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What Mike Huckabee's schedule really reveals

December 31, 2007 |  1:23 am

You can tell a lot by a politician's schedule, which may be why Hillary Clinton's first lady schedule and documents are still locked in the Clinton presidential library. It's probably why Vice President Cheney never got around to releasing his meeting schedule on those long-ago energy consultations.

When you're a candidate, a daily schedule can reveal your whereabouts, goals and political intentions, which can attract protesters, tip off opponents on what you're up to or provide insight on how hard you're working some days. Which is why most presidential campaigns release schedules only a few days in advance, largely to obtain media coverage. And they intentionally leave time gaps, which usually means they're secretly wooing someone for money or support in person or by phone.

Mike Huckabee's schedule this year, for instance, has consistently revealed a reliance on free media appearances, which typically reach a broad audience, allow him to project his genial on-air personality (honed, not accidentally, by his long radio experience) and, did we mention, such free appearances don't cost him any money. 

Sunday, for instance, by sitting in a Des Moines chair for 30 minutes, Huckabee reached an influential national television audience on "Meet the Press," allowing him to charge his main Iowa opponent, Mitt Romney, with "running a very desperate and, frankly, dishonest campaign," which on a slow news day allowed Huckabee to generate gobs of further free news stories across the nation. Then he went to church and, out of sight, taped some last-minute campaign ads.

This likely reflects the former governor's weak fundraising. The fourth quarter doesn't end until midnight tonight, so it'll be a couple of weeks before each campaign's official figures...

...become public through Federal Election Commission filings. Huckabee, like most candidates, has been quite circumspect about recent fundraising. But one indication of financial need is that, again according to his schedule, last week after his heavily photographed morning Iowa pheasant hunt and much-quoted rhetorical shot at Romney, he quietly zipped off to Florida for some fundraisers, not what candidates dream of doing the last week before the Iowa caucus.

A shortage of money could seriously limit any bounce from a strong caucus showing Thursday night by Huckabee, who trails badly in New Hampshire polls.

Interestingly, only Ron Paul, the largely-overlooked Republican candidate with the libertarian ideals, is boasting specifically of his fourth quarter fundraising, which has surpassed $19 million, according to his website. This could make him the most successful GOP fundraiser October-December. In the third quarter Paul raised $5 million, five times Huckabee's total.

Here's Huckabee's announced schedule for today:

6:05 a.m. -- Interview on NBC's "The Today Show."

6:30 a.m. -- Interview on CNN's "American Morning."

6:45 a.m. -- Interview on "Fox and Friends."

7:30 a.m. -- Morning run at Gray's Lake, Des Moines.

Noon  -- Hosts press conference at Downtown Marriott.

12:30 p.m. -- Stops by campaign headquarters to thank volunteers.

2:15 p.m. -- Goes for a haircut at Executive Forum Barber, 519 Locust Ave.

5:30 p.m. -- Attends New Year's Eve party with supporters.

Notice anything about the schedule? Unless Huckabee's paying $400 for his haircuts like someone else we know, it's a very cheapo campaign day. The only real expense is the Marriott room rental.

-- Andrew Malcolm

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