Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Huck's Playing With House Money With Leno Appearance


As Mike Huckabee flies to Burbank to tape the "Tonight Show" with Jay Leno you've got wonder is the former Arkansas governor counting his chickens before they're hatched in tomorrow's Iowa Caucus?

This is definitely a national play for the thus far successful, but still cash-strapped campaign to parlay a likely win in tomorrow's caucus to next week's New Hampshire primary and beyond. It might backfire and give Mitt Romney stronger than expected second-place finish.

It can't look good for the self-described underdog to be gallivanting to Hollywood while his opponents are still pressing the flesh in the frigid Iowa winter.

Instead of finishing off their dramatic upset in Iowa, the Huckabee campaign is inexplicably using the credit earned there for the next race. The question is whether Iowa Republicans who were not solidly in Huckabee's column and I believe his popularity in the state is a bit soft and unable to transfer to the rest of the country, will not shift to another candidate.

I believe Romney will gain some of those votes and finish three to four points off the pace. The big winner, though, may be Sen. John McCain.

The religion question is being overhyped on the conservative side of the ballot. There still isn't a true evangelical in the race, despite what Huckabee tells you and while some may be leery of Romney's Mormonism, they really see him as secular, at best. Those religious voters may scrap their beliefs and go with Sen. McCain, the champion of foreign policy and backer of the surge in Iraq.

Amazingly, a strong third-place finish in Iowa without the benefit of any organization and opinions heretical to most ethanol-loving Iowans, would be a major story tomorrow. It would affirm the belief that McCain sticks to his beliefs and possesses the intuition of policies two years down the road.

When it comes to the Iraq War, he's the anti-Obama. He's the only candidate who can say that he didn't change gears a year ago when his support for the war nearly destroyed his campaign. Now, the war ain't so bad and neither is McCain's bid for the Republican nomination.

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