Sunday, November 04, 2007

Is the Huckabee Surge for Real? (Part 1)

Is the Huckabee surge for real?

This analysis is not bad: "Huckabee's populist economic message could also help give the GOP ticket a boost among once Republican-leaning but now disaffected voters in Ohio. Of course, there would be concern that his socially conservative positions could turn off moderate suburbanites."

One reason that Huckabee's campaign has been so successful so far, I think, is because he is in fact a masterful politician. He can appear on Bill Maher one day and bash Bush's foreign policy and even sound like a progressive when he talks about education or economic policy. Then, not long after, he will appear before a group of Christain evangelicals and speak to the right of everyone else on the stage on issues like school prayer and abortion-- without either of his two constituencies being that cognizant of what he said to the others.

But as he climbs in the polls, and receives greater press and blog scrutiny, his various constituencies are more likely to see what he says when he is not speaking directly to each of them. A case in point: Maher, a fan, and who has had Huckabee on his show more than once, appeared taken aback recently when a guest talked about Huckabee's recent comments suggesting that illegal immigration was related to legalized abortion. The downside to an ascending candidacy is that CNN and Youtube are paying attention.

Meanwhile, one thing is all but certain: This will almost certainly become an issue again for Huckabee-- another example as to how climbing in the polls leads to more intense scrutiny-- by the media, bloggers, and one's fellow candidates. One of the reasons that Fred Thompson did so well-- before he declared his candidacy on Leno- was that as long as he didn't enter the arena editors didn't want to send their reporters out to scrutinize his past until he was indeed a candidate.

Other than say, Sam Brownback, was any other Republican candidate doing opposition research on Huckabee. I think it is safe to assume that someone working for Rudy Guliani has done a Google search, and if they have, and found anything, call John Solomon at the Washington Post with the details.

(The scuttlebutt from the campaign trail is that Solomon is the go-to-guy for candidates with the goods on their competitors. Complaints from reporters at other newspapers are that editors at their own papers are less likely to print negative stuff on candidates without saying where it has come from, while Solomon can remain mum where the goods came from; and through Solomon, an ambitious operative has in the Washington Post one of the most powerful platforms an operative leak an allegation about a rival or amplify one already made.

(I think there is a good discussion that journalists and bloggers should have about the motives of their leakers should be more transparent to their readers. As far as I know, only Josh Marshall has even addressed this issue, while taking a shot at deconstructing Solomon.)

In any case, after discursing, this story has in recent days been read by more people than when it was originally posted and published in Nov. 2002.

Meanwhile, Matt Yglesias weighs in about this and other things.

And Susan Milligan in the Boston Globe gave many readers in neighboring New Hampshire their first exposure to the Dumond issue in this story.

First update: Oops. I forgot that I written a post-- at this very blog!-- (that was a self-deprecating reference to the fact that I have all of about eleven readers currently to this blog) about Huckabee and Dumond when the former governor was interviewed on Meet the Press and Tim Russert actually asked him some questions from my Arkansas Times story. (I pledge to my eleven readers that I will probably not link again to my own blog soon. That I did not remember my own blog posting probably indicates that anyone should consider it memorable-- except for the fact that former Governor Huckabee may have given misleading answers to some of Russert's questions.)

Second update: I should have remembered this as well. John Amato has the video of that appearance by Huckabee on Meet the Press. Personal thanks to Tim Russrt for asking the right and tough questions as well as to John for posting the video and advancing the story as well.

Third update: Columnist Scott Leigh of the Boston Globe believes that the Huckabee surge is for real: "A recent Rausmassen survey has [Huckabee] tied for second with Fred Thompson in Iow, with neither far behind."

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