supporters he had made the call to congratulate his opponent.

“I told him that I’d much rather have him call me tonight, but he was gracious just as we knew he would be,” Hucakbee said.

Disregarding the push-polling in South Carolina done by a Colorado-based group called Common Sense Issues, the former Arkansas governor said he appreciated McCain’s running a “decent, civil campaign.”  Common Sense Issues had made phone calls suggesting McCain had collaborated with the North Vietnamese while in a prisoner of war camp, and had supported abortion rights. The McCain camp denied such claims and offered a Truth Squad to refute them, and Huckabee disavowed the tactics used by the group that openly claimed its support for Huckabee.

“I had rather be where I am and have run it with honor then to have won it and get there by attacking somebody else,” Huckabee said. “And I am grateful for the campaign that you have been willing to run with me, and I am grateful for the campaign he has run as well.

“Unfortunately in politics close doesn’t count for the first slot, but it does count. … This is not an event, this is a process, and the process is far, far from over.”

Thompson had been hoping to revive a sagging campaign with a strong showing in South Carolina, and Romney had hoped to place well in the state, despite campaigning in Nevada in the days before the caucuses there.

Thompson, who has called himself the consistent conservative candidate in the race, said he would make up his mind about his future plans after consulting with his mother, who’s in the hospital.  Speaking with supporters in Columbia, S.C., he didn’t give any indication about his next steps.

“It may be a little early to declare victory, I’m not sure,” Thompson joked early in the evening. “We told our folks to vote late, so they’ll be trickling in.” Thompson then spoke seriously, saying that the voting isn’t about what the candidates or the voters want, but is about the future of the Republican Party.

South Carolina’s vote counting was off to a slow start after polls closed at 7 p.m. ET. Voters in one coastal county faced problems with voting machines and moved to paper ballots. Election Commission spokesman Gary Baum said because of the paper ballots used in Horry County, the count could take a while. Baum said he knew of no other significant problems at polling sites.

State Republican party officials expected 500,000 votes to be cast Saturday, but sleet and snow threatened turnout. The turnout ended up being closer to 400,000.

Still, snow did not begin falling in the western part of the state until one hour before polls closed. Low country, or the coastal areas, were considered McCain strongholds, whereas upcountry — the northern and western parts of the state – were considered favorable to Huckabee.

Early polling came mostly from the southern portion of the state, setting up McCain’s early lead. But the northern city of Greenville, a Huckabee stronghold and the biggest Republican primary area in the state, one that delivered victory to Bush over McCain by 20 points in 2000, didn’t deliver. The area gave a puny winning margin for the former Arkansas governor, not enough to turn the race.

Polls ahead of the primary showed about 20 percent of voters were undecided in the state, and many of those voters showed up at campaign events for McCain and Huckabee in the days before the vote. Among those who made up their mind in the last three days, the majority of the group split almost evenly between the two — 64 percent for Huckabee compared to 65 percent for McCain.

The state is a bastion of patriotism and military service, with 25 percent of voters being military veterans. They overwhelmingly were going for McCain, according to early exit polling. McCain also had an impressive roster of South Carolina heavyweights supporting him, including Sen. Lindsey Graham and Attorney General Henry McMaster.

Huckabee, an ordained Baptist minister, was looking for big numbers from The Palmetto State’s largest denomination: Southern Baptists. His staff expected 60 percent of the GOP vote to be evangelical Christians, and they said it felt like Iowa, where he pulled a win out from nowhere.

McCain aides said the Arizona senator will be fine if Huckabee can be held to about 40 percent of undecided evangelicals.

But Huckabee also appeared to suffer from the role Thompson played among that group. Huckabee won evangelicals who voted — 40 percent to McCain’s 27 percent. Thompson took 14 percent of this vote.  If that 14 percent had split the same way the 40-27 did, that would have given Huckabee an advantage.

Thompson also likely pulled from self-described conservatives. Sixty-eight percent of GOP voters in South Carolina call themselves conservatives. Huckabee won the group, 33 percent to McCain’s 26 percent.  But Thompson got 18 percent of this voting bloc. Had those voters leaned toward Huckabee, that may also have had a major impact.

Huckabee campaign chairman and chief strategist Ed Rollins told FOX News that Thompson did for McCain exactly what he set out to do.

“Fred Thompson did his job. He couldn’t help McCain win in 2000 as national co-chair but tonight he helped him win. I don’t want to take away anything from McCain, he has been here for eight years, and he had great organization. We knew it would be close,” Rollins said, adding Thompson “split votes for us. He knows he’s not viable, he’s not going to win and isn’t really campaigning but did enough to do his job.”

ALERT: Baltimore Sun – Huckabee Surging in SC?

By Paul West,Baltimore Sun

COLUMBIA, S.C. — On the eve of Saturday’s Republican primary in South Carolina, there are signs that Mike Huckabee could be overtaking John McCain, who had been favored to win the first southern test of the ’08 campaign.

New polling over the last two days shows McCain and Huckabee statistically tied. At least one unreleased poll had Huckabee up by four points, while a Mason-Dixon poll for MSNBC-McClatchy had McCain’s lead down to two points.

After his New Hampshire victory on Jan. 8, McCain grabbed the lead in opinion surveys in South Carolina, where he is hoping for redemption in the state that doomed his first try for the presidency, eight years ago. A defeat tomorrow could be similarly devastating.

From here, the race goes to Florida. Polls show a close four-way contest there among McCain, Huckabee, Mitt Romney and Rudy Giuliani heading into the Jan. 29 primary.

Romney abandoned South Carolina earlier this week for Nevada, where his only competition in tomorrow’s Republican caucuses is Ron Paul, but he continues to invest heavily in TV advertising in South Carolina (as does Paul). Romney received no boost from his favorite-son victory in Michigan’s primary earlier this week and Republican politicians in this state say he seems to be falling farther behind as undecided voters make up their mind.

South Carolina has been a pivotal contest in Republican presidential campaigns for more than a quarter-century. Since 1980, the winner here has gone on to win the nomination.

McCain’s loss to George W. Bush after an unusually nasty campaign in 2000 effectively ended his chances of becoming the nominee. This time, he’s got the support of much of the state’s political establishment and is counting on military veterans and moderate conservatives to redeem that earlier defeat.

But the state’s large evangelical Christian voting bloc, and growing fears about the economy and illegal immigration, could mean less attention to national security and terrorism, the issues McCain is emphasizing in his campaign.

New figures released today showed the largest jump in unemployment in South Carolina since 1990, and the state’s jobless rate is now the fourth highest in the country.

Huckabee is coupling his religious-themed candidacy with a strong dose of economic populism. The former Arkansas governor is also trying to appeal to regional pride, reminding voters that he speaks the way they do and eats the same foods, such as catfish and grits.

A similar down-home pitch by Fred Thompson, from neighboring Tennessee, has had much more limited success. The former senator is running well behind Huckabee and McCain, polls show. He appears likely to join other candidates, going back to John Connally of Texas in 1980, for whom South Carolina was the end of the trail.

One wild card that could influence the outcome on Saturday: Forecasts call for bad weather statewide, and especially in the “upstate” portions of the Piedmont plateau, where social and religious conservatives are concentrated. That could work to McCain’s advantage, his supporters say.

But the conditions may have the opposite effect: by magnifying Huckabee’s edge among Christian voters, who seem to be the ones who are the most motivated to turn out on Saturday.

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.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Today’s Rasmussen Daily Tracking poll has Mike Huckabee on top

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

The Rasmussen Reports daily Presidential Tracking Poll for Wednesday shows Mike Huckabee on top–at least for the moment–in the race for the Republican Presidential Nomination. It’s Huckabee 23%, John McCain 22%, Mitt Romney 15%, Rudy Giuliani 12%, and Fred Thompson 11%. Ron Paul attracts 2% support (see recent daily numbers).

Daily tracking results are collected via nightly telephone surveys and reported on a four-day rolling average basis. The overwhelming majority of interviews for today’s update were conducted before results of the Michigan Primary were known. The next update is scheduled for Thursday at 11:00 a.m.

Romney’s victory in Michigan last night further muddles the Republican race. It is once again easy to show how each of the leading candidates can lose the nomination while difficult to see a clear path to victory for anyone. A Rasmussen Reports analysis notes that the exit polling highlights the challenges facing John McCain, particularly on the issues of taxes and immigration.

Romney won in Michigan partly because of his local ties. But, also by focusing on the economy at a time when consumer and investor confidence has fallen to the lowest levels in five years—73% of Americans now believe the economy is getting worse.

Polling conducted before Michigan shows McCain leading in South Carolina and Fred Thompson gaining ground. Rasmussen Reports is polling in South Carolina again tonight. In Florida, four Republican candidates essentially tied for the lead. A commentary by Michelle Malkin says she is looking for a Suck-it-Up candidate to support in the GOP race.

In the race for the Democratic Presidential Nomination, it’s now Clinton 37%, Obama 29% and John Edwards 16% (see recent daily numbers). In Michigan, Clinton lost badly to African-American voters who preferred “Uncommitted.” Rasmussen Reports polling has found that Clinton has a solid lead among white voters nationally while Obama leads 4-to-1 among African-Americans.

A commentary by Susan Estrich looks at the issue of “Race in the Race.” A new survey released today shows that just 54% of Americans say their peers are willing to vote for a woman for President. Fifty-six percent (56%) say their family, friends, and co-workers are willing to vote for an African-American. There is a strong generation gap on these questions.

Looking down the road a bit, Clinton is gaining ground in South Carolina and holds a solid lead in Florida.

Rasmussen Markets data gives Clinton a 59.1contract_id = 68178;node_id = 7607 + “_” + 8092;new Ajax(“/extension/ajax/intrade_lastprice.php”, {data: ‘contractID=’ + contract_id,method: ‘get’,update: $(‘intrade_’ + node_id)}).request();% chance of winning the Democratic nomination and Obama a 39.2contract_id = 68180;node_id = 7608 + “_” + 9638;new Ajax(“/extension/ajax/intrade_lastprice.php”, {data: ‘contractID=’ + contract_id,method: ‘get’,update: $(‘intrade_’ + node_id)}).request();% chance. On the Republican side, McCain is now given a 35.2contract_id = 68214;node_id = 7615 + “_” + 9474;new Ajax(“/extension/ajax/intrade_lastprice.php”, {data: ‘contractID=’ + contract_id,method: ‘get’,update: $(‘intrade_’ + node_id)}).request();% chance of winning the nomination. Mitt Romney is at 19.0contract_id = 68215;node_id = 7613 + “_” + 6060;new Ajax(“/extension/ajax/intrade_lastprice.php”, {data: ‘contractID=’ + contract_id,method: ‘get’,update: $(‘intrade_’ + node_id)}).request();% followed by Giuliani at 22.2contract_id = 68217;node_id = 7612 + “_” + 1117;new Ajax(“/extension/ajax/intrade_lastprice.php”, {data: ‘contractID=’ + contract_id,method: ‘get’,update: $(‘intrade_’ + node_id)}).request();%, Mike Huckabee at 13.8contract_id = 68216;node_id = 7614 + “_” + 7247;new Ajax(“/extension/ajax/intrade_lastprice.php”, {data: ‘contractID=’ + contract_id,method: ‘get’,update: $(‘intrade_’ + node_id)}).request();%, and Fred Thompson at 3.1contract_id = 84651;node_id = 7670 + “_” + 2445;new Ajax(“/extension/ajax/intrade_lastprice.php”, {data: ‘contractID=’ + contract_id,method: ‘get’,update: $(‘intrade_’ + node_id)}).request();%. Numbers in this paragraph are from a prediction market, not a poll. We invite you to participate in the Rasmussen Markets. It costs nothing to join and add your voice to the collective wisdom of the market. Prospects for South Carolina, Nevada, and Florida are featured on the Rasmussen Markets Summary page.

Daily tracking results are collected via nightly telephone surveys and reported on a four-day rolling average basis. Each update includes approximately 750 Likely Democratic Primary Voters and 600 Likely Republican Primary Voters. Margin of sampling error for each is +/- 4 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence.

Each Monday, full week results are released based upon a seven-day rolling average. While the daily tracking result are useful for measuring quick reaction to events in the news, the full week results provide an effective means for evaluating longer-term trends. Rasmussen Reports also provides a weekly analysis of both the Republican and Democratic race each Monday.

Huckabee looks to South Carolina

LEXINGTON, S.C. – Mike Huckabee looked ahead to the South where he hopes his Arkansas roots and Baptist background will put him back on a winning track in South Carolina.

“Ladies and gentlemen we’re going to win South Carolina,” he declared to supporters in Lexington.

Huckabee, the winner of the Iowa caucuses, has emerged from the back of the pack into an improbable contender. He is staking his new foothold on South Carolina’s social conservatives and religious voters as well as young working-class voters attracted to his economic populist message. South Carolina’s GOP primary is Saturday.

“We put a flag in the ground here Saturday,” he said of the state. “We’re going to make it real clear that the first-in-the-South primary is going to give their support to the first-in-the-South candidate.”

The state is more familiar ground for the folksy ordained Baptist minister. More than half of the state’s likely Republican voters are white evangelicals, according to the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press. It was those voters who carried Huckabee to victory in Iowa.

But there are no guarantees for the former Arkansas governor. According to exit polls in Michigan, about four in 10 voters in the GOP contest called themselves born-again or evangelical Christians, and they split about evenly between Huckabee and Romney. In New Hampshire last week, those voters split evenly among Huckabee, Romney and McCain.

Huckabee will compete for those voters in South Carolina with Romney and Fred Thompson, the former Tennessee senator and television actor who is staking the life of his campaign on a victory in South Carolina.

“Whatever it takes, we’re in it for the long haul,” Huckabee said on CNN.

As he did in Michigan, Huckabee was expected to rally pastors to help turn out their flocks. He draws heavy support from parents who home school their children, a small but actively engaged bloc that populate his cadre of volunteers. Huckabee repeated one of his favorite applause lines Tuesday, telling supporters, “Mothers and fathers raise better kids than governments do.”

Huckabee has drawn distinctions with his rivals over abortion and gay marriage by calling for constitutional amendments to ban both. Thompson and McCain oppose same-sex marriage but stop short of calling for a constitutional amendment. On abortion, Huckabee is alone in calling for a constitutional amendment.

“I believe it’s a lot easier to change the Constitution than it would be to change the word of the living God,” Huckabee 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.”

He also talked tough on immigration. Arriving Tuesday in Rock Hill, S.C., Huckabee called for suspending immigration from countries that sponsor or harbor terrorists, going further than any of his rivals in proposing to clamp down on immigration.

“I say we ought to put a hiatus on people who come in here … if they come from countries that sponsor and harbor terrorists,” he said. “Let’s say, until you get your act in order, and we get our act in order, we’re not going to just let you keep coming and threaten the future and safety of America.”

His campaign quickly backtracked; Huckabee dropped the issue in his next speech, and an adviser, Jim Pinkerton, said Huckabee really meant he wants a “thorough review” of immigration problems.

He has appealed for working-class voters by saying he was the first among the Republican candidates to recognize economic hardships that many Americans face.

“If you spend some time listening to people you’re going to find that there’s a world of hurt out there in America,” he told his South Carolina supporters.

Huckabee trails his rivals in financing and was outspent by both Romney and Huckabee in Michigan. He spent about $480,000 in advertising in the state, compared to more than $2 million by Romney.