Dallas Morning News: Huckabee good investment in GOP’s future

The Dallas Morning News published an editorial Sunday supporting former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, despite saying he has no chance of winning the Republican presidential nomination.

Though Sen. John McCain of Arizona is the presumptive nominee and “it is mathematically impossible” for Huckabee to pull ahead in delegates, Huckabee “remains our choice for the GOP nomination,” the newspaper’s editorial board wrote, just two days before the state’s primary.

This is not the first time the paper has endorsed Huckabee. Last month, it called him a “a progressive conservative with a pastor’s heart.”

And in December, it called him “decent, principled and empathetic to the views and concerns of others — an antidote to the power-mad partisanship that has led U.S. politics to a dispiriting standstill.”

The Dallas Morning News also endorsed Sen. Barack Obama, D-Illinois, for the Democratic presidential nomination.

In the piece published Sunday, the newspaper’s editorial board wrote, “True, a Huckabee vote today won’t do much to determine the 2008 GOP presidential candidate.”

It added, “But it’s a good investment in the Republican Party’s future.”

McCain has 1,033 delegates to Huckabee’s 247, according to CNN calculations. A candidate needs 1,191 to seal the Republican nomination.

McCain appears to hold a comfortable lead in Texas. Recent polls indicate he is the choice of 58 percent of the state’s likely Republican voters, while Huckabee trails with 30 percent.

The Republican Texas “poll of polls” consists of three surveys: American Research Group (February 29-March 1), Reuters/C-SPAN/Houston Chronicle/Zogby (February 28-March 1), and Belo/Public Strategies (February 26-28).

McCain, who spent more than five years as a prisoner of war in Vietnam, has “long experience and personal courage” and “a solid record of fiscal responsibility,” the newspaper said.

It added that he “has been on the right side of campaign finance reform and environmental issues” and credited him as “correct and principled to lead the fight for comprehensive immigration reform last summer.”

But the board added that McCain’s age, 71, “and his choleric temperament gave us pause, particularly when contrasted to Mr. Huckabee’s sunny-side-up brand of conservatism.”

The paper lauded Huckabee’s views on the environment and described him as “a compassionate conservative” on economic matters.

“Though his social and religious conservatism puts him on the wrong side of abortion, gay rights and other key issues, that same deep-faith commitment inspires his dedication to helping the poor and to racial healing,” the board said.

Huckabee’s youth, pragmatism and “good-natured approach to politics” mean he could play a role in GOP politics for many years, the paper said.

“That’s why we encourage Texas Republicans to mark their ballots for Mr. Huckabee in the GOP primary: to demonstrate to the party’s elite that Mr. Huckabee and his vision have a solid constituency.”

Texas, Ohio, Rhode Island and Vermont all hold contests March 4.

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.”

…all the more reason to continue campaigning strong: Super Tuesday may NOT even produce a clear front runner.

Don’t look to crown any presidential nominees on Super Tuesday.

The race for delegates is so close in both parties that it is mathematically impossible for any candidate to lock up the nomination on Feb. 5, according to an Associated Press analysis of the states in play that day.

“A lot of people were predicting that this presidential election on both sides was going to be this massive sprint that ended on Feb. 5,” said Jenny Backus, a Democratic consultant who is not affiliated with any candidate. Now it’s looking as if the primaries after Super Tuesday — including such big, delegate-rich states as Texas, Ohio and Pennsylvania — could grow in importance.

“Maybe some states were better off waiting,” said Backus.

That doesn’t mean Super Tuesday won’t be super after all. Voters in more than 20 states will go to the polls on the biggest day of the primary campaign, and thousands of delegates will be at stake.

But it’s possible Feb. 5 might not even produce clear front-runners.

Here’s why:

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton leads the race for delegates to the Democratic National Convention this summer. She has 236, including separately chosen party and elected officials known as superdelegates, giving her a 100-delegate lead over Sen. Barack Obama.

There will be nearly 1,700 Democratic delegates at stake on Feb. 5, enough to put a candidate well on his or her way to the 2,025 needed to secure the nomination. But even if somehow either Clinton or Obama won every single one of those delegates, it wouldn’t be enough. And with two strong candidates, the delegates could be divided fairly evenly because the Democrats award their delegates proportionally — not winner-take- all.

The biggest prizes among the Democratic states are California (370 delegates), New York (232) and Illinois (153). All three states award Democratic delegates proportionally, with most delegates awarded according to the popular vote in individual congressional districts, and the rest based on the statewide vote.

The wild card for the Democrats involves the superdelegates, nearly 800 elected officials and members of the Democratic National Committee. They are free to support any candidate they choose at the national convention, regardless of the outcome of the primaries.

The AP has interviewed more than 90 percent of the superdelegates who have been identified by the party, and most have yet to endorse a candidate. Many say they will not make endorsements until after their states vote.

The Republicans have a better chance to produce a clear front-runner because several states, including New York, New Jersey, Missouri and Arizona, award all their GOP delegates to the candidate who wins the popular statewide vote. But a Republican candidate would have to attract support across the country to build a formidable lead.

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney leads the race for delegates to the Republican National Convention with 59. He is followed by former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee with 40 and Arizona Sen. John McCain with 36.

There will be more than 1,000 Republican delegates at stake on Feb. 5, enough to give a candidate a substantial boost toward the 1,191 needed to win the nomination — but only if one man emerges victorious in numerous states.

“I think you could have two or three viable (GOP) candidates” following Super Tuesday, said Ohio Republican Chairman Robert Bennett.

Ohio is waiting in the wings with its 85 Republican delegates a month later, on March 4, a date it shares with Texas, which will award 137 GOP delegates.

Other big states with later contests include Maryland and Virginia on Feb. 12, Wisconsin on Feb. 19 and Pennsylvania on April 22.

Four years ago, Sen. John Kerry clinched the Democratic nomination on March 2 — the earliest date in modern times — with a string of Super Tuesday primary victories. In 2000, George W. Bush and Al Gore both clinched their parties’ nominations on March 14, each sweeping a string of Southern primaries that day.

This year, Super Tuesday has grown to include more than 20 states, and it was moved up to Feb. 5 as states leapfrogged each other in an attempt to increase their influence in picking the nominees.

With so many states voting so early, the stage was set for a lengthy general election campaign after nominees were settled early in the year.

Some think that is still a good bet, especially if candidates who don’t fare well on Feb. 5 decide to drop out.

“It may take a while for Obama or Clinton to get 50 percent plus one of the delegates. But if it does narrow to a two-person race, then the Democratic nomination will be determined relatively soon,” said David Rohde, a political science professor at Duke University.

Rohde said the nomination contests may drag all the way to the conventions this summer. But he added, “It is also possible for aliens from Mars to land tomorrow and interfere with the election.”

Black Religious Leaders Endorse Huckabee

(AP) Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee paid tribute to Martin Luther King Jr. at a lengthy memorial service Monday at King’s old church and was endorsed by several black religious leaders.

While his main GOP rivals campaigned in Florida, Huckabee sat quietly through a nearly four-hour King ceremony at the Ebenezer Baptist Church. He was overshadowed by fellow Arkansan Bill Clinton, who received a long ovation for his 18-minute address.

The former president acknowledged Huckabee, who did not speak. “We don’t agree on much, but he is a very good man,” Clinton told the audience of several hundred.

Huckabee said he was willing to put aside campaigning for a half day to attend the King event, which he called inspiring.

The former Arkansas governor finished second in the South Carolina Republican primary over the weekend after campaigning in which he said the federal government should stay out of disputes over display of the Confederate battle flag in the state. He said last week, “If somebody came to Arkansas and told us what to do with our flag, we’d tell ’em what to do with the pole, that’s what we’d do.”

The flag is a symbol of racism to some, of Southern pride to others.

After his South Carolina loss, Huckabee needs strong showings in states such as Florida, Georgia and Alabama to keep his campaign alive. He went to Orlando for a late-afternoon rally and fundraiser Monday and planned to return to Atlanta Tuesday for an anti-abortion event.

“Winning Florida would be great,” Huckabee told an Orlando airport crowd of about 100, speaking of the state’s Jan. 29 GOP primary. But winning the nomination is the bigger goal, he said. “Nobody is going to have this wrapped up by Florida,” he said.

“We plan on carrying Georgia,” Huckabee told reporters.

After leaving the King ceremony, Huckabee was endorsed by three dozen African-Americans, most of them connected to conservative religious organizations.

Huckabee’s strong opposition to abortion and gay marriage matches the “high moral values” of many black Americans, said William Owens, founder of a group called the Coalition of African American Pastors.

Straight Talk, Senator Clinton? We just can’t get a straight answer.

She has issues about issues.

By Mike Duncan

Senator Hillary Clinton has been running for president pretty much since she was first elected to the Senate. But after all of that time, after all of the trips, press conferences, debates, and ads, what do Michiganders really know about Clinton’s plans?

On issue after issue, she has avoided taking strong positions, has contradicted herself, or has simply refused to answer any questions. Despite the almost constant news coverage, the only thing any of us really know for sure about Senator Clinton’s plans is that she wants to live in the White House again.
That’s not good enough. It’s not enough to be ambitious. It’s not enough to want to be president. The people deserve presidential candidates who want to be elected for a reason. We deserve candidates who take principled stands on important policy questions — yes, even the controversial ones. We deserve a president who has a vision for our future.

Senator Clinton may have many policy plans — but if she does, she hasn’t been eager to talk about them. So we’re left to guess: Did she or did she not have a plan to reform the Alternative Minimum Tax, which was set to hit 23 million Americans with unexpected tax increases this year? First, she said she had a plan. Then she said she’d defer to the chairman of the House tax-writing committee. Then, when he announced a plan that would raise taxes by a record-breaking $1.3 trillion, Clinton refused to give a straight answer whether she supported his plan or what she would do next.

That’s not the first time she has tried to have it both ways when it comes to the economy. How would Senator Clinton help Michiganders who need assistance? Just last week, she said that she wanted to “put money in people’s hands.” That sounds all well and good, except that one of the centerpieces of her campaign is taking money out of people’s hands. Not only did she vote in the Senate for the largest tax increase in history, but she has actually said on the campaign trail that she’s “going to take things away from you on behalf of the common good.” The people of Michigan don’t need the government to take more of their money. They need a strong economy, so they can earn and keep more money for their families.

How about health care? Senator Clinton tried this once before in 1993, with a plan to have the government take over our health care system, with accountants and bureaucrats in Washington making decisions about care instead of patients and doctors. Her new plan isn’t quite identical, but the guiding philosophies behind it are the same: more government, higher taxes, and less choice. Her plan will increase the power bureaucrats exercise over the health-care system, instead of doctors and patients. And though Senator Clinton insists the plan would create “no new bureaucracy,” it manages to spend $110 billion per year just to start. That’s a lot of money, and Senator Clinton admits that she will raise taxes in order to pay for it, but even by her own calculations, that would only cover part of the cost. Where will the rest come from? She won’t say.

On national-security issues, Senator Clinton seems more interested in appealing to left-wing activists than in offering serious answers to issues that directly affect our nation’s safety and security. It wasn’t long ago that she was telling audiences she opposed setting a deadline for troop withdrawal from Iraq. Now, she not only supports a deadline, but she says she always did. In spring of 2006, Clinton said that she would “of course” support funding for the troops. But less than three weeks later, she joined only 13 other senators to vote against funding our troops. Three weeks was all it took to change her mind.

That’s just a start. Senator Clinton won’t give a straight answer on whether or not she has a plan to reform Social Security — or even whether she believes the impending bankruptcy of our national retirement system is a ‘crisis.’ She has gone back and forth on whether she does or doesn’t support giving driver’s licenses to illegal aliens. Clinton tells us she is the most experienced candidate, but refuses to release millions upon millions of pages of documents from her tenure in the White House to back up her claims.

A presidential election is not just about telling the American people what they want to hear. It’s about trust and leadership. If Senator Clinton won’t level with Michiganders — or any voters — about what she would do in the White House, if she doesn’t want to take positions on the hard issues now, how can we trust her to lead our nation?

— Mike Duncan is chairman of the Republican National Committee.

You can read the article here

Santorum: McCain Presidency Very Dangerous

Newsmax staff 

Former Senator and leading conservative Rick Santorum says a John McCain presidency would be “very, very dangerous for Republicans.”

Santorum — who was defeated in 2006 after two terms as a U.S. Senator from Pennsylvania — was sharply critical of fellow Republican McCain in an interview that aired last week on syndicated talk radio host Mark Levin’s show.

Responding to Levin’s observation that McCain is trying to recast himself as more conservative now that he is seeking the GOP presidential nomination, Santorum said:

“It’s amazing to hear what John McCain is trying to convince the voters he is all about. The bottom line is, I served 12 years with him, six years in the Senate as one of the leaders of the Senate, trying to put together the conservative agenda, and almost at every turn, on domestic policy, John McCain was not only against us, but leading the charge on the other side.”

Santorum cited the campaign finance reform bill sponsored by McCain, the McCain-Feingold Act, which limits campaign contributions and has been called by some an “incumbent protection act.”

Santorum called the act “an affront to personal freedom and liberty in this country, and what we’ve seen as a result of this misguided attempt to placate the New York Times and to help his stature within that community … is that special interests have absolutely taken over the political process, and individual candidates, unless you’re a billionaire, and parties have very little voice in the process.

“It’s a shame, but he was obviously out front on that.”

The former Senator also criticized McCain for voting against the Bush Tax cuts — he was one of only two Republicans to do so.

“The reduction in [tax] rates and lowering the rates on capital gains and dividends … did so much to get this economy up and going. [But] we would have had a much bigger tax cut if it were not for John McCain.”

Santorum pointed to McCain’s opposition to conservative positions on drug re-importation, federally funded embryonic stem cell research, immigration, the questioning of terror detainees and other issues, and said he has a “big fear” of a McCain presidency.

He asserted it would create a “huge rift” in the Republican Party, and told Levin’s listeners:

“I think he’s been solid in the war on terror … but on domestic policy, he’s very, very dangerous for Republicans.

“There’s nothing worse than having a Democratic Congress and a Republican president who would act like a Democrat in matters that are important to conservatives.”

Santorum also claimed that McCain was a leader of Senate moderates that often stopped Republicans from pushing strong pro-life legislation.

Santorum said he had not decided which candidate he will vote for in the upcoming GOP primary, but ruled out voting for McCain.

By: Newmax Staff

Santorum expressed the same sentiment back in March, saying he would support whoever wins the Republican nomination for president in 2008, with the exception of John McCain.

As Newsmax reported at the time, Santorum said in an interview: “I don’t agree with him on hardly any issues. I don’t think he has the temperament and leadership ability to move the country in the right direction.”

Huckabee sows seeds to steal Michigan from Romney

(CNN) — Until this week, Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee had not run a single ad in Michigan, and had no paid staffers in the state.

He did not have a campaign office. He had not sent out a single piece of direct mail.

Meanwhile, his rival Mitt Romney — who announced after his second-place New Hampshire showing that Michigan was his top priority — has run nearly $3 million dollars worth of television ads in Michigan.

And John McCain, fresh off his New Hampshire win — and with the backing of two of the state’s largest papers, the Detroit News and the Detroit Free-Press — has been keeping pace in recent polls with the well-funded Romney effort.

But just as in Iowa, a grassroots network of conservative Christian activists and fair tax proponents are, improbably, keeping Huckabee in contention for the top spot in the GOP primary here.

“We laid the groundwork,” says Gary Glenn, one of the leaders of the movement. “The fact that he’s even in a position to threaten Mitt Romney in his native state is a real statement to the depth of support he has here.”

Huckabee’s been riding a months-long wave of good news in Michigan. Just before Labor Day, the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers made him their pick in his party’s presidential primary — a rare nod to a GOP candidate that might not mean much in other Republican contests, but carries some weight in this heavily unionized state.

The Fair Tax movement — which has given Huckabee its enthusiastic backing — announced a major political push in Michigan in 2008, looking to get an anti-tax measure on the ballot this fall.

LaMar Lemmons, the Detroit state representative who helped organize the successful Democratic crossover effort that helped McCain beat Bush here in 2000, recently launched Democrats for Huckabee — the sort of group that can make a real difference in a state where the lack of party registration allows for large-scale crossover voting.

The move may have an exaggerated impact this cycle, since the national party penalized the state party for moving up its primary and most of the major Democratic contenders pulled their names from the ballot.

And this week, Minuteman Project founder Jim Gilchrist is making a swing through the state to tell Republican primary voters upset over illegal immigration to support Huckabee, making appearances in working-class cities from Flint and Saginaw to Kalamazoo.

But as in Iowa, the biggest secret to Huckabee’s Michigan success seems to be his depth of support among evangelical Christians. Typically, somewhere between one-fifth and one-third of Michigan’s Republican primary voters are self-identified evangelicals. A few weeks ago, a Detroit News survey found that number may be as high as 40 percent this year.

So pro-Huckabee organizers say they are focusing their entire effort on turning out evangelical church goers. They plan to call every evangelical pastor in the state over the next few days. Those ministers can’t endorse any candidate from the pulpit — but they can tell their parishioners that “it’s their Christian duty,” to turn out on primary day, said Glenn. “And we know who they’ll be voting for.”

To help drive that message home, thousands of volunteers will be dropping leaflets and waving signs in church parking lots across Michigan this Sunday. Glenn says there will also be several news conferences across the state through the January 15 vote featuring groups of pastors announcing their personal support for Huckabee, an organized wave of callers into Michigan’s Christian radio stations, and phone trees targeting the state’s largest churches from within.

Glenn is a prime example of the sort of well-connected activist that has been essential to Huckabee’s success. The president of Michigan’s chapter of Don Wildmon’s American Family Association, he co-wrote the state’s successful anti-gay marriage amendment, which drew close to 60 percent of the vote in 2004. That effort also updated his already-packed addressbook with a new group of politically-savvy conservative Christian contacts eager to assist a presidential candidate who backed his own state’s version of that measure.

Glenn also represents another key demographic in the Huckabee grassroots army — home schoolers, mostly Christian conservatives, who have overwhelmingly supported the former governor. In Michigan, the group is politically active, and large, with thousands attending the community’s annual state convention.

“We don’t have to persuade them to vote, we just have to get them to turn up,” Glenn said Thursday, pointing to their Iowa counterparts’ role in Huckabee’s victory there. “Why mess with a winning formula?”