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Huckabee's sports stumble

January 5, 2008 | 12:36 pm

Manchester, N.H. -- Sometimes, we despair over the inability of politicians to learn from their rivals' missteps. So it is today, with Mike Huckabee engaging in shameless pandering as the NFL playoffs heat up.

The former Arkansas governor is a major sports fan, for the St. Louis Cardinals and for the Dallas Cowboys. And, as he worked a crowd earlier today in Londonderry, N.H., he spotted a young man wearing a Cowboy cap. The Times' Joe Mathews was there, and he reports that Huckabee waved to the fellow and chirped: "We're going all the way this year."

One problem -- the presidential contender was surrounded by fans of the unbeaten New England Patriots, the odds-on favorite to win the Super Bowl this year, perhaps in a matchup with the Cowboys. So Huckabee's comment spurred a few hisses. And one man exclaimed, disgustedly, "Don't tell me you're a Cowboy fan?"

Here was a chance for Huckabee to show his grit, to distinguish himself from fellow Republican Rudy Giuliani -- the devoted New York Yankee fan who this fall elicited disbelief by saying he backed the team's archenemy, the Boston Red Sox, in the World Series -- and Democrat Hillary Clinton -- who never can choose between the Yankees and the Chicago Cubs.

But Huckabee whiffed. He indicated that the Patriots are on such a roll that he wouldn't mind if his favored squad lost to them in the ultimate game. "This year, I could live with just getting there," he said.

We don't believe that for a minute.

-- Don Frederick