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Snake hunting aside, the Huckabee surge continues

All praise is due the dynamic duo who pen the Washington Post's Reliable Source column, Amy Argetsinger and Roxanne Roberts. When an obvious follow-up was called for, they rose to the occasion.

Like many, we think, the pair was struck by a line that leapt out of a Post story Sunday on the dramatic hike in support for Republican Mike Huckabee in Iowa. The surge has been so surprising, the piece noted, that during the extended Thanksgiving weekend, his Iowa state director was "in Costa Rica hunting snakes."

The aide, Eric Woolson, was back on the job at the start of this week and, via the Reliable Source, he expounded on his unusual avocation here. He noted that as a political operative, some folks might consider his recent trip "a working vacation." But he charitably added: "I wouldn't be quite so kind."

The good tidings continue for Huckabee, meanwhile.

Today, he was endorsed by Jerry Falwell Jr., son of the well-known televangelist who passed away earlier this year. Also, for the first time, a poll shows Huckabee atop the GOP presidential field in Iowa (though his lead over Mitt Romney -- whose camp once though it owned the state -- in the new survey by Rasmussen Reports, is within its margin of error). For a look at the results from several recent Iowa polls, go here.

Here's another shocker...

A new poll in Florida by Insider Advantage/Majority Opinion shows Huckabee in second place, behind Rudy Giuliani (for whom winning the Sunshine State is a virtual must).

By contrast, a new CNN/Opinion Research Corp. survey in Florida puts Huckabee in fifth place (though in a virtual tie with John McCain and Fred Thompson).

Despite the conflicting results in those last two polls, there is little doubt that, as MSNBC's First Read political note put it today, "besides Hillary Clinton going on the offensive against Barack Obama, Huckabee’s rise in the polls could very well be the biggest political story in the last couple of weeks."

His billowing backing in Iowa has come even though, unlike most of this year's White House contenders, he hasn't been camped out in the state. The Politico has the details on that here. And the New York Times today examines the degree to which reservations among Iowa evangelicals about Romney's Mormonism has fueled the Huckabee boom. Intriguingly, the piece notes that the former Arkansas governor "waffled in recent interviews about whether he considers Mormons to be Christians."

All of this makes tonight's CNN/Tube debate among the Republican contenders particularly well timed. The Times' story almost assuredly will spur an effort to pin down Huckabee on the Mormon issue. As detailed in a Robert Novak column earlier this week, his record can be expected to come under intense attack. And presumably, attention will be focused on his so far little-scrutinized call for scrapping the income tax system and replacing it with a national sales tax.

-- Don Frederick 

Comments () | Archives (11)

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This blog response intrigued me:

"This is not what Jesus meant when he told his disciples to let their light shine. Our theology should rightly shape our politics but using our faith to promote our political ambitions is bad theology. Unfortunately bad theology is rampant in evangelical Republicans.

Posted by The Rev Dr John H Pavelko November 28, 07 04:27 PM

I think that was Mike Huckabee's trump card in Iowa. To be even more direct this is my take on what is happening in Iowa. From what I've been reading across the internet...Most of the Evangelical/Christian Right are NOT voting for Huckabee and they are NOT voting against Romney; what they are is anti-Mormon and Romney being Mormon is at the right place in the wrong time. The Evangelical/Christian movement is voting against the Mormons. Romney has the skills the intelligence, the vision, the wisdom and experience to be a great President. As a United States President, Romney would do much good for this nation, but the Christian Right, out of fear and a long and nurtured tradition, cannot bring themselves to see the strengths of the man. Romney has become pro-life, that would be herald if he were not a Mormon. Reagan was praised for his change of heart and mind in becoming pro-life.

Even the Democrats are fighting Romney because they see the great potential he has for bringing about productive and healthy change. He is being copied on many issues because they are sound. There is partisan politics at play here. If the Democrats can’t do it, then they don’t want the Republicans to do it either… and they don’t care what success someone has had. Romney has through hard work and optimism made a very successful life for himself and has helped those he has served both in private and political sector. I believe he would do all within his influence and means to bring about security and prosperity for all Americans. Prosperity for all Americans is something that other politicians say they want to bring, but have not been as successful as Romney in bringing it about. Romney is the candidate that Democrats do not want to go up against.

Romney is just one of those unique and outstanding leaders that don’t come along very often. He is like a Halley's Comet that you might only get to see once in your life time. I hope this nation doesn't miss out of this opportunity to have such a prepared leader.

Sorry. I live in Iowa, and I'm voting FOR Huckabee, not against anyone.

I've heard a lot of people say that this year we can vote without holding our nose.

I'm certainly voting FOR Mike Huckabee; I'm not even worried about Mr. Romney, he is his own worst enemy. Maybe he will shift his ideological positions once again and seek state office elsewhere. He is the Republican John Kerry. No thanks.

Wendy, I think your post is amazingly insulting. We Evangelical Christians are excited about Huckabee because he has wowed us with his specific policy proposals and because we feel there's finally someone out there who represents us. Huckabee has the same opinions we have, and the same underlying philosphy that has brought him to embrace those positions.

I shouldn't be surprised (but I am) that so many people still rely on the old "Ignorant Contrarian Right Wing Reactionary" stereotype to explain the behavior of Evangelicals.

I find it ironic that Obama praised Huckabee a few months back as one of the decent Republican candidates. Now both he and Obama are doing well in Iowa.

God moves in mysterious ways, His wonders to perform......

I've scrutinized the top two dozen presidential candidates (both Dem and Rep) on their issues and positions. Duncan Hunter was the last one I through out.

Like Reagan, the press WILLl try desperately to tear Huckabee apart because they fear the truth. I believe that Huckabee matches Reagan on the issues and just might surpass Reagan himself in pure likability.

He holds to the facts and the truth. He tells it like it is - with quips and humor. He's quick on his feet (something else the liberals fear). He speaks TO the people - not the press. As a Pastor, he's ACTUALLY HELPED individuals with problems. And as Governor, he's made a few mistakes to prove he's human.

He's not easily swayed. Unlike Bush, world leaders will have great difficulty arguing against someone with so much love, understanding, and humility. He's proved this working with a Democratic Legislature in AK. Like Carter, R.R., and B. Clinton, he is NOT a Washington insider. He also holds more executive experience than any of the others running - on BOTH sides.

I've never had the pleasure of personally meeting the man and probably never will, but he has my my financial support and my vote.

I've listened to his speeches and NO one even comes close.

A devout social conservative on issues such as abortion, school prayer, homosexuality and evolution, Huckabee's a populist on economics, a fad-follower on the environment and an all-around do-gooder who believes that the biblical obligation to do "good works" extends to using government – and your tax dollars – to bring us closer to the Kingdom of Heaven on Earth.

Not for me. I love the idea of getting rid of the income tax and realizing economic freedom, but I think social freedom is important as well. I have to vote for Ron Paul.

Mike Huckabee is surging in every poll out there. Mike is at the top of his game. He's cool, He's calm and He Rocks!!! This guy is becoming a national celebrity, his down to earth likeable attidude makes everybody feel good and positive.

Plus he is "Chuck Norris Approved"!!!

I would'nt be surprised if Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger came out an endorsed Mike Huckabee too. He will have two Hollywood tough guys endorse him. Mike floats like a butterfly while the tough guys will sting like a bee. Mike Huckabee is like Rocky, he started from no where, was poor, had a guitar and he's climbing to the top of the stairs like Rocky did. You can hear it in the air, here comes the next underdog making it to the top.

Mike is on a roll and he's becoming an American icon. Maybe even Bono will endorse him too! Watch the tidal wave of celebrities start backing up Mike Huckabee now!

I'm voting FOR Mike Huckabee - not AGAINST Romney. NOT against Hillary. Not AGAINST any of them.

Mike Huckabee's the most Exciting candidate to come along in decades. He's got the "whole" package!

AND......he just raised another $2 million PLUS this month! FROM THE PEOPLE! Not the moneyed-right. He uses it wisely, too! But you've heard that, right? :)

He's the man! So...... anyone wants to know more?

The best part about Huckabee is his honesty, integrity and true conservative roots. He lays out his beliefs and stands on the issues and refuses to waver when speaking to different groups. He is the only true conservative in the field, both socially and fiscally, and is a person who can truly galvanize the Republican base. He is someone we conservatives have been missing for quite some time now.

He pardoned Keith Richards and is proud of it. He plays bass in Capital Offense. He shoots lefty like me .And I'm now the first person in my hometown with a "I Like Mike" bumpersticker.


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About the Columnist
A veteran foreign and national correspondent, Andrew Malcolm has served on the L.A. Times Editorial Board and was a Pulitzer finalist in 2004. He is the author of 10 nonfiction books and father of four. Read more.
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