Candidates Head Back to the Trail on the 26th
THE MCCAIN-HUCK ALLIANCE?
Iowa Republican frontrunner Mike Huckabee will head back to the campaign trail the day after Christmas, with a visit to Florida to raise money for his surging presidential bid.
Huckabee will attend a fundraising reception with the powerful Florida house Speaker Marco Rubio. The rest of the candidates scatter across Iowa and New Hampshire (with the exception of Rudy, who is also in Florida.)
So what's made Huck a player during the last 8 months? Fred Barnes of The Weekly Standard suggests it's because Huckabee can "take it easy." "From the beginning of his candidacy, Huckabee has promoted the idea that everyone needs to lighten up," Barnes writes in his Christmas column.
Meanwhile, Huckabee's daughter is proving just how much Iowa means to her dad. While the rest of the family spent Christmas in Arkansas, Sarah Huckabee decided to remain in Des Moines during the holiday. If one of us is going to stay, all of us are going stay," she said, near a banner that read "Merry Christmas and a Huckabee New Year," according to The Chicago Tribune.
But Democratic politico Joe Trippi, who lead Howard Dean's insurgent campaign back in 2004 and is now a John Edwards adviser, opined that Huckabee doesn't have the resources or the organization to win. Trippi is quoted as saying, "(Huckabee's) candidacy has outstripped his supply line."
It's notable that Huckabee's Iowa lead has narrowed in recent weeks, perhaps due to negative advertisements being run against him, and increased scrutiny from a befuddled media. The Associated Press notes some the attacks are sticking, and that no Republican candidate has yet completely locked down Iowa's Christian conservatives.
Mitt Romney is probably the only threat to Huckabee in Iowa. Meanwhile, John McCain is challenging Romney for the lead in New Hampshire. The conventional wisdom goes -- if Romney loses Iowa and New Hampshire, he's done. If he wins them both, he's on his way to the nomination. So maybe that's why there are reports that Huckabee has struck a deal with McCain to stop Romney.
"Down the road, if Huckabee and McCain with the first two contests, then they may well turn on each other because they may be the only two left standing," political scientist Dante Scala told the Boston Globe. "But for right now, I think their goal of supplanting Romney is bigger than any disagreement with each other."