Sunday, December 30, 2007

Romney Eyes Huckabee's Lead

What if Iowa's a TIE?

Two new polls out four days before the Iowa caucuses shows Mitt Romney clawing back into a virtual dead heat with former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee.

An MSNBC-McClatchy poll gives Romney the lead. The Reuters-Zogby poll has it dead even. Pick the one you like:

Mitt Romney 27%
Mike Huckabee 23%

(+/- 5 points)

Mike Huckabee 29%
Mitt Romney 28%

(+/- 3 points)

Huckabee looked articulate and didn't seem flustered on Meet The Press Sunday morning. He said it wasn't his place as a candidate to say if Pakistan should carry forth with its scheduled elections. With a minor pause, Huckabee even got the "gotcha" question right -- correctly calling Pakistan a "primarily Sunni" country. He also defended his comment about controlling the borders in the wake of Benazir Bhutto's assassination. "We're talking about the potential of a person who can come across this border with a dirty bomb and a suitcase," Huckabee said.

Huckabee also defended himself against recent television advertisements run by Romney and hit back hard. He said he wasn't a latecomer to support for the surge, like Romney. "Mitt Romney is running a very desperate and frankly a dishonest campaign," he said.

"When Mitt Romney comes on your show and says that he had the N.R.A. endorsement when he didn't, when he comes on and says he's pro-life and yet he signed a bill that gives a $50 dollar co-pay for an elective abortion in his state's healthcare plan, when he claims he's really for the second amendment, but on this show, he talked about how he supported limitations and restrictions on lawful abiding citizens, having gun ownership rights. Those are not the marks of a person who's pro-life and pro-second amendment," Huckabee said.

"If you aren't being honest obtaining the job, can we trust you to be honest if you get the job," Huckabee added.

So did Huckabee really peak too early? Is the air slowly coming out of the balloon? Conservative political analyst Monica Crowley said on The McLaughlin Group this weekend that Huckabee would be just a blip in our minds by February, suggesting his rise would soon come to an end without much consequence. NBC Political Director Chuck Todd wasn't convinced Huckabee would be able to hold on in Iowa, noting that the Hawkeye State usually comes down to organization --- and with low enthusiasm on the G.O.P. side, that could hinder Huckabee's chances.

Then there's Marc Ambinder of The Atlantic, who reports from Indianola, Iowa about why some Iowans are signing on with the Baptist Minister from Hope. "He's got, he's got heart. He's a good man," Ambinder quotes one Iowan telling him. "A down to earth person who we're going to be able to trust."

Will a lack of organization, foreign policy woes and questions about electability ultimately sink Huckabee? Or will his good-guy, straight-talking, populist message win over the heartland? And what if Huckabee and Romney finish close -- like within a thousand votes of each other, or less than a percentage point separating the two -- is there really a true winner?

4 DAYS to go . . .

1 comment:

Matt said...

On Fox News Sunday, Juan Williams calls Huckabee to win Iowa, while Bill Kristol and Mara Liasson both called Romney. I don't recall who they predicted on the Democrat side, except that no one predicted Edwards.