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Huck, Chuck and a heckler

January 6, 2008 | 11:18 am

Manchester, N.H. -- It was bound to happen. And today, as Mike Huckabee campaigned in Windham, N.H., it did -- the Republican presidential candidate's celebrity helper, Chuck Norris, went on a rant.

The Times' Joe Mathews was there, and he reports that Norris, after denouncing wealthy people -- especially Saudi sheiks -- for buying jets, yachts and "millions of dollars of merchandise" without paying taxes, declared he didn't like the way campaigns fund themselves.

"I’m upset about the whole structure," he said. "if a candidate is rich ... he can give all the money he’s got to campaign for himself." He added that a candidate "should be able to only give $2,300 of his own money [the limit on individual contributions from others to a candidate during the primary season], not $20 million of his own money."

He did not specifically mention Republican Mitt Romney, who has poured millions of dollars from his personal accounts into his quest for the GOP presidential nod. But, especially in light of the antipathy between the Huckabee and Romney camps in the walkup to the Iowa caucuses, it's a safe bet that that's whom he had in mind.

Norris, who's starting to act like a candidate himself these days, offered his own reform plan: public finance. "I would give the candidates $30 million each" and no more, so the public could see what kind of financial stewards they are, he said.

He also expressed frustration that despite the surprising political success Huckabee is enjoying, donations are not flowing his way. "Corporate America isn’t giving him any money; Wall Street hates him ... but that’s all right," he told his listeners. "You’re the ones who make the decision, not Wall Street.”

Huckabee's wife, Gena, eventually had to walk up and tell him to wrap it up. "She's the brains of the family," Norris said. "I'm a fighter and an actor. Why do I need brains?"

No word on whether Huckabee embraces Norris' call for campaign finance reform. But having the actor by his side definitely comes in handy.

Shortly after Huckabee took the microphone to address the crowd of about 600, a heckler began shouting that the candidate was "president of the Council on Foreign Relations."

"Don't make me send Chuck back there," Huckabee told the heckler, who was escorted out by police.

-- Don Frederick

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