Thursday, August 16, 2007

Huckabee's Moment?

Mike Huckabee's second place finish in the Iowa straw poll has given him a boost in both the polls and the media. But can Huckabee build on this momentum to move himself into the GOP's top tier? National Review's Jim Geraghty thinks there is a chance he could:

Suppose you’re an undecided Republican voter, with mixed feelings about the big-name Republican presidential candidates. You respect John McCain, but he doesn’t look like a viable option — which is just as well since he bugged you with his crusade for speech-limiting campaign finance reform, and lost you with the immigration deal with Ted Kennedy.

Mitt Romney’s wowed you in the debates, but you can’t forget that while you agree with all his positions, he had strikingly different ones not too long ago. And you would prefer a nominee who has won more than just one political race in his life.

You love Rudy Giuliani’s crime-fighting record and 9/11 leadership, but the thought of a non-pro-life Republican nominee gives you pause, and the messy home life troubles you a bit.

You were very excited about Fred Thompson, and nearly fainted with anticipation when you saw his smackdown of Michael Moore. But lately you feel like you’re playing a character in Waiting for Godot, and you’re wondering if he got lost somewhere on the way to the announcement.

Those still shopping for a candidate could do a lot worse than former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, who with the second-place finish in Ames is not merely now a “top tier” candidate, as Newt Gingrich recently declared, but arguably belongs in the middle of that first tier.

Huckabee has several things going for him. He's a successful former governor (Arkansas). He's striking the right tone in his responses to quetions on foreign policy. He has solid conservative issues that will give him appeal beyond the Republican base. He's also got a great sense of humor that has served him well in the debates.

His biggest negative has been that up until now he's been in the second tier among GOP candidates. But with the increased media attention after his strong showing in Iowa more voters may begin paying attention to him. That could dramatically change the face of a race that was already starting to narrow down to two or three candidates.

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