As Romney Falters in Republican Race, Huckabee’s Drive Gathers Momentum

BOSTON — Even before the results were clear on Tuesday, Mitt Romney’s advisers conceded that they faced a steep climb to the nomination because of simple delegate math.

But now they also have to cope with a strong competitor to their momentum. Mr. Romney and his archrival for conservative voters, Mike Huckabee of Arkansas, each won at least five states on Tuesday. Mr. Huckabee lost narrowly in Missouri to Senator John McCain of Arizona.

Speaking to supporters on Tuesday night in suburban Little Rock, Ark., Mr. Huckabee, former governor of the state, derided the view that he was to be counted out, telling a modest-size crowd that the vote had indeed turned the Republican contest into a two-person race — and that he was in it.

“Tonight, we’re proving we’re still on our feet, and much to the amazement of many, we’re getting there,” he said to cheers.

He gave no indication that his still substantial delegate deficit was a reason for pulling out.

“As long as there are still votes and delegates, there’s going to be one guy answering the bell every time there’s a new round,” Mr. Huckabee told his supporters.

Though Mr. Huckabee lacks a convincing route to the nomination, his continued presence promises to make Mr. Romney’s path much more rugged, drawing away the very conservative voters Mr. Romney had counted on to defeat Mr. McCain.

Mr. Romney’s aides tried to minimize the Huckabee effect, saying it would simply delay his progress, not prohibit it.

“Huckabee has a specific appeal on specific issues to an important sliver of the electorate,” said Kevin Madden, a spokesman for Mr. Romney. “What Huckabee seems to be doing is still maintaining that specific appeal. What it’s done is it hasn’t stopped us. But instead it’s drawn out the primary calendar.”

Mr. Madden acknowledged that without Mr. Huckabee in the race, almost every previous nominating contest might have turned out differently.

“We’d have a greater ability to bring together these coalitions of conservatives, the economic and the social and the national security conservatives, and be the best candidate to unite the party,” Mr. Madden said.

Mr. Huckabee’s campaign manager, Chip Saltsman, said that the results on Tuesday had given the former Arkansas governor’s efforts a big boost and that contributions had increased.

“It gives us a lot of momentum, going forward,” Mr. Saltsman said. “I think we go forward with a lot more money than we thought we were going to have.”

He said Mr. Huckabee was not angling for second place on the Republican ticket.

“We’re still running for president,” Mr. Saltsman said. “We’re not running for vice president.”

As an example of the Romney campaign’s hurriedly revised calculations, aides had begun discussing an unlikely strategy that relies on delegates who are pledged to other candidates but who are not technically bound to them. Under that plan, the advisers envision that conservative fears continue to work against Mr. McCain, buying time and fueling a series of big victories for Mr. Romney. That would place him at a point where he has enough momentum to wrest some of the promised but not bound delegates into his column at a contested convention.

“Anybody who says it’s all going to be a mathematical exercise is wrong,” said Tom D. Rath, a senior adviser in the Romney campaign. “The math will follow the politics.”

The math, however, is daunting. Even some of the campaign’s more promising hypothetical delegate counts for how the race might shake out by Wednesday would leave them facing a serious deficit in the race to the 1,191 needed to clinch the nomination.

Under less rosy situations, Mr. Romney could be left with the almost impossible situation of having to win almost every remaining contest.

On the other hand, conservative grass-roots anger does appear to be building in some corners against Mr. McCain. Several conservative commentators have thrown their weight behind Mr. Romney.

On Tuesday, James C. Dobson, founder of Focus on the Family, released a blistering statement about Mr. McCain, saying he could not in good conscience vote for the senator.

Meanwhile, Mr. McCain has been playing up the names of conservatives who have endorsed him, including Senator Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, whom he called “the most conservative member of the Senate.”

Mr. Romney’s advisers hope the upshot of the grass-roots anger and a divided delegate picture is that they will be able to derail at least temporarily the rush to crown Mr. McCain as the nominee.

“The calendar gets spread out enough so you can compete everywhere,” said Ben Ginsberg, a senior adviser to Mr. Romney. “And the sort of rebellion that’s taking place in the grass roots against McCain has more time to take root.”

Advertisements

Mike Huckabee’s Florida Primary Speech

Transcript

The following is a transcript of Mike Huckabee’s speech to supporters after the Florida primary, as provided by CQ Transcriptions via The Associated Press.

MIKE HUCKABEE: Well, folks, I wanted to tell you what we’re doing. We are rehearsing for the victory speech we’ll be able to give about Missouri next week.

(APPLAUSE) I was kind of hoping for a warm welcome in Missouri and there’s about 50-mile-an-hour winds and snow out here. I wish that I had brought the Florida weather with me today. I think we would have all enjoyed that very much.

Well, I think we’re all aware that the situation in Florida is that we’re going to be in a position looking at either third or fourth. Now, for those of you that think I should be discouraged, let me just remind you that going into tonight, we were second in delegate count and, more importantly, we’re playing all nine innings of this ballgame.

(APPLAUSE)

Even the Cardinals occasionally have a rough inning, but they know how to win championships.

What I want to express to you is next week, when we are going to be in Missouri and Oklahoma and Arkansas and Tennessee and Alabama and Georgia and all of these states where we’re leading in the polls, and we’re still going to be leading next week, we’re going to have a great opportunity to start taking it all the way home to the nomination and to the White House, and it’s going to happen a lot because of Missouri next week.

(APPLAUSE)

And we appreciate the great support we’re getting. I want to say thanks to the people of Florida. There’s going to be probably, before it’s over, maybe up to 300,000 people down there who worked their hearts out for us and those people, I can’t tell you how proud I am of them, because they had no resources.

Others have spent millions and millions of dollars. We knew that we wouldn’t have those kind of resources to play there. So we went out there and just worked with people who would come out, put their own signs out, buy their own t-shirts and hats.

A lady in Pensacola, she and her daughter put out 700 signs, just the two of them, in one day. Unbelievable. And that’s the kind of thing that’s happening across this country with our campaign that a lot of people still haven’t figured out.

And when you look at what we have done with what we have, it’s a remarkable story that is not even close to being over. In fact, we like to believe we’re just really getting started.

(APPLAUSE)

There are some great folks down there. Our chairman, Senator Daniel Webster, and our co-chairman, House Speaker Marco Rubio, and a host of great Floridians who have been extremely dedicated to our task.

I don’t want them to feel discouraged. I want them instead to feel very proud of their effort and be as half as proud of their effort as I am of them and the wonderful work that they’ve done for us.

I know it’s a little tight in this room. We really anticipated that we might have 100 people. We thought that about half of this would be enough, and we did not expect the weather to be this bad.

And I don’t know if you’re coming here because you’re escaping then cold and the heat is out in your house, but because of the weather, we’ve got to get to California tonight. So our exit will be a little quicker than we had wanted it to be, and I apologize in advance for that, but I’m sure you understand that we’ve got to be at the Reagan Library tomorrow night.

So we’re flying out as soon as we leave here, headed to California, because I’m going to be on that stage tomorrow night. I’m not sure everybody’s going to be there, but I will be.

(APPLAUSE)

And I need you here in Missouri to join with us in being a part of a wonderful volunteer army across this country who believes that it would be a better America if we did not have the IRS making it…

(APPLAUSE)

… and that believe that it would be a better America if we did stand up for human life and traditional marriage.

(APPLAUSE)

And that it would be a better America if we actually sealed our borders and became energy independent within 10 years.

And that it would be a better America if we had a country that once again believed in its future and believed that it’s not so much just about Democrats versus Republicans and the left versus the right and liberals versus conservatives, it’s about Americans building a better future for their kids and their grandkids and taking this country up and not down.

And that’s why people are with us and across this country, we’re finding homemakers and truck drivers and people who wait tables, as well as folks who work in the lines at the factories, and people who run their own business, and I want to be the president who reminds America that that small business owner out there, every day, working hard and taking a risk is the person that ought to believe that his government is going to be out there to under-gird him, not undermine his every move, and we’re going to make sure that happens in this country.

(APPLAUSE)

And you’re going to help be a part of that.

I wish we had cooked food for all of you. I bet right now you’re wishing it, too.

AUDIENCE MEMBER: Fried chicken.

HUCKABEE: Fried chicken. I gave it up a few years ago. But I do know how to eat it if I ever get it, that’s right.

I want to, again, express my thanks to Ray Wagner (ph) and all of the folks here in Missouri who have been working with us, Jeff Rowe (ph) and so many others who have just helped us have great confidence that between now and seven days from now, there’s going to be something that we’ll all be shouting about.

And it won’t just be a Missouri victory, but also, that same night, there’ll be one in Georgia and Alabama and Tennessee, and there’ll be one in Arkansas and Oklahoma, and maybe a few other places that people aren’t even expecting it to happen.

Thank you folks for being here. God bless every one of you. Pray hard, work hard, get the votes out. Remember this — if they’re going to vote for me, make sure they come. If they’re not, don’t let them out of their driveway.

Thank you, folks. God bless you. Thank you.

Georgia: Huckabee 34% McCain 19% Romney 16% Alabama: Huckabee and McCain tied for first

The key is deligates, which we’re ahead on McCain. Florida is winner take all and we know we’re not in the top two so it’s smart campaigning in other states while the rest of the gang duke it out in Fla.Now for some Rasmussen poll numbers:
While John McCain and Mitt Romney are fighting for the lead in Florida’s Presidential Primary on January 29, Mike Huckabee has the lead in Georgia.The latest Rasmussen Reports telephone survey in Georgia finds Huckabee with 34% of the vote followed by McCain at 19%, Romney with 16%, Ron Paul with 12% and Rudy Giuliani in fifth with 11%.Huckabee is viewed favorably by 70% of Likely Republican Primary Voters, McCain by 63%, Giuliani by 63%, Romney by 62%, and Paul by 25%

McCain is seen as the most electable Republican—70% believe he would be at least somewhat likely to win the White House if nominated. Fifty-nine percent (59%) believe Huckabee would have a chance to win while 55% say the same about both Giuliani and Romney. Just 12% believe Paul would have a chance to win the election if nominated.

Nationally, McCain, Romney, and Huckabee lead in the Rasmussen Reports daily Presidential Tracking Poll.

ALABAMA

John McCain and Mike Huckabee are tied for the lead in Alabama’s Republican Presidential Primary. McCain and Huckabee each attract 27% support while Mitt Romney is a distant third at 15%. Rudy Giuliani is the choice for 8% while Ron Paul is supported by 3% and 20% are not sure.Huckabee currently attracts support from 37% of Evangelical Christians likely to participate in the Primary while McCain leads among other Protestant voters with 32%.Just 40% of the state’s Likely Primary Voters are certain they won’t change their mind before the February 5 Primary.McCain is viewed favorably by 75%, Huckabee by 71%, Giuliani by 64%, Romney by 60% and Paul by 23%.

John McCain is seen as the most electable candidate. Seventy-six percent (76%) believe that McCain would be at least somewhat likely to win the White House if nominated. Just 59% of the state’s Primary Voters are that confident about Huckabee, 56% say the same about Giuliani, and 56% hold that view of Romney. Just 12% think Paul would have a chance of winning in November if nominated.

Nationally, McCain, Romney, and Huckabee lead Obama in the Rasmussen Reports daily Presidential Tracking Poll,

Huckabee Adopts New Southern State Strategy as Funds Get Tight

Mike Huckabee discussed a new southern state strategy Tuesday, one that would forgo the winner-take-all state of Florida and instead focus on Super Tuesday Feb. 5’s Southern and Midwestern states where more religious conservatives live and are likely to support Huckabee.

But the former Arkansas governor and winner of the Iowa Republican presidential caucuses said he’s not giving up on Florida altogether.

“Right now our plan is to play ball in Florida. We think we can play here. Obviously, every single day is a new day in the campaign, especially when its as fluid as it is,” he told reporters flying with him. “We just have to look at dynamics every day because it’s a winner-take-all state. We want to do well here, but somebody gets it all. I mean there are more delegates in Georgia than in Florida.”

Huckabee said that he is still competitive in Florida, a state where he polled well even when he didn’t have any operation there — no staff, no field workers, no television or radio ads.

But as Huckabee seeks to stay competitive, his campaign is recalibrating and scaling back, including dropping its traveling press corps, which means no longer coordinating and scheduling planes and buses for media covering the candidate. The media organizations pay for the seats, food and travel but campaigns can lose money if media outlets decide to pull back on coverage.

“Were cutting are expenses as much as possible,” Huckabee said, noting 50 empty seats on the plane where he was speaking. “We’ll put a leaner team together and save every bit as much money as we can.”

The campaign is also paring down staff to stretch the dollars out as much as possible. Huckabee Campaign Manager Chip Saltsman, told FOX News that Charmaine Yoest, a senior adviser, has left the campaign completely.

“Most people are staying on,” but a few have departed, campaign chairman Ed Rollins said in an Associated Press interview. “A number of people, including myself,” have agreed to forgo their pay in order to spend as much as possible on television ads in vital states, Rollins said.

However, Saltsman said “plenty of money” is coming in, including $100,000 in new funds raised Tuesday in in Georgia. He said the campaign has more than enough to make it through the Feb. 5 states, and has always been run frugally.Saltsman said Yoest was a great staffer but as a mother of five, she felt the campaign could not afford her, and they came to a mutual, amicable agreement around her departure.

One Huckabee rivals, Rudy Giuliani, has also acknowledged that senior campaign workers are forgoing their January paychecks in hopes of saving money for use other than salaries.

FOX News’ Serafin Gomez contributed to this report.

Huckabee begin$ ‘unconventional’ $trategy for Fla., and still leads in Georgia

mcaputo@MiamiHerald.com

With the presidential race tight and his cash even tighter, Mike Huckabee is embarking on a new ”unconventional” strategy that focuses on numerous Southern states and de-emphasizes Florida’s relative importance.While his opponents blanket Florida with ads and personal appearances, Huckabee is making a small step daily in Florida as well as states like Georgia to maximize his free news media coverage and keep expenses low.

And if Florida’s notoriously expensive media markets prove too costly and the polls show it’s pointless to hunt for the state’s winner-take-all votes, Huckabee acknowledged he’ll probably spend his cash — and time — elsewhere.

But not yet.

”Right now, our plan is to play ball in Florida. We think we can play here. Obviously, every single day is a new day in the campaign, especially when it’s as fluid as it is,” he told reporters. “I don’t want to abandon Florida yet because we have not come to the conclusion that Florida is out of play. We’ve had leads here when we didn’t have any reason to have leads here in Florida. So, I mean really, it was just astonishing to us. We were leading polls. We thought: We don’t have a single staff person, we don’t have a field operation here, we’re not running TV or radio and we’re leading polls.”

Precipitating the strange election season: The decision by Florida to move its GOP primary up to Jan. 29. That broke party rules. So the state Republicans were stripped of half the delegates who are chosen to officially nominate a presidential candidate at the national convention. Florida legislators said losing delegates wasn’t a problem because normally the race is long decided by then.

But now it appears the delegates do matter and the system, changed by Miami Rep. David Rivera and others, has backfired — save for the fact that Rivera now backs Huckabee, who is benefiting from the chaos.

”Our entire campaign,” he said, “has always operated in the unconventional.”

For instance, Huckabee campaigned Monday in the Democratic stronghold of Ebenezer Baptist Church, where he attended a Martin Luther King Day service. He sat in the same pew as a fellow former Arkansas governor, Bill Clinton, and later picked up the endorsement of a group of conservative black pastors who endorsed him and said they oppose abortion and gay marriage.

Huckabee was the only Republican presidential candidate in Atlanta on Monday, as John McCain, Mitt Romney and Rudy Giuliani battled it out in Florida.

”I’ll bet you that we got more attention on my schedule today than any other Republicans did,” Huckabee said.

Huckabee leads in Georgia, which will have more delegates than Florida when it votes Feb. 5.

Huckabee will attend an anti-abortion rally Tuesday in Atlanta and then head to Gainesville for a fundraiser and a brief press appearance. On Wednesday, he’s planning to attend a Destin fundraiser, will attend a Boca Raton debate Thursday and an event in Miami Friday. He also plans to hit up Little Rock, Ark, as well as Tennessee.

“Everybody’s had to sort of adjust their game plan. Originally, the thing was: It’s all about the early states, getting the momentum, and that’s going to carry you through. Well, now, there’s no decisive winner in these early states, so everybody’s had some good times. Some medium times. And some bad times. Actually, we’ve probably not had what I call disasters.”

While some think Huckabee is just trying to strengthen his hand for a vice-presidential bid — perhaps with McCain — Huckabee said he isn’t thinking of that. “If you ever start thinking about what’s your fallback position, that’ll become your goal. So you don’t do it. And I don’t.”

It certainly wouldn’t be something he thinks about with Fred Thompson, who’s close to bowing out of the race. After he attacked Huckabee once, Huckabee suggested he was constipated. Also, a Romney-Huckabee ticket would be tough to see due to squabbles between the two campaigns.

On Monday, Romney’s campaign suggested Huckabee’s was conducting so-called ”push polls,” which are really telephone-based smears in the guise of legitimate surveys. Huckabee denied it and seemed exasperated when the allegation was brought to his attention.

”Romney, can that guy ever . . . ,” Huckabee said, stopping himself. “If we had that much money, we wouldn’t be spending it on that.”

What Does $585,000 Buy You?

Question: What does $585,000 buy you?

Answer: It bought Mitt Romney backers a smear job against Mike Huckabee orchestrated by Beltway Insiders.
The Club for Growth has an affiliated 527 group, Club for Growth.net, running anti-Mike Huckabee ads in early primary states.

–  At least $585,000 in contributions from Mitt Romney financial backers.

–  Club for Growth has spent $750,000 against Governor Huckabee in Iowa, South Carolina and Michigan.
Here are donors that have donated both to Club for Growth.net* and Mitt Romney:

Name:  John Childs**

Contribution to Beltway Group
$100,000 on 11/16/07

$100,000 on 12/31/07

Contribution to Mitt Romney
$2,100 on 1/8/07

Name:  Bob Perry

Contribution to Beltway Group

$200,000 on 12/12/07

Contribution to Mitt Romney
$2,300 on 3/13/07
Name:  Kristen Hertel

Contribution to Beltway Group

$25,000 on 12/21/07

$25,000 on 1/02/08

Contribution to Mitt Romney
$1,000 on 2/6/07

Name:  Muneer Satter

Contribution to Beltway Group

$25,000 on 12/21/07
$25,000 on 1/02/08

Contribution to Mitt Romney

$2,300 on 2/6/07

Name:  Michael Valentine

Contribution to Beltway Group

$40,000 on 1/3/08

Contribution to Mitt Romney

$2,300 on 4/4/07
Name:  Travis Anderson

Contribution to Beltway Group

$25,000 on 12/19/07

Contribution to Mitt Romney

$2,100 on 2/8/07
Name:  Richard Gaby

Contribution to Beltway Group

$20,000 on 12/19/07

Contribution to Mitt Romney

$1,000 on 2/12/07

* Only represents donors that contributed more than $20,000 to Club for Growth.net in 2007/2008.

** “Boston investor John Childs, who donated $2,100 to Romney in 2007, recently gave 100,000 to the Club for Growth.” [Morain, Dan. “Huckabee foes open their wallets for attack ads,” The Los Angeles Times. 1 January 2008.]

*** All contributor information obtained from Federal Election Commission’s electronic database at http://www.fec.gov.

Paid for by Huckabee for President, Inc.
http://www.mikehuckabee.com

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.